EPISODES
  • Ep 122 - November 18th Webinar Q&A

    On November 18th, I hosted a webinar called "How Professional Screenwriters Create Great Characters", where I talked about how to come up with interesting and unique characters, as well as how tapping into your everyday life interactions with people can help with this. This episode addresses questions you asked in our Q&A session that we didn't have time to answer. There's lots of great info here, make sure you watch.

    Show Notes

    A Paper Orchestra on Website: - https://michaeljamin.com/book

    A Paper Orchestra on Audible: - https://www.audible.com/ep/creator?source_code=PDTGBPD060314004R&irclickid=wsY0cWRTYxyPWQ32v63t0WpwUkHzByXJyROHz00&irgwc=1

    A Paper Orchestra on Amazon: - https://www.amazon.com/Audible-A-Paper-Orchestra/dp/B0CS5129X1/ref=sr_1_4?crid=19R6SSAJRS6TU&keywords=a+paper+orchestra&qid=1707342963&sprefix=a+paper+orchestra%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-4

    A Paper Orchestra on Goodreads: - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203928260-a-paper-orchestra

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

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

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

    Join My Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin:

    And why are we rooting for him? We're rooting for this meek man who's going to die soon to make some money for his family, but also to feel like he's alive for the first time in his life because he's just lived this very meek existence. And so that's why we're rooting for him. That's why we like him. And when he makes mistakes, he may go off track, but we hope he comes back. We're still rooting for him. You are listening to What The Hell Is Michael Jamin talking about conversations in writing, art, and creativity. Today's episode is brought to you by my debut collection of True Stories, a paper orchestra available in print, ebook and audiobook to purchase and to support me on this podcast, please visit michael jamin.com/book and now on with the show. Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin and you're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Well, today we're doing another q and a from II's free writing webinars, and there's a lot of questions that people had. We couldn't answer 'em all on the end. We ran out of time, and so we're going to address 'em here. But this episode, Phil, I'm here with Phil Hudson.

    Phil Hudson:

    What up, Phil?

    Michael Jamin:

    Today's episode is brought to you by a paper orchestra, which is my collection of personal essays. It's David Saris meets Neil Simon on sale on my website, michael jamin.com, or you can find it anywhere. Books are sold, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, apple Books, all those places. Go get it. Go check it out. It's a fun read. Yeah. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    Worth checking out all the versions though too. I was just listening to the audio book and we talked about this in your episode about the book itself, but the music cues and the intros, very well done. Very well produced. You're also telling me about, thank you, Phil, how hellacious of a process it was to do it

    Michael Jamin:

    To

    Phil Hudson:

    The quality you like.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Because you only get to put it out once, but yeah. But thank you. So Phil got the audio book, but it's available ebook and print as well, however you consume your written materials. Love it. Alright, Phil, we got some questions. Enough about me. Let's ask me some questions.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, let's talk to you some more about you. This is from the November 18th webinar. These are like you said, q and A stuff, and the topic of this webinar was how professional screenwriters create great characters. This was, I think, a first run on this topic. You hadn't done this topic before.

    Michael Jamin:

    It could be. Yeah, this was a good one. Yeah, this turned out to be a good one I thought.

    Phil Hudson:

    I think so too. We can tell, there's some metrics we can tell in terms of how long people stay, questions that are asked, how long it goes. And I was going to say too, we didn't get to these questions because typically when we first started doing this almost a year ago, February will be a year doing these. It was like 30 minutes of lesson and then it was a bunch of q and a and that has transitioned into about 45 minutes of lesson and then a little bit of q and a where we can get it. And then we even have VIPQ and A now where you can just pay a small fee to join for an hour after and you just talk to people on Zoom and they get to go live and ask you questions and some really, really good questions being asked in that. So if you're interested in attending these webinars, go to michael jamin.com/webinar where you can sign up for that. But then you can also sign up on that page to get into the VIP. If you want to ask Michael directly a question that you have if you

    Michael Jamin:

    Can't get to it. So to be clear, the webinars are always free, and if you want to spend extra time with me, that costs you something. But I should also say right now it seems like we have four that we're going to have a rotation, but we may keep adding different topics, but right now we have four good ones, so if you missed it, just sign up and maybe we'll do it again. Correct

    Phil Hudson:

    Me if I'm wrong, but I think some of the topics you've come up with have come from the q and a that you do on these topics. How do I overcome? Writer's block are like, I'm really struggling with a character or development. So they kind of incept the idea of like, okay, here's a topic we should go down. So lots of great value there. Alright, well again, just for housekeeping, we do split these up into topics. So we have kind of general topics. We have craft breaking in questions related to your course or the webinar topic and then miscellaneous. So we're going to start with K Craft. I think again, people want to know how to do the job, which I think is helpful.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes.

    Phil Hudson:

    So Chad, Chad Siime or cme, I don't know how to pronounce that. Sorry, Chad,

    Michael Jamin:

    He doesn't, doesn't know either.

    Phil Hudson:

    He probably's probably making it up. Was it like Ari, one of the writers in Taco, they pronounced their name. It was changed at one point.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, he says his own name wrong. Poor guy.

    Phil Hudson:

    I know someone who was a Heinrich and then when World War II happened, they changed it to Heinrich, Henrik Henrich because they didn't want to be associated.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    There you go. Chad asked, do you have examples of writers who have successfully experimented with story structure? What principles did they stick to and where did they deviate?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't really know. I mean, I don't really know if I have a good answer to that. Every time I watch something I go, oh, it falls into the good. I guess there's some really high level writing. Christopher Nolan. Okay. So I would say many of his movies do not fit what I would teach, like Memento, but Forget or Inception. I don't know how many times I've watched it and I still don't understand it. So it's a great movie though.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. But I would say that I can see that clearly the writing structure in those.

    Michael Jamin:

    You can. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    Oh yeah, you're definitely an inception too. It's like how do we get on this journey and how are we making decisions and where this stakes, all that stuff. I think it's all,

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of it playing at the timeline, memento when he's playing with it. I don't even know what year it's supposed to

    Phil Hudson:

    Be. You're right. But I wonder if that's, it's all there and it's just been split to change and mess with your head a bit, but it's all there, which is why it resonates with people.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I guess my advice is like, listen, if you want to operate at the high level, that's great, but let's just get to the professional level first before you become the master

    Phil Hudson:

    Level. And Christopher Nolan's a great example of that because he had made a feature before he did Memento, so he had a full feature. He was making short films all the time in film school before he even started experimenting with timelines and things like that. Yeah, okay. Listen to me just arguing. Michael jamin on his own podcast.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do I know? You might be

    Phil Hudson:

    Right, maybe my head did get big. Kevin and Steve. Alright, Marianne wants to know, you have such a great understanding of human nature. Was there something you've always been good at or did you develop it as a writer?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I didn't. I have a very low emotional iq. My parents are great people, well, great parents, but terrible, low emotional IQs themselves just because that's the household they grew up in. And so it's not a knock on them, it's just like this is the product of your parents. This is how they communicate. And so a lot of this I learned I gained from my wife just from being with her. And then the rest of it, of course, I learned as I became, I became a writer because that's your job as a writer is to really understand people and to get into their shoes. And one of the, it's so funny, I've spoken about this in the past, but my first writing teacher was a guy who really wanted everyone to be in psychoanalysis. That's what he called it because he was so old. They don't even call it like that anymore.

    It's psychotherapy. But he thought every writer has to be in psychoanalysis because if you don't understand yourself, how could you possibly understand someone else and you or a character? And I think he's absolutely right. I didn't want to believe he was right, but he is right. If you don't understand yourself, and most people do not, and we know this because they go through life unconscious of the people of the damage they're leaving, of the people they're hurting because they're just not even aware of it. And you see it all the time. You could see it on social media, people saying really mean things. It's like you might even be a good person, but why would you put that in print? What is wrong with you that you would say that? What part of yourself is so wounded that you think you need to say this in writing? And so I appreciate the compliment, but everyone else, I'm a work in progress and I think writing definitely has helped me.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, that's great. Albert Klein wants to know, and this is again contextual here. These are people who are live chatting questions throughout this episode or this webinar. But I said relatability is key in full caps. I think where you're talking about with the characters. Do these characters need to be relatable? Do I need to understand who they're

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, and it's the same thing with Tony Soprano. How do we relate to a mobster? I don't, and he's probably a sociopath as well, but what we can relate is the fact that we know what it's like to be a boss. Maybe you know what it's like to be a boss, to have people undermining you, your underlings. And he certainly had those problems. We know what it's like to be a father and to have children that are rebellious or whatever. That's the part we relate to with, so we don't relate to the part where he's going to wax somebody because he's late with the whatever. But we do relate to this other issues, which is

    Phil Hudson:

    Anxiety, the stress and family life. His psychotic mother.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's what the show is about. It's not about

    Phil Hudson:

    Crazy. He deals with his in-laws too. Joey Pants, I think is his brother-in-Law or something, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't remember what

    Phil Hudson:

    He was. Yeah. Anyway, it's all relatable because it is just a heightened version of what go through. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    His job is a little more interesting than our job, but it's all, that's not what it's about. It's not about the mafia, it's about the emotions that we all relate to.

    Phil Hudson:

    Great answer. Reik vid. So do you find the anti-hero more interesting than a traditional hero?

    Michael Jamin:

    Anti-hero is not even a term I use. I don't know. I think everyone, your hero has to be likable. I don't know. I can't even say I've lost interest. If your character is so unlikable, I don't really care what happens to him or her. I am out. So this notion of anti-hero, I don't even think of your writing that way. You have a hero. I think anti-heroes is one of these terms that, I dunno, expert writers will tell you it's an anti-hero. What?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, people say that. People have said that the whole time since I've said I've wanted to study screenwriting or be a writer publicly said, oh, I'll describe what I like. Oh, you like an anti-hero? Batman's an anti-hero. And I was like, why? He's not goody hoo Superman. You've described him. He is a deeply wounded person who is using every resource he has, all of his willpower to stop other people from suffering.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how is he, I mean, we were on his side. He's complicated, but we're on his side. We're rooting for him. If we're not, we got a problem.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright. What about Walter White

    Michael Jamin:

    Breaking back? Yeah. What about Walter White? So that's a great, is he an anti-hero? I don't know. Who cares? To me, he's a guy who's dying in the pilot episode. He's dying, he's a teacher, so he doesn't have any money. What is he going to leave his family when he's gone? He's got to come up with money fast. And the only way he knows how to do that fast is by capitalizing on his skillset, which is he's a chemistry teacher so he can make meth in a lab. Does that make him an anti-hero? To me, he's just a hero.

    Phil Hudson:

    He's a person. And then you find out that he gave up tremendous wealth because that was like, he had that partnership at that company where he had the ability to adjust multimillions of dollars and he's a public school chemistry teacher. So it's those layers of decisions and regret. It's exploring the human condition. Definitely just

    Michael Jamin:

    And why are we rooting for him? We're rooting for this meek man who's going to die soon to make some money for his family, but also to feel like he's alive for the first time in his life because he's just this very meek existence. And so that's why we're rooting for him. That's why we like him. And when he makes mistakes, he may go off track, but we hope he comes back. We're still rooting for him.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Great. Chad, back again. Chad, how deep should someone go in developing a film or television character knowing that the director actor in the show's evolution will shape their personality?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, you should go deep enough to get their interest so that they want to buy your work or work with you. But just know that's the thing about film. The minute you sign up for a film or you sell your film, the director's in charge, they're the boss. It's their movie. They might fire you. They're going to probably hire five other writers to rewrite the hell out of you. You may not even get screen credit because that'll be arbitrated by the Writer's Guild. Which writer did the most work on it? And so you should do as much possible as work possible to entice people to get on board your project. But once they get on board, you're out. Except in tv, it's a little different tv. The writer is the boss, not the director.

    Phil Hudson:

    And the actor needs to play that role. Right? You've got to entice them with your writing. And then good for you, man, congratulations. You can cry about it and wipe your tears with a hundred dollars bills,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? Or write something. Write a book. If you're so protective, then do it your way. Write a book

    Phil Hudson:

    Like me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Listen, like me, a paper orchestra available @michaeljamin.com or Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or Apple Books or anywhere books are found. And now back to our show film. Excellent Commercial Break.

    Phil Hudson:

    KU Ghana. I'm so sorry. I did not get that right. How would you go about creating a character who is far removed from your life, for example, based on a myth or legend? And it seems like there's a two-parter here, so maybe address

    Michael Jamin:

    That one. How would I go about, well, what's the second part maybe? Or is it so unrelated

    Phil Hudson:

    And advice for generating side characters, how to get the balance right between, so,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, that part. I could teach in the course, the side characters, but how do I go about creating characters that are, what was the first that were mythical or something?

    Phil Hudson:

    If you have characters are so far removed from who you are, and I'm assuming this is the job or the thing they do not necessarily the difference in who they are saying myth or legendary heroes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, I would say try to do some research if you're not modeling it after someone, if a psychopath get to know them and try to figure out steal from them or a family member or someone. And if you don't, then it's on you to do a lot of research. Then you're going to have to get books on people who you want to be authentic. You don't want to, that's part of your job is the research part.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    I prefer to steal, I prefer to steal from people. I know.

    Phil Hudson:

    There you go. That's why all of his crazy characters are named Phil Hudson. I couldn't figure it out. But this ties back to David s goer's comment about the Man of Steel movie that he wrote and he asked, what's the theme? He's like, it's about fathers and it's like Superman has an Earth father, but he has this other father and it's literally dealing with your father relationships. And then the second one is about mothers, and it's Batman and Superman dealing with this. Both of their mothers are Martha and they're struggling. And so there's this balance even of, we all know what it's like. You can even jump to Iron Man and Civil War when they're fighting and he's fighting. He finds out this other character killed his mom and Captain America is trying to stop him. And he goes, he killed my mom. And he's like, you can't be mad at Iron Man for wanting to fight this guy who's been his ally because he killed his mom. Even if the guy doesn't remember doing it, he kills your mom. So that's all super heightened, super superhero things. But what I'm trying to get to is there's humanity in every character and your life experience mining your life for stories like Michael teaches. That's how you do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. Kim wants to know what about inner conflict, like being raised strictly religiously and discovering the joys of secular humanism and the transition from the medieval mindset to Renaissance?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, you're probably a better person to answer than me.

    Phil Hudson:

    So this feels very specific to a type of story that they're writing.

    But when we talk about internal conflict, this is something I struggle with because as someone who's religious and been raised religious, I'm not anti-religious. I'm still very active in my faith and there are a lot of people who are very interested in what it means to be a Mormon, to be a latter day saint. I've struggled with how to approach that type of story. You've been telling me to write that for a long time, and I've struggled because I don't want to be preachy and I don't want to tear down my faith. And then I did find a balance and that balance is, let me just take a step back and look at all of the characters that I grew up with in this secular religion and what is so intriguing about the mommy blogger, the multilevel marketer, the jock has been who's now a real estate or the guy who went on to sell summer sales and has so much money but zero personality and then puts some interesting character struggling with their faith in the middle of that so you can explore

    Michael Jamin:

    Because these are all characters that you grew up with in your faith,

    Phil Hudson:

    The

    Michael Jamin:

    Multilevel, all of these people. Do you think Mormonism has something? Do you think there's a trait in Mormonism that applies to m multilevel marketing or something?

    Phil Hudson:

    I do, yeah. There's no better networked religion I think than the LDS faith. You, everything's divided geographically. You have 10 congregations that are geographically divided in what we call a stake. Then you have wards, which is literally a term to define a geographical area. So your neighbors all go to church with you, you do this, you know everybody, you know their name, you're encouraged to know their families and look after them and take care of them. And this is like pioneer heritage. This is a religion that was chased out of city after city, A Mormon extermination order made it legal to kill us in Missouri. And it wasn't appealed until the 1960s or seventies. They circle the wagons mentality of pilgrims or pioneers and they still treat it that way. And so present yourself nicely taken to an extreme is have perfect teeth. Go to the gym for three hours a day, wear nice clothes, live above your means, keep up with the Joneses. Really. It's like I totally see that I didn't grow up in that type of family

    Michael Jamin:

    In that room. That's interesting to me. See, but you feel like if you were to write

    Phil Hudson:

    That you'd be caring? No, now I'm saying I know how to do that and I do know how to explore it because I'm not making fun of the religion necessarily or my theology. I am doing something that has always been interesting. It's the hypocrisy,

    Michael Jamin:

    The hypocrisy,

    Phil Hudson:

    The hypocrisy of it. And there's a lot of that. It's befriend everybody, but don't play with those kids. They don't go to church. Oh, I see. Interesting. If Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves, then why are we not playing with the kid who's just moved here from South Dakota? So there's all those things. So what I would say advice is you need to look at what is interesting and what's your personal feelings about those things. And I left Utah because I didn't like necessarily the culture. It wasn't about the religion that was prominent there. It was the culture of the people, and that is something I have a lot of opinion about. So why am I not writing about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, right. Good,

    Phil Hudson:

    Good. You'll be getting a draft within the next month or so from

    Michael Jamin:

    Michael. Good. Send it along. You are listening to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Today's episode is brought to you by my new book, A paper Orchestra, A collection of True Stories. John Mayer says, it's fantastic. It's multi timal. It runs all levels of the pyramid at the same time. His knockout punches are stinging, sincerity, and Kirker view says those who appreciate the power of simple stories to tell us about human nature or who are bewitched by a storyteller who has mastered his craft will find a delightful collection of vignettes, a lovely anthology that strikes a perfect balance between humor and poignancy. So my podcast is not advertiser supported. I'm not running ads here. So if you'd like to support me or the podcast, come check out my book, go get an ebook or a paperback or if you really want to treat yourself, check out the audio book. Go to michael jamin.com/book and now back to our show.

    Phil Hudson:

    John wants to know, so if you choose the worst person to go on a journey, does that mean you came up with a scenario or premise or actual journey first? This goes back to in this episode or this webinar, you said it's not about finding the perfect character, it's finding the Yeah. And then I want to let people watch that webinar so they can get this thing here.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. The question basically is which comes first character or the story? And to me it's the story. If most people say, oh, well I'm writing a movie about a guy, whatever comes back from the war with post-traumatic stress syndrome and now have to integrate into the real world, okay, that's the story. So now you have to go, who's the character? What's the best character for that story? Was he a seal, a navy seal or was he one of these accountant pencil pushers? He might've been a grill cook or something and I didn't sign up for this, and now he's coming back to the railroad with PTSD because the bomb went off or something. So that might be more interesting than a seal. I don't know. But you came up with a story first.

    Phil Hudson:

    Oh, can you imagine? You have legitimate PTSD and there's stories from even World War ii. It's like things are bad when the chef is loading their pistol. When the cook is loading it, they advance so far across the line that the cooking staff are now preparing to defend themselves. That's a problem. So you imagine that guy comes back and he's in a support group and he's like, yeah, I'm just struggling. And people are talking about, well, we dropped in, we night roped fast, roped in at night to get this guy and an IED went off and this guy is like, well, yeah, our position was overrun. I was like, and what did you do? I was like, I was a cook, and it diminishes your PTSD, but it shouldn't. But it's like That's fascinating.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you may go into the army because you want to become a dentist and the army will pay you to become, learn how to become a dentist, but you're not signing up to carry a pistol. You're signing up to drill teeth and somehow if you got PTSD, like you're saying, your base was overrun or a bomb went up or whatever, this is not what I signed up for and that might be interesting.

    Phil Hudson:

    Very interesting. I want to see that story. Yeah. Four eyes concepts. Can a non-human character be relatable?

    Michael Jamin:

    Can a non-human character be relatable? Well, they should be relatable. We watch the movie cars, it's about cars, but they're not, not cars. They're people who drawn to look like cars. I mean,

    Phil Hudson:

    We talked about data, data from Star Trek, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Everything should be, no one wants to care about a car.

    Phil Hudson:

    Wally.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wally. Exactly. All those are

    Phil Hudson:

    Short circuit

    Michael Jamin:

    Smurfs. Yeah, they're people just

    Phil Hudson:

    Drunk. Johnny five is alive, man.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, so they're not cars or toys. They're people.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Awesome. So it's a craft section. Let's talk questions related to the topic and course Jim Garcia wants to know, how would you approach a true story? Someone they just got the ip, so that sounds like they've optioned it for a CIA badass who did badass things. Would you focus on areas of his life where he isn't such a badass? His complicated backstory?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah, right. To me, it's much more interesting to write about someone's weaknesses than it is to write about their strengths. And so yeah, that's exactly right. What's his problems? What are his weaknesses? That's what I would write about.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. What was that movie you told me to review with Bob Odenkirk where he was like, oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    What was it called again? I liked

    Phil Hudson:

    It. I can see the poster getting punched. Yeah, it'll come to me in a second. But that was an example of someone who just seems like a normal regular paper pusher and then you find out he's got this rich backstory, but it's him struggling to get back there. He's not good at it at first. He's like getting his butt kicked.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I like that movie.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. The name will come to me in a second. TJ wants to know when does a scene end or when should you end a scene is probably a better question.

    Michael Jamin:

    I teach this in a course in bit greater detail, but the scene ends when the character's attitude is no longer the same as it was at the beginning of the scene. And that's when the scene is over. When the character, so for example, well, I got to think now, I won't put it on the spot. I can't think of a, but it is basically a character will get some piece of information and they go, oh, I got to go apologize to her. Or, oh, that does it. I got to rob a bank. It's like now their attitude has shifted. It's slightly different. It was in the beginning, and this is a mistake that most new writers make, is like the scenes continues long after the character. They're continuing to write, even though the scene ended 10 minutes ago. So when the character's attitude is different, has shifted, you're seen is over.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. That's great. Refi wants to know, is story structure pretty much the same worldwide with the exception of cultural differences?

    Michael Jamin:

    I believe so. What differences difference does the language make? And to be honest, I am interested in stories from other cultures because look, we all have love. Love doesn't change from culture to culture. This culture, you may have a range marriage and this culture, you don't have a range marriage and this culture, a marriage ceremony might look different than this culture's marriage ceremony, but love is love and so you're just writing about the same thing. And I appreciate the window into your world because you have a different culture, but we're all humans. We all share the same human emotions, and so that's where people get hung up. It's like, no. Yeah, it's the same. We're all the same.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I met this kid here who's from Iran here in Los Angeles, and we were chatting and I had the opportunity in film school and at Sundance to catch several Iranian films by this Iranian filmmaker and a couple of his cohorts, and he was so impressed by that because I was able to talk about the story structure of these films. And what's interesting is how they have to navigate the politics of a government that funds everything, but also censors everything and how you have to use show, don't tell, and speaking indirectly to get across your message that kind of is political and anti-government, but have the government fund it and think you're doing good work for them. The other, but it's story is what connects and carries through. And the other great film everyone should check out from 2013 is called The Lunchbox, and it's this beautiful film I saw at Sundance and it ties in culture so beautifully to how we approach story. I would absolutely check that one out. David wants to know how can you add to the skeleton of a good character if you have the basis for a compelling character story, but you feel you need to add more to make your character real?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. One of the things I have in the course is a whole worksheet. It's a chart that you need to Game

    Phil Hudson:

    Changer.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's a chart so that you have to fill out a bunch of questions that you have to ask yourself about this character and filling out this chart will really help you flesh out your character in a way you couldn't even imagine. And then there's other characters in this chart, and then you have to say, okay, how does this characteristic, Matt? How do these characters interact? That's another question. And so all of that, if you're really interested, go sign up for my course@michaeljamin.com/course.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. You quickly learn that you're painting all of your characters to be mirrors of each other because you want to talk about that thing, and then it highlights how you can make all of those interactions more beautiful and more interesting, more conflict to just really improve your story. You got that from somebody. Do you want to say who you got that from?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I learned that from Steve Levitan who I worked under. Just shoot me. So much of the knowledge that I teach in this course is just from sitting at the feet of writers who are more experienced than I was.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Do you have your notebook? I don't know if you want to show to people

    Michael Jamin:

    Every once in a while we take this down,

    Phil Hudson:

    So this is something we bring up in the webinars, often even give away a free PDF based on this notebook called the insider's guide to terminology, but that's your notes in your career writing, just writing stuff down from conversations, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, exactly. I would work with other writers and they'd say something smart and I jot into my notebook, and then when I made the course a couple years ago, I just referred to my notebook. I go, this is what I want to teach.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's awesome. This is Christina in our course, and this isn't really a question, but Kevin, who prepped this for me, left it in says in Michael's course, I learned how to figure out once and for all those act breaks that were a real headache for me before story structure is so well explained. It becomes much easier after. Yeah. She's

    Michael Jamin:

    Had a good lot of success. Christina,

    Phil Hudson:

    She doing well. I was about to say she's taken her life mind for all these rich stories, and she's written, I think books and then now plays and those plays are being performed and touring. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Not

    Phil Hudson:

    Bad. She credits you for helping her figure out how to break the story, but you didn't tell her what life to live and her experience or how to paint the story. You said this is how you tell your story, and she did that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Good for her.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. We have one question on breaking in. This is from new legend pictures. I've been wondering about writing for a foreign audience. For example, I'd like to write something in the vein of Korean dramas. I know there's probably no way to break it into the US market.

    Michael Jamin:

    Writing a Korean drama.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, just writing for other things, specifically a Korean drama.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, are they Korean or are they American? I

    Phil Hudson:

    Sounds immediate. It's because this is a foreign audience. Sounds to me like this is someone who really enjoys Korean dramas and wants to take a stab at writing one.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I see. I don't know anything about Korean

    Phil Hudson:

    Drama. I think you were just saying, is that worth doing to try to break in? Is that a good sample?

    Michael Jamin:

    I would assume if that's your culture and you can write something, like I said, you can write a story that it could be, I could have a window into your culture. That's interesting to me to see what that's about, but at the end of the day, you still experience love the way I do. It's the same. Sure. If that's your culture, right, and you understand the Korean culture better than because you're Korean. Yeah. Lean into it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Lean into it. What if you're not Korean and you just like ca dramas,

    Michael Jamin:

    Then you're in dangerous territory. Someone might say, what do you know you're talking about? Or people might have a problem with you. I don't want to debate whether it's right or wrong, but you make run into trouble with that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I would think that if you want to just write it to get it out of your system and it helps you improve your craft, great. But be tread lightly. Right. Next. Do most shows have, this is the same person, do most shows have each episode have their own full story arc? Or is it the whole season or the series or both?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, every episode has to have a complete story, and then you may have a longer a story arc. This character is going back to college for the first time, but that one episode has to feel fulfilling. It has to feel like, yeah. Okay. And that there has to be a story in that episode. If it's not a complete story, people are going to be bored by it. And then the next episode, you're taking that journey a little further, but this is a question whether you want to serialize or your project or not. But again, you don't need to worry about any of this. You need to write one complete compelling episode of television. You don't need to worry about seasons, episodes two through 10. Just give me one damn good episode. Give me the pilot. That's all I need.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Ruth wants to know, say your agent is into a spec script, but you want to pursue it, can you try to pitch it yourself? How bound are you to what your agent wants?

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder if they're talking about me or themselves.

    Phil Hudson:

    I think what they're saying is like, Hey, I have an agent and I've got the spec script. It's a film and my agent says he's not into it. Can I go pitch it myself or do I have to listen to my agent?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, you can do whatever you want. I, but I don't expect your agent to help you with that. If you want to go for it, they can't stop you go for it. I mean, the agent's trying to help you, and if they feel like they're helping you, they're going to give you their best advice. But if you don't want to take it, don't take it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I was listening to an interview with Dead Mouse, and he said that there was a track that he wasn't really into, and his tour manager was like, dude, this is great. You got to drop it. And he didn't want to do it. And for months and months he didn't. And they kept tour manager kept saying, when are you going to drop it? And he ran out of stuff. He dropped it. It's his biggest hit. Sometimes you don't even know what is good for you, but Vice First is sometimes other people don't know what's good for you, and it's all risks, risk and reward. William, go for it. David Cook is Amadeus. Amadeus is I think something that came up in the webinar.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I love that movie.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. My wife's favorite film. I think I told you she wants me to name one of our kids, Wolfgang. And I was like, no. And you're like, I might be on her side.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wolfie.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's what she wants to call him. She wants to name Wolfgang to call him Wolfie, which I think just whatever is Amadeus a story about an extraordinary person in an ordinary world or about Salie, an ordinary person in the extraordinary world of Amadeus.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so interesting. It really is a story within a story, and you keep popping back out to Salieri in present time. Why did he go mad? Because, so yeah, it's a story within a story. There's really two stories. You're watching Solis descent into Madness because he killed this beautiful creature. Why did he do it? Yeah. So who's the hero of that?

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, it's called Amadeus.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is called Amadeus. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    Right. So this is like Sicario. Did you ever see Sicario?

    Michael Jamin:

    I did,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So who is it about? Is it about Emily Blunt or is it about Benicio Del Toro and I think it wasn't until I got about three quarters of the way through, I was like, oh, we started on Emily Blunt, but that is not the protagonist.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's really just a framing device. The soli part of it. Who's got 90% of the screen time? Amadeus.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. Alright. Marla wants to know hat on a hat. New favorite saying, do you want to tell people what that is?

    Michael Jamin:

    We often say when you refer to a joke, sometimes you put a punchline on top of the punchline. And so we say it's a hat on a hat, if

    Phil Hudson:

    You like that come to the webinar where we can give out that book based on the free ebook based on Michael's notebook, insider Guide to Writing terminology.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. There's a bunch of terms that we give away. If you want to learn what they are, come to these webinars and we give 'em away.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, everybody gets that for just coming. So I had an eye hat, new favorite. If you base a character on someone in your life or someone in your life recognizes themselves in your writing, can they sue you?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I don't give legal advice, but I'll say you're protected. If you change their name, I would assume you can change their name, you could change their occupation, you could hide who they are. And if they were to come out, they're essentially calling themselves out. Why would they be dumb enough to do that? But I'm not worried about it, but I don't give legal advice. So yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    I think that the person that will need to worry about that is the studio that buys it, and it becomes so wildly successful. That person has a financial incentive to sue you. I don't think it's necessarily something you need to worry about on a spec.

    Michael Jamin:

    I would hope not. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Ruth, w what criteria do you consider when taking a job? Early in your career, you worked for both Steve Levitan and Greg Daniels, but then you didn't work on Modern Family or The Office. Why

    Michael Jamin:

    Fired? Oh, fired. Fired. I wasn't offered jobs on Fired. Fired, offered fired. I wasn't offered jobs on those, but I mean, I also had a job. So when Modern Family came out that season, I remember actually meeting with Steve and my partner and I already had a job on, we were running a show called Glen Martin, so it wasn't even like we were trying to get that job. I don't remember what the office was doing, but I'm sure I also had, I've worked every year, I'm sure I also had a job at the time. So a lot of times, and by the way, I've missed out on opportunities, I've missed out on shows that were really big simply because I already had a job and when the show, it's not like this show was going to be a giant hit. You don't know this. Even a great show could be a flop.

    Phil Hudson:

    And Glen Martin, that was the first time show running right for you. And C, it

    Michael Jamin:

    Was the first time show running, and I was very happy to be running a show. I was like, oh, good. I've never done it before. So it was exciting and I'm glad I did it, but I would've made a lot more money had I been on Modern Family for sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Follow up question. When you get to a higher level of writer, say co-producer, do you still need to submit a script to the showrunner or is hiring based on your interview and past EV work you've done?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh no. You almost always, you have to be read. You need a writing sample, and it has to be a current writing sample, and it has to be good. You're never done writing for free in Hollywood. You're always writing.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Derek Nyberg. What if the audience can't differentiate between fiction and reality and carries those powerful story themes into the voting booth? Does this explain why the worst of all possible characters are now elected officials walking around the Capitol building in Washington? Does this explain society's addiction to conflict?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't think the two have anything to do with each other. Just to be clear, I think you're giving us way too much credit that the characters we create somehow become political figures. I

    Phil Hudson:

    Think that's like asking, was Shakespeare's success with Caesar, with Julius Caesar or with King Richard III or any of these other things he'd done, was that successful because he wrote them as story and then that led to other people being crazy? Or is it because he was writing about the reality of these people? Life imitates art imitates life, whereas it's

    Michael Jamin:

    Chicken cat. Yeah, it goes in both directions. But basically you take a show like the one Julie Louis Red come on talking about the political, sorry, beep Veep. Yes. Yeah, sorry. That show would not have been made if there already weren't people in politics acting like jackasses because you wouldn't believe you couldn't sell the show. You'd be like, I don't buy that. Any elected official could be that fricking stupid, but because it was already out there, you see it now, you can sell a show on it. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. That's great. Alright, and this is a comment, not a question, but I thought this was a good way to end this. Braves wants to know, I'm an aspiring screenwriter from India, and the knowledge you share on your Instagram helped me get my first internship. Always look forward to developing my skillset further. Thank you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, good for you. Congratulations.

    Phil Hudson:

    And that's someone who's not only in your social media, but the webinars, and that's a reminder to everybody to come to the webinars. They're free. We do them very regularly, and there's always something to learn in those.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's it. This is a short one, but thank you everyone. Thanks for listening once again. This episode's brought to you by a paper orchestra, my debut collection of personal essays available. You can get on Amazon, you can get anywhere you want. Barnes and Nobles Apple

    Phil Hudson:

    Sign copies@michaeljamin.com.

    Michael Jamin:

    If you want, get it from me directly, I'll sign it for you. And that's it, Michael. Yeah, thank you so much everyone. Thank you. Thank you for your questions.

    Phil Hudson:

    Until next time,

    Michael Jamin:

    Keep reading,

    Phil Hudson:

    Keep reading. Keep reading

    Michael Jamin:

    My book. Read the book. Okay, everyone,

    Wow. I did it again. Another fantastic episode of What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? How do I do it week after week? Well, I don't do it with advertiser supported money. I tell you how I do it. I do it with my book. If you'd like to support the show, if you'd like to support me, go check out my new book, A Paper Orchestra. It asks the question, what if it's the smallest, almost forgotten moments that are the ones that shape us most? Laura Sanoma says, good storytelling also leads us to ourselves, our memories, our beliefs, personal and powerful. I love the Journey. And Max Munic, who was on my show says, as the father of daughters, I found Michael's understanding of parenting and the human condition to be spot on. This book is a fantastic read. Go check it out for yourself. Go to michael jamin.com/book. Thank you all and stay tuned. More. Great stuff coming next week.

    41m | Feb 28, 2024
  • Ep 121 - "Bones" Executive Producer - Jonathan Collier

    On this week's episode, I have Writer/Executive Producer, Jonathan Collier (Bones, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Monk, and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also talk about his side hustle and how that came about! Tune in as we have so much more.

    Show Notes

    Jonathan Collier on X: https://twitter.com/collierjonathan 

    Jonathan Collier IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0171927/

    Jonathan Collier on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Collier

    A Paper Orchestra on Website: - https://michaeljamin.com/book

    A Paper Orchestra on Audible: - https://www.audible.com/ep/creator?source_code=PDTGBPD060314004R&irclickid=wsY0cWRTYxyPWQ32v63t0WpwUkHzByXJyROHz00&irgwc=1

    A Paper Orchestra on Amazon: - https://www.amazon.com/Audible-A-Paper-Orchestra/dp/B0CS5129X1/ref=sr_1_4?crid=19R6SSAJRS6TU&keywords=a+paper+orchestra&qid=1707342963&sprefix=a+paper+orchestra%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-4

    A Paper Orchestra on Goodreads: - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203928260-a-paper-orchestra

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

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

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

    Join My Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Jonathan Collier:

    It was after season eight, and I thought they were trying to get me to go to King of the Hill, and I had whatever, I had the chance to stay at Simpson's. And I thought, well, there's no way it goes past season 10.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Or any show goes past season 10.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It just doesn't happen. And so I left. I thought, I kind of felt badly leaving, but I thought, what's much better? Do you want to show with some like in it

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about conversations in writing, art, and creativity. Today's episode is brought to you by my debut collection of True Stories, a paper orchestra available in print, ebook and audiobook to purchase. And to support me in this podcast, please visit michael jamin.com/book and now on with the show.

    All right, everyone, welcome back to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? My next guest is an old colleague of mine, old friend from my days on King of the Hill before I let him talk his name's John Coly or welcome to the show, but let me tell you what he's done. The Sky's credits are pretty incredible. So you sit back and relax. Lemme tell you what he's done. So he wrote on The Simpsons. Okay, we've heard of that show and I'm only giving some of the highlights, some of the highlights, some Scooby dos, which I did not know. King of the Hill Monk, the Good Family Bones, the Good Cop Law and Order. I mean, this guy has done well. He's done a lot. But thank you so much, man, for doing the show.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, it's a pleasure, Michael. Thank you for having me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Let me tell you about who you are because I remember very clearly walking to my, on my way to my office on King of the Hill. Yours was, I would always walk past you and I would often stop and say hello. Or sometimes I would just sit and you always had a big smile. You're always so happy to greet me and have me there. And I never felt like I was getting in the way you Yeah, come on in. Come on. You're always very kind.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I am endlessly in search of distractions.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I do remember walking past you on days when you're on script and just looking miserable. I

    Jonathan Collier:

    Am. Thank you. Nope, that's exactly it. Well observed. I am never more miserable than I am alone in writing.

    Michael Jamin:

    But why is that? Do you feel?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, it's a horrible thing to do. TV writing is one of the most fun, engaging, productive things you can do if you're with other people. And I love that part of it. And the small portion of the job that relies on you being alone entails, I should say, you being alone and actually writing something without people around is misery for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But is it the comedy part? You also do drama now? Which one is harder?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Comedy is harder.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. But yeah, I would agree with that as well. But is it miserable to write drama as well?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I find the process of keeping stuff alive and interesting and propulsive is really, really hard.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how do know? You know when it's alive?

    Jonathan Collier:

    What, sorry?

    Michael Jamin:

    How do you know?

    Jonathan Collier:

    How do I know when it's right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. How do you know?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Part of what makes it so miserable is you can always second guess yourself. And even more so when there's jokes involved.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, for jokes for sure. And what was that transition like for you? I'm amazed that anyone can do it.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, I got very lucky. What happened was that King of the Hill was, we got canceled. You remember? It was time. The show got canceled. It was canceled two times.

    Michael Jamin:

    We left after the first time.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah, left. So it got canceled. And I really realized it was for real when they started moving our furniture out of the office

    Michael Jamin:

    Because you were going to squat there.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I had every intention of squatting.

    Michael Jamin:

    You thought it was all Big bluff until they moved at the furniture.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And so that was happening. And I had done comedy for about 17 years at that point. And I didn't love doing for camera comedy. I liked doing animation and there were no real single camera comics, comedies on the air at the time, and I didn't quite know what to do, but I knew I stopped watching comedies. I kind of could feel the sweat on them and the work on them because I worked in so many comedy rooms. And I got really lucky, which is that Andy Breckman, who was running Monk at the time, who created the show, he used to have three guest writers come in every season. And he did that because he felt like he kept him on track. If you came in as a guest to the room in New York, it made him concentrate and work harder and make sure that in five days you would break a story.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why? Because people flew in, you mean?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah, because the network would fly, the studio would fly you into New York and put you up and they would only keep you there for five days.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, that's interesting.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I got one of those. So I got one of those guest shots. And the other thing I got way I got lucky was

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, but how did you get that guest shot?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I got that guest shot because this is embarrassing. My agent at the time who I didn't think was doing enough for me, got me a meeting with Andy Breckman, and I thought it was just one meeting with Andy Breckman, who's a great guy, and I love the show, but who knows if it's going to turn into anything. I fired my agent, moved on to another agent, and then Andy called me up and said, oh, we want you to do this episode a month.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right.

    Jonathan Collier:

    But there was no,

    Michael Jamin:

    But I've already fired my agent.

    Jonathan Collier:

    That was done. What happened was that, anyway, Andy used to only hire comedy writers to do guest episodes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Because his theory was that he could teach a comedy writer how to write a procedural. He could not teach a procedural writer how to be fun. So anyway, they flew into New York, I was in the room, we broke a story and I wrote it and it went well. The whole thing went well, and I got very lucky again because no one had ever really left the show or been added to it. This was the fourth season and one writer was leaving and Andy offered me the job. So I came in and went on staff the next season.

    Michael Jamin:

    How many seasons did you do there?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I did two more seasons and then the writer's strike of 2007 happened. And when that happened, I didn't know how long that would go on. Mike and the Good Family was starting up and they got what was called a strike waiver, and there were certain production companies and one was MRC, media Rights Capital, and they made a deal with the WGA, with the Writers Guild that they could do shows that were during the strike and it would not be strike breaking to work on those shows if they agreed to abide by the Wgas terms, the writer's terms. The WGA was using that as a tactic to try to force the studios to,

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's funny, they didn't really do that this last strike.

    Jonathan Collier:

    No, I don't think it really helped.

    Michael Jamin:

    You don't think it helped?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I don't know if it did or actually, no, I can't say if it did or not. I thought all I can say is I think this last strike was better run than the first one. I think a lot was learned from the first one. Anyway, I left Monk because I got a job right away rather than being strike.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Let me ask you that. When you're on Monk and you are with procedural writers who are not comedy writers, when they would pitch something that you and I would call a clam, or if you would pitch it in the room at the Simpson, the King of the Hill, someone would say, right? Was there a lot of that going on? Were you the guy who said, yeah, that's not really a joke?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, no. At Mon though, you had, first of all, it was comedy writers. It was a small staff and it was four people whose background was comedy, including Andy Breckman, and then one High Conrad, who was just a terrific mystery writer. And he had written something like 200 mystery books. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And the way he got on was that Andy met with him and took him out for lunch and said, look, I love your mystery books, and you have two choices. One is you come on staff or two was I'm just going to steal all your plots anyway.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh wow.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Hi was on whatever came on staff, and he was on UNK for the whole run. And then he was on The Good Cop with Me Too. It was on, that was another Andy Breckman show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. It's so interesting. And to what did you think of that world? I mean, compared to comedy?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, it was a really kind of easy, delicate transition because it was a mystery show once again, written by comedy writers.

    Michael Jamin:

    Writers. It was light. It was fun.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah. A procedural written by non-com writers would've been a tougher adjustment for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But even the procedural explain to me and everyone else, how do you write a procedural?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I think there's many different ways to write a procedural. The way I write a procedural is what really happened comes first.

    Michael Jamin:

    What really happens comes first. What does that mean?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Okay. What you have to think of is what was our crime? What's the procedure about? What are we investigating?

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, so give me an example.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It's not a medical procedural. This is a criminal procedural. I'm talking

    Michael Jamin:

    About, okay, so someone's dead,

    Jonathan Collier:

    Someone is dead. And then you have all sorts of questions you can ask that can form the basis for an episode. You can say, oh, is it an accident? Is it a suicide? Is it a murder? If it is a murder, or who did it? Why did they do it? Who could have done it? There any number of, is it an open book where the audience knows what happened? Is it a closed book where the audience doesn't know and learns along with our investigators?

    Michael Jamin:

    Did you basically do both?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Monk did both opened and closed book. And Monk also did a combination of who done, its who was the killer, why done, its, we know who the killer is, but why on earth would they kill someone? And that's how we can prove they did it. And how done its, it's an incredibly, it's a locked room mystery, for instance, where someone was killed inside the locked room, how did the killer get in there and do

    Michael Jamin:

    It? Interesting. Had

    Jonathan Collier:

    To figure out how the crime was done.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so these words are so funny. So as you were breaking the story, you'd break 'em in the room with all the writers, I assume, right? And then throw out ideas, and then someone would say, okay, but let's do this, make it a wide, let's make it a wide done at this week. Is that what it is?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, I think we'd look at the killing and say, what's a really, really ingenious killing? We could do?

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Say, okay, let's look at the motive. And then we'd say, last, you'd spend probably say you were breaking a story over the course. If it was just us, we probably spent seven to eight days breaking a story. We weren't having a guest writer in. And the first three or four days probably spent just figuring out how the crime was done and why really getting

    Michael Jamin:

    It seems very hard to me. This seems very hard to me.

    Jonathan Collier:

    For me, it was somewhat natural way to do it because it was really fun. And for some, I feel like I was using my comedy muscles, even my plotting muscles to figure out why you did it. And then you work backwards once, and this is just us. Other shows do it different ways. There's probably a million different ways to do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. But you start work backwards. So first you decide if it's going to be a who, what or why is that what it's,

    Jonathan Collier:

    First of all, first of all, you can't figure out who kills who and why, who killed who, who kills who. How do they do it, why do they do it, where do they do it? All those things. Then you figure out how do we solve it? And for a show like Monk, he'd also say, well, I have someone who has OCD. I have someone who was painfully shy as someone who was any number of traumas in his life. Also a comic character who happens to be the saddest person on television, and he has a tragedy to his life. And what's the world I can put him in to make him the most uncomfortable?

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? And that's how you begin. That's where you start. That's

    Jonathan Collier:

    Often where, that's often where the fun of it comes from. The comedy is from seeing him in the world where he's uncomfortable, because comedy is all about discomfort. The emotional story would often come from how he will relate to the world and what it would bring up in his own life. And then the procedural story is how you solve the crime.

    Michael Jamin:

    You

    Jonathan Collier:

    Go ahead. Sorry.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, no, go ahead.

    Jonathan Collier:

    The way one could look at it is for us on that show, the procedural story was almost with the armature. It's what you would call the plot, I guess. And the real story was the emotional story that was threaded through the plot.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, of course.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And the two of them dovetail and one comment on the other, like a musical comedy, for instance, where songs are the twists, they provide the transition points in the story. You could say the emotional twists or the procedural twists would provide a transition point for each other.

    Michael Jamin:

    It still sounds very hard to me. Does it get easier?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, I think it probably sounds hard because I'm probably overcomplicating it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, not really, because you're solving, because see, and I are thinking of writing a procedural, and so we're watching some, and I'm like, I don't know. I don't think I know how to do this.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, I'll help you with it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, good. You're hired.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It is not that hard because it's actually easier I found than writing an episode of King of a Hill where someone buys a new hat and it changes their life and life. You have to make a whole story out of that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. But you still have to figure out, it's a mystery. You're solving a crime and you have to make it so it's smart. I mean, I've watched other ones where they throw in a clue just when you need it, oh good, I dug a new clue so I can figure out another scene.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And there's shows that do that. And there's shows that I like, if you don't get a show like Merab Town,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? I haven't

    Jonathan Collier:

    Seen it. Okay. That's real lies procedural. And what you realize is it is not about solving the crime. I mean, it's all the crime, but it is really about the emotional drama that's happening. And the crime is, once again, is almost the backdrop

    Michael Jamin:

    For it. But to me, that's what makes it so that's why I want to get rid of the crime. Can we just focus on the relationship between the mother and the daughter that I get?

    Jonathan Collier:

    And the one I thought does comment on the other, and they're both of us family, and I felt like that show worked pretty well. It's very much not a show that I would know how to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, and that takes me to law and your latest, but Okay, bones, and let's talk about what you're doing now. That's very different. Law and order.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, I'm not doing Law and Order now. I stopped after last season.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, you did? Okay. But that must be very procedural. I mean, procedural.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Procedural, very procedural, very different beast. I mean, it was a challenge to figure it out, but I think I'm much more comfortable in this space where there's more character involved.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, right. I would think

    Jonathan Collier:

    The part I like best is where I've been most comfortable and enjoyed the most is character driven procedurals.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Which is kind of like what USA does, right?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, back when they existed,

    Michael Jamin:

    Back when they were doing it.

    Jonathan Collier:

    So no, in other shows, there's been a lot of character-based procedurals on TV over the years, and that's what Bones was. Keone was a character-based procedural.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you were the showrunner that you were the executive producer?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I was the showrunner for a while, yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that was the first time. Was that the first time you ran a show or no?

    Jonathan Collier:

    No. I've run another show on the CW called As If

    Michael Jamin:

    Before. Oh. But this is the, I still would imagine now that you're the boss of a procedural, I don't know. I need help. So it seems so hard to me. Wellm hung up on that.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I took over a show that was already working very

    Michael Jamin:

    Well.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Har Hansen, who created, it was a hundred yards away on the Fox lot in his office. I could always go running to him for help if I needed

    Michael Jamin:

    It. Right. And you had the same staff,

    Jonathan Collier:

    Sorry.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you had the staff, the previous same staff.

    Jonathan Collier:

    We had much of the same staff. And I had a co-Ho Runner, Michael Peterson, who was terrific. And I had Steven Nathan, who I took over the show from and only left because I was still a very close friend, and I could call him up whenever I needed to.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Jonathan Collier:

    I think starting from scratch is always much harder, or walking into a situation not immediately comfortable is always much harder too.

    Michael Jamin:

    But now that you've, I see this as opening a lot of doors for you. Has it? Because now you have two genres under your belt.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yes and no. It's always hard. I mean, you have to always be out there in whatever writing. And there's a limited number of jobs that a lot of people want to do, and the people who want to do those jobs tend to be, when you think of it, just in terms of being practical, it's a great profession when you're doing it. But it's one of the stupidest professions to try to do because your competition is really smart, really talented, really talented, really inspired, really wants to do it and works really hard. There's a lot of businesses that aren't like that

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to. What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Today's episode is brought to you by my new book, A Paper Orchestra, A collection of True Stories. John Mayer says, it's fantastic. It's multi timbral. It runs all levels of the pyramid at the same time. His knockout punches are stinging, sincerity, and Kirks Review says, those who appreciate the power of simple stories to tell us about human nature or who are bewitched by a storyteller who has mastered his craft, will find a delightful collection of vignettes, a lovely anthology that strikes a perfect balance between humor and poignancy. So my podcast is not advertiser supported. I'm not running ads here. So if you'd like to support me or the podcast, come check out my book. Go get an ebook or a paperback, or if you really want to treat yourself, check out the audio book. Go to michael jamin.com/book. And now back to our show.

    How do you know, were you in a lot of businesses?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I have a side business.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is your side business? Is it you rent folding shows for parties?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Well, no. I actually do multifamily housing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait. Oh, I knew about this. Right.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And believe me, my competition in multifamily housing will be damned if they want to spend 80 bucks to fix the toilet the right way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, do you build or you refurbish? What does that mean?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I do it with a partner who's also a writer, and we refurbish and build and rent.

    Michael Jamin:

    And Is it in LA or all over the country?

    Jonathan Collier:

    It's in Los Angeles.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is amazing. I remember, but I don't know. That's a whole different skillset. Who told you you were qualified to do that?

    Jonathan Collier:

    I think we always revert back to who we are,

    Michael Jamin:

    Which was, you were always a real estate mogul in the beginning.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, I'm not a mogul by any means. We're mom and pop level of multifamily housing, but whatever. My family had small family businesses probably going back to the Middle Ages and they were butchers and bakers and ran a little in, did all those things. And that's where I immediately felt comfortable doing this.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. Was it your idea to get into, how did that idea come up?

    Jonathan Collier:

    That came up during the 2007 strike also?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, everything comes up during the strike when you're out of work.

    Jonathan Collier:

    So you're out of work, you're walking around with a picket sign. Yeah. I was thinking, wait a second. I'm walking around with a picket sign with a lot of angry, middle-aged guys. We're all mad at their fathers and taking it out in the studio.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay,

    Jonathan Collier:

    We are at the mercy. We're putting yourself in a position where we're walking around with a sign waiting for a giant multinational corporation to pay us a lot of money to do something that we frankly love to do. And I'm not really in control of my faith here.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, we're not.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And so that's where my partner and I decided to do it. And then fortunately for us, I know what happened. I talked about it and I started talking about it with one of my daughter's, babysitters.

    Michael Jamin:

    How many babysitters does she have?

    Jonathan Collier:

    We had a hundred babysitters, a hundred best babysitters in all of Los

    Michael Jamin:

    Angeles. She required a lot of babysitters. Okay,

    Jonathan Collier:

    Whatever. When we go out, we'd have whatever, five people we call, whatever. And I've all come over at once. This woman was actually getting, I talked to her about it because while she was babysitting for us, she was getting her real estate license.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Wow.

    Jonathan Collier:

    And so she called me up and said, I have a building for you, and it is a really good deal, and Washington Mutual Bank is trying to unload it really fast. This is now 2008 or so, and the whole real estate market's falling apart.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how many units is this building approximately?

    Jonathan Collier:

    This building has five units.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. So it's small. We

    Jonathan Collier:

    Did not know what we were doing, but we went and looked at it. We bought it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. We had to make a company first. You had to do all the legal stuff.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah. We formed what's called an LLC. We talked to a lawyer who was a cousin of someone, and they told us what to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    Real estate. As it turned out, a brilliant idea. It was probably the best idea you've ever had in la.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It was a very, very lucky time to do it. And so people, I found once again, like I was saying earlier, my competition in real estate was not as talented or hardworking or smart as my competition in television writing, but they were a lot luckier. And just by the strange confluence of events where interest rates went down and the economy started to pick up eventually, we all just by good fortune, by luck, it worked out well. It worked. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is important because as you mentioned, nothing is guaranteed as a writer, nothing is guaranteed. And so to have something on the side is really helpful. Gives you some breathing. I highly

    Jonathan Collier:

    Recommend to people. I always tell whatever, when I talk to actors, I'm always thrilled when I hear that they're writing, even though they tend to be very good writers, and I don't like that. Or when they're doing something, when they're going to law school, when they're doing anything else, it's just nice to have a backup. It helps you sleep better at night.

    Michael Jamin:

    It does. Yeah, it really does. What's that?

    Jonathan Collier:

    You have your podcast.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is my empire, as you see. There you

    Jonathan Collier:

    Go.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. My media empire. Now, you wrote an episode of King of the Hill, because when I talk about King of the Hill, and this is 20 years ago, we were doing it. One episode people often bring up to me is Bobby is the Pygmalion episode, which you wrote.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    People want to know about that. And we were just joining the show at that time. I'm

    Jonathan Collier:

    Glad to hear that. I still think about that episode actually, when I said, I hate writing alone. I don't hate all of writing alone. I love the last two or three days of writing alone, punching up. I feel like face with a blank page. And once I've kind of taken a sledgehammer and beaten that script into shape, actually turning it from serviceable to good is actually fun. That part of it. And I remember the last three days or so on that script were really fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    But how did it, I mean, that was a departure. I mean, everyone there said, this is the departure. This is the episode, which ended in a really dark place.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It was a gothic thriller.

    Michael Jamin:

    How did you sell it to Greg? To the staff? I dunno if he was running the show then How did you sell? It was there. It was a departure.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Greg was there, so Greg was still there. I don't know if he was officially running the show, but he was there. Greg had to approve everything. He was basically, and Greg, God bless him. Not only did he embrace the gothic nature of it, but he pushed it even more. And some of the really strong gothic elements like killing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. The guy died at the end

    Jonathan Collier:

    Who loved. I think that may have been Greg's idea.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was there a moment though, when you go, wait a minute. Are you sure that this doesn't seem like the tone of the show? I mean, it's mostly Hank watering his lawn.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, no. Once we were going to do it, I was off full speed ahead. I wanted to embrace it also. Now, there were other people there at the time. It was a big staff and whatever. Everyone had valid opinions or people who did not embrace it the way that they were entitled to that. But I think we pretty much got the episode we wanted up on the screen for

    Michael Jamin:

    Sure, man. I mean, that got some big, I remember watching the Color in the animation. We watched the color in the Room. That's a big, it was like, whoa.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah. There were very large twists and turns. Yeah. It is always really fun to push a genre.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is

    Jonathan Collier:

    Carefully, closely observed family comedy and turned it into a large scale gothic drill.

    Michael Jamin:

    I had a conversation with Dave Krinsky. He ran the show at one point that, and the funny thing is, because people on social media, they're still watching King of the Hill. I haven't watched it since we were on it, because that's it. You leave it alone, you're onto the next show, and people really remember it. They remember it. They want to talk about it. And I'm like, I'm sorry. I don't really remember this episode. And Krinsky felt the same way, and he ran it. It's like, I don't really remember this. Do you remember everything? Oh, no. No. It's interesting that I think people have this expectation of the writers that we should still be living in it and we can't because we have to move on to whatever else we're writing.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah. No, you only have so much room in your

    Michael Jamin:

    Head. Yeah.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I mean, part of it is we're too busy hanging on every grudge and slight and moment of shame in our lives to use in our comedy.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, okay, so I know you don't have too much time, but what do you writing? What do you want to write next? Do you want to write procedural comedy? What do you want to do? I

    Jonathan Collier:

    Really like the procedural space. I'm working on a procedural right now with a terrific writer who I was on bones with

    Michael Jamin:

    To sell as a pitch.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Well, that makes sense. I mean, and given your track record, I would assume it'd probably be easier for you to sell a procedural. I don't know. There, no,

    Jonathan Collier:

    I have no idea. We are in an odd market, so we'll see.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you know about the market? I hear just from talking to other writers, I don't think anybody really know. What do you know about the market?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, nothing. I know what I read in the trades. I know what I read in Deadline Hollywood.

    Michael Jamin:

    And by that you mean what's getting picked up?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah, I know what everyone else knows. I have no information. I do know anecdotally, my friends at least have had trouble selling things.

    Michael Jamin:

    They're having trouble selling right now. That's what I'm telling them, because they don't know how much money they have. Yeah.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It is an inflection point in the business, and there's been periodic inflection points, whatever, where it's pointed in one direction or another, but no one really knows what they mean while you're in them.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah. It's so, so smart about real estate. I'm still hung up on that, and I know this is not a podcast about that, but in a way it is. It's a podcast about having your fingers in many whatever it is, pots or something. Pies. What is it? I don't know what the expression is.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It is generally pies.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is it? What about a pot pie, like a chicken pot pie? It's generally pies, you said, man. So, okay. So that's kind of what you're taking out there is you're working on, and how often do you meet and do you work on it?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, we meet every day really? More or less every day. I like to work for about three or four hours

    Michael Jamin:

    In person. You meet?

    Jonathan Collier:

    No, we work on Zoom. And I don't like Zoom rooms, and I've been in some of those, but I like working with just one writer on Zoom, if you know them Well, it's fun. I mean, I found that in a regular room, and I'm sure people have told you this on your podcast and otherwise that, especially when you're No anything character based, any show, if it is not character based, the fun of it really is. And a lot of the creativity comes from what's not going on in the room. It comes from walking to lunch. It comes from Brow Cup coffee. It comes from killing time doing something else on the lot or your office. And that's when the ideas kind of come out of you. And you don't get that on Zoom.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, you don't. I wonder. Yeah. So was never Back. The rooms never got back. The last show I was on, it was still Zoom. Have you gone back in person?

    Jonathan Collier:

    No.

    Michael Jamin:

    No. Isn't that weird?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Really? I mean, I helped out, I did some punch up on a movie, and that was in person and on some punch up on an HBO series. Really? That didn't go, but that was whatever, a mini room. And those were both in person, but they were small and they were limited duration. So like a full functioning show in person. I have not done since the

    Michael Jamin:

    Pandemic. I wonder. Yeah, I wonder. They're just trying to save money. I don't think they're about saving lives. I think it's about saving money.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I think they're saving money. I think that sometimes one thing they found during Zoom is you get to writers in different cities. And so if you have writers in different cities to even the playing field, whatever, everyone's on Zoom rather than someone being in New York and someone being in Seattle and someone being in Los Angeles. But I certainly enjoy and benefit from the physical presence of other writers. It's hard enough to do it much easier and more fun when you're with other people.

    Michael Jamin:

    For me,

    Jonathan Collier:

    I have worked with writers who love being alone doing it. They have an entirely different experience and approach to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, a lot of it's about the commute to work. You're probably central.

    Jonathan Collier:

    I'm fairly central, but I know people who actually, they don't want to be in a room. I've worked with wonderful writers who would much prefer to be alone and knock it out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you like going, working on set? Do you like being on set?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Yeah, I do. I mean, I think it depends. Every set has its own character politics, and it's not particularly fun being on set if you have a difficult lead or whatever, if there's something going on there or if there's tension between the stars or if there's, there's any number of ways you can have tension on the set. By and large, I've been very lucky. They've been good sets, and it's been fun. And also, it's the last step and whatever. One thing you realize on the set is when you spend significant time on the set, you realize how many people are really offering the show that you may have ridden,

    Michael Jamin:

    That you may have, I'm sorry, what?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Your name is on a script, but everyone on that set, hair and makeup, your whatever, your director, everyone has your camera operators. They're all helping create that show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Writers in their own way, and they're adding elements to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And I know I have to ask this because we have so many fans of The Simpsons, but what was that whole experience like for you? Because you were there in the early days?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Fairly early days. It was really, first of all, it was a huge break in my career that was good for me. I didn't have my first child until very late in my stay there. And that changed everything where suddenly, oh wait, sitting here with our comedy writers till 1130 at night might not be as energizing and fun when you have a baby to get home

    Michael Jamin:

    To

    Jonathan Collier:

    That you want to see. So the hours were fairly brutal back then, but I still wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    I can't imagine, though, that the hours were like that now, right?

    Jonathan Collier:

    No, they're fairly from what friends, were still there. And the hours are very sane now. And they're generally home for dinner.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, that's so interesting is that they've made a career that show's been on 30, what, 35 years or something?

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, yeah. And they can still turn out some terrific episodes,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it's a career. Your career, okay. You might as well be working at Exxon. That's your career. You get a gold watch and then that's you're done.

    Jonathan Collier:

    When I left, it was after season eight, and I thought they were trying to get me to go to King of the Hill, and I had whatever, I had the chance to stay at Simpson's. And I thought, well, there's no way it goes past season 10

    Michael Jamin:

    Or any show goes past season 10.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It just doesn't happen. And so I left. I thought I kind of felt badly leaving, but I thought, what much better do you want to show with some life in it?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But then again, it's also these people that's, they have job security, which is unheard of in Hollywood.

    Jonathan Collier:

    It is absolutely unheard of. And no, actually, that's one of the great gigs to have right now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah. For sure. For sure. I know you got to go. We talked about this earlier, but I want to thank you in person as we want to hang up and then briefly thank you, and then I'll let you leave.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Oh, thank you for having me. This was really fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is, honestly, it was so interesting catching up and just hearing your perspective on all this. And yeah, you're going to be our, if the show ever goes, you're our first hire to make a procedural. I don't know how to make, I don't know how to do any of this. Oh, thank you. Yeah.

    Jonathan Collier:

    Are we on air now or are we recording

    Michael Jamin:

    Still? Not yet. I'll sign off and I'll stop recording. Okay. Okay, everyone, thank you so much. That was John Collier. Great guy. Okay,

    Jonathan Collier:

    Everyone. He promised me a job on air. You heard it.

    Michael Jamin:

    I did say that. Yeah, but there's always got to go. That's a bigger, so it's an empty promise. So, all right, everyone, thank you so much. Go. Yeah. A paper orchestra dropped this week, my new collection of True stories@michaeljamin.com. Go check it out. Alright, everyone, thanks so much. Until next week. Keep writing.

    Wow. I did it again. Another fantastic episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? How do I do it week after week? Well, I don't do it with advertiser supported money. I tell you how I do it. I do it with my book. If you'd like to support this show, if you'd like to support me, go check out my new book, A Paper Orchestra. It asks the question, what if it's the smallest, almost forgotten moments that are the ones that shape us most? Laura Sanoma says, good storytelling also leads us to ourselves, our memories, our beliefs, personal and powerful. I loved The Journey, and Max Munic, who was on my show says, as the father of daughters, I found Michael's understanding of parenting and the human condition to be spot on. This book is a fantastic read. Go check it out for yourself. Go to michael jamin.com/book. Thank you all and stay tuned. More. Great stuff coming next week.

    38m | Feb 21, 2024
  • Ep 120 - Actress Paula Marshall

    On this week's episode, I have actress Paula Marshall (Euphoria, Walker, Gary Unmarried, and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also talk about how she dealt with being a new mom and working on a sitcom at the same time. There is so much more so make sure you tune in.

    Show Notes

    Paula Marshall on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thepaulamarshall/?hl=en

    Paula Marshall IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005191/

    Paula Marshall on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Marshall

    A Paper Orchestra on Website - https://michaeljamin.com/book

    A Paper Orchestra on Audible - https://www.audible.com/ep/creator?source_code=PDTGBPD060314004R&irclickid=wsY0cWRTYxyPWQ32v63t0WpwUkHzByXJyROHz00&irgwc=1

    A Paper Orchestra on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Audible-A-Paper-Orchestra/dp/B0CS5129X1/ref=sr_1_4?crid=19R6SSAJRS6TU&keywords=a+paper+orchestra&qid=1707342963&sprefix=a+paper+orchestra%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-4

    A Paper Orchestra on Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203928260-a-paper-orchestra

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

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

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

    Join My Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Paula Marshall:

    But a lot of parents, they go to jobs and then they come home or they don't work at all, and then it's just mom 100% and they're probably exhausted and happy. Some of my friends, I feel like they're like, I'm so glad. Finally I get to whatever. And either they're retiring and they get to go travel and like, no, I'm an actor. I'm looking for a gig, whatever. I don't think actors ever truly retire. I think we don't. I don't.

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about conversations and writing, art and creativity. Today's episode is brought to you by my debut collection of True Stories, a paper orchestra available in print, ebook and audiobook to purchase. And to support me on this podcast, please visit michael jamin.com/book and now on with the show.

    Welcome everyone. My next guest is actress Paula Marshall. She has been, I worked with her years ago on a show called Out of Practice, I think it was like 2005. But Paul, before I let you get a word in edgewise, I got to tell everyone, your credits are crazy long, so your intro may take a long time. So I'm going to just give you some of the highlights to remind you of your incredible body of work here. Really these are just the highlights. She works a ton. So well, let's see. I guess we could start with One Life To Live. That might've been your first one. Grapevine Life goes on. Wonder Years Seinfeld. I heard of that one. Perry Mason diagnosis. Murder Wild Oats. I'm skipping here. Nash Bridges. You did a couple Chicago Suns Spin. City Cupid Snoops Sports Night, the Weber Show. It doesn't end.

    Just shoot Me, which I worked on. I didn't even know you were on that. Maybe I wasn't there. Hitting Hills and Out of Practice, which we did together. Veronica Mars, nip Tuck, shark ca Fornication. You did a bunch of Gary Unmarried House friends with Benefits, the exes CSI, the Mentalist, two and a Half Men Murder in the First Major Crimes. What else have we got here? Goer Gibbons, I dunno what that is. You have to tell me what that is. And then Modern Family Euphoria. You did a bunch of them. Walker. Paula, I'm exhausted and I'm going to steal your joke here. You can because I'm going to say you're Paula Marshall, but you may know me as Carla Gina. That's what used to tell me Carla

    Paula Marshall:

    And I know Carla,

    Michael Jamin:

    But know

    Paula Marshall:

    She's like the younger version of me. Slightly shorter,

    Michael Jamin:

    Bigger, bigger. Boop. But you have done so much. I'm going to jump, I'm going to jump into the hardest part. I'm wondering if this is the hardest part for you is being a guest star on a show because you have to jump in with the cast, you have to know the rules and everything. Is that harder?

    Paula Marshall:

    Yes, a hundred percent. It's harder when I guest star on any shows, if I haven't seen the show, I watch three or four on YouTube just so I know who's who and the vibe and the energy. When I guest star on Modern Family I their last season and some could say I canceled the show by being there. I've been called a show killer

    Michael Jamin:

    Before. I remember You don't let Right.

    Paula Marshall:

    I still have not let that go. I like to say I've just worked on so many different shows at its peak and then it died anyway. It's hard because they're all in a flow and depending on the other actors, how cool they are to kind of throw the ball at you.

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you have to identify who's the alpha dog on set? Is that what your plan is? It's

    Paula Marshall:

    Pretty clear right away. Really? Yeah. I mean besides whoever's first on the call sheet, I remember one of the producers of Snoop's, David Kelly's first big bomb. That was me.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was a sure thing what happened?

    Paula Marshall:

    You know what? I'm not sure. Well, when it was supposed to be a comedy quickly turned into a drama, it was not great. But as one of the producers of Snoop said, you don't fuck with the first person on the call sheet. You don't fuck with him. And so you identify that person and depending, it's funny because I've worked with so many great people and so many assholes too. Like David Deney. Damn, is he cool? He's so nice. When I worked on fornication with him, he set a tone for just the set, the crew, the actors, this freedom just to try things. And I remember during my, it was like the first day naked throwing up,

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, were you nervous? Why were you throwing up?

    Paula Marshall:

    Hello? Of course. But I

    Michael Jamin:

    Remember you're never nervous, Paul, let me tell you who you were. I'm totally nervous. No, you're the most self-assured person probably I've ever worked with. You're very confident.

    Paula Marshall:

    Thank you. I'm acting

    Michael Jamin:

    Acting.

    Paula Marshall:

    But California occasion, it was my first day onset naked, fake fucking. And I remember standing there, it was yesterday, and either tweaking you and touching you up. And I say to everyone, what's amazing, what I'll do for $2,900 when a strike is pending? It was the writer's strike way back in the day. And I remember getting this part on fornication and I'm like to all the girls in the audition room, when we used to have auditions in rooms with other people, I looked around, I'm like, we're not going to really have to be naked. We're not those type of actresses. And they're like, no, no, no. And I'm like standing there. Yeah, yeah. I was naked.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was that your first time in a show being naked? I mean

    Paula Marshall:

    Topless

    Michael Jamin:

    Show

    Paula Marshall:

    On a show?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Because you were in a model, I'm sure as a model, you're doing wardrobe changes all the time.

    Paula Marshall:

    I used to model. I was naked a few things back in the day.

    Michael Jamin:

    So were you really nervous about it? I mean, I imagine you would be, but

    Paula Marshall:

    Standing there naked is one thing. You just kind of have to dive in the pool, in the cold, cold pool and let it go because you got to put on the confident jacket, I guess I obviously wore a lot around you, but I mean it's more uncomfortable, the fake sex scenes, it's more technical and awkward. It's just but nervous. I dunno. Yeah, you're excited. But I'm also excited when I walk on stage on a sitcom before, if I'm not already in the set, when they start rolling, I'm backstage. How's my hair? Shit, how am I doing? Okay? I get hyped up until you do it once and people laugh and you're like, oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Are you worried about going up on your lines at all? Is that at all you're thinking about?

    Paula Marshall:

    Yes, especially now. Oh shit, my memory. It's just that prevagen, I'm going to look it up later, but yeah, you do. But if you in a sitcom situation, we run it, we rehearse it all week. Still

    Michael Jamin:

    The lines are changing all week. That's all I

    Paula Marshall:

    Know. But they're changing all week. But then you run it and you drill it on TV shows like euphoria or whatever. Yeah, you run it. But then again, they don't really change the lines at all. But yeah, you were a little bit, but then you got a great script supervisor that you're like, I'm up. And then they say it and then you go back and you do it. But yeah, always, I'm always really nervous until maybe the second take

    Michael Jamin:

    Of any, the hardest thing it seems to me is just like, okay, you're naked and you have to forget that there's all these people there. You have

    Paula Marshall:

    To

    Michael Jamin:

    Completely, it's almost like you're crazy to have to be able to forget that,

    Paula Marshall:

    Michael, when you paid $2,900.

    That's right. I was shocked. That's all you get for being naked. Yeah, you do. You are nervous. But I don't know. I was 40 then, so I looked pretty good naked, although I only had four days notice. Back then we didn't have ozempic, so I was like, okay, I can't, no salt, no bread. And I remember in that shot that the camera guy, they decided in the moment, Hey, can you walk over to David? And then bent over, he's on the bed and then kiss him. I'm like, well, that depends. What's your lens there? You got there? And I'm like, how wide is your lens? And he looked at me and I'm like, I'm a photographer. I like taking pictures. So I know. And I'm like, so I'm going to bend over with my white ass and I had four days notice on this and my ass is just going to be in the pretty much. And you're like, okay, I could do it. But you hope for body makeup. I don't know. Don't you think I had any, I should have demanded body

    Michael Jamin:

    Makeup. And this was probably even before there were, what do they call them now? Intimacy

    Paula Marshall:

    Coordinators?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Right.

    Paula Marshall:

    I mean, here's the thing. I guess it helps when you're not a loud mouth person like me. And even then it's hard to go, Hey dude, keep your tongue in your mouth. You don't want it in your mouth. Sometimes you're like, damn. He's a great kisser. Jason Bateman, I enjoyed the tongue in my mouth. So

    Michael Jamin:

    It kind of depends

    Paula Marshall:

    On who's sticking in the tongue. But the intimacy coordinator, I think it's just so people know what's going to kind of happen and get it. But California case, no, we didn't have that. This movie I was naked on with Peter Weller called The New Age. No, I remember in the middle of the scene, I'm on the bed and he's looking down at me and during one take he decides to suck on my nipple. Shocking. I turned bright red, which is what I do when I get nervous. And I'm like, dude, what are you doing? He goes, I dunno, I just thought it'd be fun. I'm like, okay. And I don't think they used it, but if there was an intimacy coordinator back then, I probably would've known.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So it's

    Paula Marshall:

    Good I guess. But it's corny and you feel silly.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God, I'm glad you mentioned the photography thing. That was one of my memories from working together and out of practice. This was before people had camera phones and cell phones and you carried a camera everywhere. And I remember thinking, you're the star of a sitcom. You're the star. I mean, you're an artist doing her craft, and yet it's still not enough that you wanted to work on something. You wanted to do something else as well.

    Paula Marshall:

    Maybe it's my parents growing up, they always had these really cool black and white pictures of them. And I used to look at them and go, wow, that was your life then. And it was hard to even imagine when they were so young. And so it's like photos are life to me. And I guess I don't want to forget the moments of my life that are important. And so I always would bring a camera with me on set, on location more than sitcom stages aren't as conducive to really cool shots. But yeah, I like capturing life.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you're still doing it on 35

    Paula Marshall:

    Millimeter? I still do it, although I did give in and I have a digital now because it's easier. It's easier. Develop film.

    Michael Jamin:

    Many. You took my headshot from me and for many years I way too long. I used that as my headshot.

    Paula Marshall:

    Yeah, it was good. I remember

    Michael Jamin:

    It was great. And I wore Danny's shirt, you go, yeah, put this on. You look terrible. Whatever I was wearing, still

    Paula Marshall:

    Do that. People still come over my friends and I'm like, you need a headshot. Put Danny's shirt on. He has some nice shirts.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so funny.

    Paula Marshall:

    Yeah, I do. I still like taking pictures.

    Michael Jamin:

    I got to share another memory I had from out of practice, which I cherish this one. So it was right before it was show night for some reason. I don't know why. I had to run up pages to the cast. And maybe you were in the green room or you were somewhere upstairs. I don't know what the hell dressing. I don't know what was going on. I knock on the door and all of you we're standing in a circle holding hands. And Henry goes, Michael, you're just in inside. Come on in. And then I go in time for what? And then he tapped. This blew my, I love this memory. And you guys were just like, I don't know what you would call it, but you were invoking a good show to be supportive of each other and to be brave and true. And I was like, I can't believe I felt so honored that I was included in, I was like, are you serious,

    Paula Marshall:

    Henry? I actually forgot that memory and thank you for reminding me of it. Henry's just, he's something special.

    Michael Jamin:

    He is.

    Paula Marshall:

    I know there's rumors. Oh, who's the nicest guy in Hollywood? Henry Winkler. It's because it is, is I could text him right now and he would literally text me. Within eight minutes he will text me back. Oh, Paula, it's been so, he's just a dear. And so he is, again, back to the, when you go on set and who creates that energy? Although Chris Gorham, I think was the first on the call sheet, not Henry Winkler, but Henry was our dad. I mean, he was such a pro and yeah, he just created this lovely energy there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Oh wow. So that's not common then for other shows that you've worked on. People don't do that. That's not a theater thing. It seems like a theater thing

    Paula Marshall:

    You would think. I think, I don't know, maybe it was a happy days thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why don't you start it on your next show? Why don't you start doing

    Paula Marshall:

    It? I think I might. I'm going to make it now.

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought it was so interesting. I was like, wow. But it's getting back to that first point, even the first, the first person on the call sheet technically is the head cheese. But they might not be the most difficult by far at all. I mean, you don't know who's the boss. That's true, right?

    Paula Marshall:

    I mean sometimes the and character is an asshole. I mean, I think mostly people when they don't really want to be there, they kind of rebel. I've always wanted to be on a sitcom. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Remember. Did that change? Oh, go ahead, please.

    Paula Marshall:

    I just remember, I believe my first sitcom was Seinfeld. I may have done a guest spot on some other one that maybe never aired or I can't remember. Or maybe I just think it's cooler to say my first sitcom was Seinfeld. I'm not sure. But that show, I don't know. There's a magic. But they didn't do any of that either. But they kind of really invited me in and I dunno, I'm just thinking,

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you prefer to do sitcoms, multi-camera sitcoms? Yes. Yes. Because the audience.

    Paula Marshall:

    Because the audience, because it's a high, I've never gotten anywhere else in my life. Not that I need to be high, but damn. When you go out and you make people laugh with a look or a line or a physical movement, I mean it's magic. And working with the actor, knowing more like theater, which by the way, I've never done

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, why don't you do theater then?

    Paula Marshall:

    I don't know. I don't know. I'll call my agent another thing I'll write down.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, do that.

    Paula Marshall:

    But probably only if it's a comedy. But it's that magic that you don't have to go and do another take and then they turn around and then you got a close up again. I mean, it's boring. Like our television, there's no magic in it

    Michael Jamin:

    Ever.

    Paula Marshall:

    Except on euphoria. I have to say there's magic there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why do you say that?

    Paula Marshall:

    Because the writing directing the story level of, I mean, when Marsha is my character, when Marsha actually had a couple things to say. I remember I called or I spoke with Sam Levinson and I was like, dude, it's me, right? You wrote an eight page monologue almost for Marsha to say. And he goes, yeah, I can't wait to see it. And I'm like, oh my God. I was so nervous. I studied for three weeks. There was no rewrites. And then it's me and Jacob all Lorde on set. And we get there and there's no rush, there's no limitation. There's just like, what do you want to do? And he's like, I kind of feel like you're doing this and then you're doing the cookies and a lot of movement. But we did it until it felt good, and then we knew it, and there was a magic there. No one's laughing at me. But there's something special about that show. I mean, I've heard rumors like, oh, and on set. And I'm like, ah, not for me. Not for me at all. Not for you. No, it's amazing.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you do though? When you're on set and you have an idea how you want to play or speech, how you want to deliver speech, and your scene partner is just on doing something completely fucking different. How do you handle that?

    Paula Marshall:

    If you know, don't have a say, meaning you're a guest, darn. You do what they tell you to. How high do you want me to jump? That's what you do. But if you're working together and you're equal parties, you probably have run it before. But I would say if they're not doing something that I want, then I use it and I am frustrated in the scene, or I just use whatever they're giving me because that's all I got. And I try to put that into my character.

    Michael Jamin:

    How much training have you had though? That's very actor speak.

    Paula Marshall:

    It really did sound a little actory, and I

    Michael Jamin:

    Apologize for that. No, it's good. I like it.

    Paula Marshall:

    I mean, I don't know. I lived in New York City and I took acting class with this guy named Tony Aon and Jennifer Aniston was in my class and Oh wow.

    Just a bunch of young people, but not all that much. Not all that much. I think the comedy thing, I didn't even know I was funny with Seinfeld, the guest stars aren't usually funny in sitcoms. The lead, the main characters, the stars of the show are funny guest stars just kind of throw the ball and you know what I mean? But something happened after I was on Seinfeld and then I read for, I guess it was Wild Oats, which was with Paul Rudd and Jan Marie hpp. And Tim Conlin. It was a sitcom on Fox. It was the same year that another show called Friends was coming out. And I remember them. Someone was interviewing us saying, oh, there's another show that NBC is doing with a group of friends. It's kind of like yours. And we're all friends. What's that cut to?

    And ours was canceled after one season, but I think the first time I was like, oh shit, I can do this. I know how to deliver a joke. But I never learned that again. It just happened one year in pilot season just kind of happened. And my agents were like, oh, Paul is funny. Okay. And then one time I remember I read for a pilot, after you do so many comedies, then people go, well, she's a comedic actress, she can't do drama. And then you're like, the fuck. Of course I could do drama. I remember one time during this callback, no original, just the first audition. And I had heard the casting director doesn't think or only thinks you're funny, doesn't think you're as good. Dramatic. Wow.

    Michael Jamin:

    Obviously if you could do comedy, you could do drama.

    Paula Marshall:

    No, you would think it's the other way around. It never works. It is really hard to do

    Michael Jamin:

    Comedy.

    Paula Marshall:

    But literally, I was like, well, I'm so angry that she thinks I can't. Finally, they couldn't find this girl, the character for the pilot. And then they finally, okay, Paula, we'll see her. So I get in there, and it was Davis Guggenheim was the director. I love Davis. After I read, I think it was three scenes. And during the last scene, I broke down and I was in tears over something and I look up with, you couldn't have placed the tear better. And I look up and I ended the scene and Davis goes, my god, Paula Marshall, you are one fine actress. And I do this. I look at the casting drifter and I go, you see, I'm not just funny. And I grabbed my bag and I walked out and I go, well, I just fucked myself for any future director again. There was something that came over me and I was like, I need you to know that I am not just one thing or the other. And then Davis probably three weeks later, texts me, I've been fighting every day for you. And I'm like, what are you talking about when you get these weird texts from people? I'm like, did I get the part? I got the part and they didn't want to see me.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. I mean, obviously you're a working actor, you work a lot. You're successful, and yet you still feel like you're placed in this box and you have to prove yourself and get out of it.

    Paula Marshall:

    But there's something I really love about, there's part of me that I want to read, and I want everyone to look at that tape and go, fuck, I wish we could hire her. I wish there weren't the limitations and we didn't have to pick Carla at you now or whatever. I wish we could pick Paula. I want them to go, fuck man. She was really good. I want to stick in their brain. I always would cancel auditions if I wasn't ready for it. If I really knew I wasn't going to kill it, I wouldn't go, or I won't put myself on tape. I don't have enough time to prepare for it because that's the last thing they see of you.

    Michael Jamin:

    I

    Paula Marshall:

    Want it to be the best thing they see of me. So I only want to leave them with that because they're not going to remember that other stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a good point though. Are you doing a lot of self tape now? Is there anything in person?

    Paula Marshall:

    I have not had any auditions in person yet. Wow. Her actress ever Carradine. I think she's had her third one, and she always posts about it. She's so cute. And I think she booked one. No, I have a room now in my house. It's the tape room. And I've got a nice beauty light and I've got the tripod again. It's kind of easy for me because I have photography stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    But who are you acting again or does Danny help you out?

    Paula Marshall:

    Well, Danny will sometimes read with me. My daughter would read with me. And sometimes when I'm all by myself, I read with myself. I will have a tape of the other voice, which is, or sometimes I leave space and then I put the audio in later. I mean, it's crazy the stuff that happens during Covid. We've got very creative over here.

    Michael Jamin:

    But in some ways though, because this sometimes a casting director is like, yeah, yeah, there couldn't be more wooden. And so in some ways it's got to be easier for you, right?

    Paula Marshall:

    Yes and no. Yes, because I get to pick the take I want,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Paula Marshall:

    Two, because two, I didn't even say one a b, I don't get nervous, so there's no nerves to hold me back or Oh man, I should have done it. Or I mess up. I just do another take. But then there's also, there's something about going in and being vulnerable in front of all those people and showing them what you can do. And especially in a comedy, I, it was like a zoom callback for a comedy. And I live in the hills and maybe it was the wifi or that slight timing was off just enough or the reader wasn't funny and I'm trying to connect with this dot. It was hard. There was no magic in it and you couldn't feel the other person. And so I think in a way, it's good in a way. It's really not good. So I'm willing to do whatever to get anything because I pay for college.

    Michael Jamin:

    But also, there's also the fact the to drive across town, I mean, that's got to get old, right? Driving everywhere.

    Paula Marshall:

    But when you're an actor, everything stops. You get a script, everything stops. You're not making dinner, you're not going out, you're not watching that movie or the show. You drop everything and then you focus on it. And hopefully, thankfully, because of the strike and the new negotiations that they got for us, I think we don't have to do a self tape over the weekend. We need to have enough time to actually prepare for it, which is amazing. Most of the time. Gary unmarried, I think I got the audition at eight o'clock in the morning. It was to meet producers at 11 o'clock the next day. And you're like, ah, okay, here I go. It's really hard to put all that energy and to them something great. And I never understand why you're casting people or producers. Don't give us more time because we want to give you something great. We don't want to go in there and read. I don't. I want to perform for you. And it's hard to do when I don't have enough time to do it. I also have a life, so I have other things, but you kind of do. You really drop it. You drop everything for an audition.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's interesting though. I want to get touched on something you said. You said it's hard to be vulnerable on camera, but then you said comedy, and do you feel like it's harder to be vulnerable? Because when I think of vulnerable, I think drama, not comedy.

    Paula Marshall:

    Yes. But there's nothing funnier. I remember my husband in many situations will say, I'll be upset or crying and I'll say something really funny, but humor comes out of the reality, like your honest to goodness, open soul, like your heart. The funniest stuff I think comes out of me when I'm in a vulnerable position, if I'm angry, if I'm sad when I'm just feeling whatever. So I don't know. I think in many sitcoms I've cried. And how do you

    Michael Jamin:

    Get past that though? How do you get past that vulnerability thing? I mean, are you a hundred percent past it or is there any reservations?

    Paula Marshall:

    Ask that again. Sorry.

    Michael Jamin:

    Very clear saying, well, when you're vulnerable on camera or trying to be, can you go, I don't know. Is there a limit to your vulnerability, do you think on camera or are you willing to go there all the time? As much, as far as you want?

    Paula Marshall:

    I guess so most of the time it depends on how much tears you have. And I usually, if the writing is good, and that's the big if this thing that I ended up booking with Davis Guggenheim, it was with John Corbett, and I had to cry and it was maybe like a steady cam up the stairs and going, and I break down and I crumbled to my knees, and I swear to God, I did it. Maybe 17 takes. And then we come around and turn around on him and I end up crying again. And John, after we, they yelled cut, he goes, Paula, what are you doing? Why are you crying again? I go, I don't know. The words are making me cry. I'm just tapped in doing it. They wipe it away. But you got to be careful because I'm vain and you got to look like you're not crying, and I'm really crying.

    So I get red and my eyes get bloodshot. You look different and the snot and you got to fix the whatever, makeup. But no, but when it's great, when the writing is great, of course, usually you don't have to do it. 17 takes, it was just had a lot to do with the steady cam and whatever. But usually you do it in three takes and you nail it and it's good, and they're like, wow, that was great. Let's move on. So you don't really have to in a movie, if you nail it, you nail it and they move on.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you do though when you're in it and you feel like you're slipping out of it?

    Paula Marshall:

    Okay, so that when I drink this, so

    I have at least one of those before every tape night, I've always drink a Coke. If I can't, the writing isn't talking to me. If I can't relate to it, I do that substitute thing. If I have to cry, and this is really not making me cry, the subject and the words I substitute for something else that makes me cry. I'm a freakishly emotional person. I cry a lot. I'm very sensitive. You wouldn't really think that because kind of like Danny calls me bottom line, Marshall, and I'm very tough and whatever and no nonsense. And I say it like it is, and I will always tell you if you look fat in that dress, I like to be honest, but I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    But is there a moment where you feel like you're okay? You're on, you're giving a speech, you're in a scene, and then you're like, oh, I'm acting now.

    Paula Marshall:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, every once in a while, I mean, I'll finish the scene. I don't want to stop myself. They might like it and for whatever reason, but I'll always say, can I have another one? Can I please have another one? Or Oh my gosh, I really like the second take. Just can you make a note of that, that the second take was much better. They know it's obvious when you see someone telling the truth, it's obvious which one is better, but you can't just tell the truth once and then move on because you don't know. Maybe there was a sound issue on that take. No. So it's tricky. Every once in a while you think you have it. The crappy thing is when they come around to you or they start on you and then you finally figure something out. I remember Bette Midler, we were doing the scene and they were on us first.

    It was a movie, I guess Danny and I did the scene together and it was bet opposite on a table. And they go to her, they turn the camera on her, and then she goes, oh, I just figured it out. We're like, no, the opposite. We did her first. Forgive me. We did her first and then they came on us. And then she goes, oh, I just figured out the scene. Can I do it again? And Carl Reiner's like, no, we got to move. No, we're out of here. So sometimes it takes a while to figure it all out, and she just thought she didn't nail it. It's Bette Midler. She nails every take all the time

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Today's episode is brought to you by my new book, A Paper Orchestra, A collection of True Stories. John Mayer says, it's fantastic. It's multi timal. It runs all levels of the pyramid at the same time. His knockout punches are stinging, sincerity, and Kirks Review says, those who appreciate the power of simple stories to tell us about human nature or who are bewitched by a storyteller who has mastered his craft, will find a delightful collection of vignettes, a lovely anthology that strikes a perfect balance between humor and poignancy. So my podcast is not advertiser supported. I'm not running ads here. So if you'd like to support me or the podcast, check out my book, go get an ebook or a paperback, or if you really want to treat yourself, check out the audio book. Go to michael jamin.com/book. And now back to our show.

    Do you have these conversations with them? Do you have conversations with actors with more experience and I don't know, are you still trying to learn from them?

    Paula Marshall:

    I just pay attention to what they're doing. I don't think I pick their brains like that, but I just watch them and I watch and I see

    Michael Jamin:

    What are you looking for?

    Paula Marshall:

    Well, sometimes technically how they do it. I remember my first movie, Hellraiser three, I learned a lot about continuity,

    Which is something they don't really teach in acting class. If I'm going to play my drink up and sip it, I have to do that every single time. If I'm going to eat in the scene, I got to do it every single time, and I have to figure that out. And you have to really, if you're really going to eat, you got to really eat. Not teeny little bites, make your choice. But I learned things from different people. I remember Robert Duvall, I played his daughter in a movie and he would act and he kept going until his body knew it was over. And I remember the director had yelled cut at one point and he got really mad. He goes, I wasn't done, but he had finished talking. And he goes, I'm still acting here. It's like, I'm still walking here. But it was like, I'm still acting.

    I'm still doing, there's still so much more there. I observe and I see how they deal with issues and problems in their focus. ISHKA Harte guest star on that show of hers, and we auditioned a lot in the beginning. We came up at the same time and just everything was so serious to her. She really so passionate about her show and she threw away nothing. It was really kind of impressive after a hundred seasons now that she cared so much because some people after four Seasons, they're like ready to go. They're like, I got a movie down, I'm ready to go. But there's certain people like Maka who from day one till again, I think it's 25 seasons or 24 or something crazy. I remember when I worked with her and I hadn't seen her in 15 years or something, I just am like, God, how rich is she? And so instead I was like, tacky. I'm not going to say that. So again, I walk up to her and it was emotional that we hadn't seen each other in so long. I hugged her and I said, how big is your house? She goes, I can't complain.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm like,

    Paula Marshall:

    But she's very passionate and so many actors are, and then there's some who are not and who are ready to go

    Michael Jamin:

    And who are they? Not names, but why are they there? Are they just rock stars who became actors? You don't know. It just falls into a job like that.

    Paula Marshall:

    There was one person and he just seemed really angry all the time. I don't think he was just a happy person. If you don't like doing this, I'm not sure why you're doing it. I don't know. There's just something inside you. I mean, this is the greatest thing ever to be paid to do what you love. And again, when my daughter said she wanted to be an actress, an actor, sorry, I was so happy. I was like, that's where I found joy in my life. I grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and I didn't know anybody, and I just watched the Mary Tyler Moore show, and I went, yep, that's what I want.

    How do I do that? I had no idea, none. And to find joy there. So when a person is coming to set and they're angry, it could be, they don't like the words actors are very particular about. If your dialogue is not great, it's really hard. It's so much easier when you have great dialogue and the scene makes sense and the relationships you buy them. It's so easy to do it. It's effortless and it's so real and it's so honest. And then when you've got this other stuff and you have to say the name of the person to remember that it's very cookie cutter network television, which you would think at this point would look at streaming and go, yeah, there's always something right over there because the quality is just beyond Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    How did you figure it out then? Okay, you're in Maryland. How did you figure out you stopped in New York first. What was that about?

    Paula Marshall:

    Did I moved to New York? I modeled in Georgetown as a local model there, doing little ads for Montgomery reward. And I didn't really want to go to college. My parents didn't make me go to college. I think I had two grand in my pocket from doing things here and there. I started doing commercials locally. And this woman by the name of Jay Sumner, who was the booker at this modeling agency called Panache, she said, we were at Champions. It was a bar called Champions. And though how I was there drinking at the bar, I don't know, I think I was 18. She said, Paula, you're so much more interesting in person than you are in a piece of paper, meaning I'm pretty, I'm good enough on paper, but you're so much more interesting in real life. And she goes, I think you should be an actress.

    And I'm like, okay, really? And I'm like, well, I always used to watch Mary Taylor Moore and all of that, but I'm from Maryland, how am I going to do? And she goes, I know somebody. I know someone in New York named Dian Littlefield, who's a manager, and I can set you up with a meeting. I'm like, what? So I ended up moving to New York City. Modeling was my waitressing job. I got a lot of money. It didn't take a lot of time. It was really easy. I love photography. So there was that connection that I wasn't just sitting there like an idiot with bathing suits or lingerie or junior wardrobe or whatever. So that was kind of my waitressing job to allow me to pay for rent and acting classes. And then I was like, you know what? I think I really like it. It's true. Just a piece of paper. And it's funny, I love taking pictures. I love stopping life, but there was just, I guess more to me than just the piece of paper. So I guess that's kind of how it happened.

    Michael Jamin:

    How did LA happen then?

    Paula Marshall:

    So I would audition test for a lot of things. I would fly to LA for different pilot projects. I would read in New York, and then most of the things were shooting in la, not New York at all back then. So I would fly to LA and I think it was just one of my agents said, look, Paul, if you really want to do this, you got to live in la,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Paula Marshall:

    I was like, ah, okay. So I moved to LA and yeah, and I was young and 20, I think I was 25 when I moved here, kind of old to kind of start, but I looked really young. And when you read for enough things and enough people are interested, the head of my agency said to me after a pilot, I, or I tested for something and I didn't get it. And he told me back when we didn't have computers, we had to go pick up our scripts and there would be a box outside the script, their office, after hours, he would look through and go, these are my scripts. In the middle envelopes, it says Paula Marshall on it. Anyway, I was kind of sad and I'm like, I don't know. I'm not booking anything. And he goes, but you're testing a lot. You're very close. And I'm like, what does it take? What am I lacking? What am I missing that I'm not booking the thing? He goes, I believe in you and you need to keep doing this. And then I did. I slowly would start booking things.

    Michael Jamin:

    What were you lacking? Do you know?

    Paula Marshall:

    Maybe it was the confidence, maybe I was really nervous. I remember one time, I think it was during the Flash, it was a pilot called The Flash with John Wesley ship, and Amanda pays Amanda Paynes. Anyway, ended up booking it. But I remember in the audition room, I think it was at NBC or I don't know, one of the big three, the scene, I put my hand on my knee and I was shaking so much from being nervous that I was like, oh, stop doing that. I don't want them to know. I'm nervous because they want everyone to be fearless and confident.

    And I get that because it takes a lot to go stand in front of a bunch of people and say stuff over and over, or stand there and be naked and do it over and over. There's got to be part of you that's kind of cocky and confident, and not that you think that you could do that over and over with someone else's words. I mean, it's kind of crazy that I do this, but I don't know what tipped me over the scale. I never gave up. And I kept doing it and trying to figure it out and asking and asking the casting directors, and they always say nice things. They never say, well, you messed this thing. No, it's just there's a magic. If I don't book something now, I don't take it personally. Someone else just had a little bit more magic that day, and they tapped into the character and the writer saw that person that they wrote down and spent so many hours writing that Blonde Girl or Carla Gino just got it better than I did. Okay. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Know. To me, one of the hardest parts of acting, aside from the acting part is the fact that you really don't, don't have agency over your, you have to wait often. You have to wait. So what do you do in that time?

    Paula Marshall:

    Well, you find hobbies. I learned very early on to save money. You live under your means. So even if you get a gig and you're the lead in a show, you're making a lot of money per week. And like me, most of the shows, they did not go more than a season. So you have to take that and live under your means, and you can't spend money and buy fancy things. I invested my money in my house, I think maybe three or four houses now. I try to invest my money and I fill my days with other things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you stress about it at all or no?

    Paula Marshall:

    Yeah. Yeah. I think in the beginning, early on I was very busy all the time. There wasn't a lull. And when you do have a job on, if you're a series regular on a show, you love your weekends, you love your time off. If you're working crazy hours sitcom's, not crazy hours, you know that those are

    Michael Jamin:

    Great for writers.

    Paula Marshall:

    I mean, yes, that's true, but if you're a director, Jimmy Burroughs would be like, I got a tea time at three 30. We got to get out of here. It's a dream. And maybe that's why I love the sitcom so much, because you got to to act and have a real life. When I had my daughter, I remember going, how would I be a mom and work on a single camera show? I would never see the kid. So when I was pregnant or when I read for Out of practice, I had just had my daughter a week before I went in to test for the show over at CBS. There was a script on my doorstep when I brought her up on the baby thing. And I'm like, I'm a mom and oh, right, I'm an actress and I'm 20 pounds overweight. And oh, I thought I was going to push the, I'm not going to work for a year button.

    That was the plan. Then I saw the script and I read it and I'm like, oh man, it's a sitcom. I'm not going to work very many hours. I'm going to work three weeks on one week off. I'm like, maybe I'll just do it. Maybe I'll just read for it and we'll see. And I really liked it. I really liked the character. And then when I got it, I was like, oh shit, I don't even have a nanny. How do I do this? So Danny went with me tape night. He was my nanny. I remember them going home because the baby, they were cool. Once we got picked up, they allowed me to have a little trailer outside for my nanny, Mariella and Maya, and I was breastfeeding at the time. She was just born. And it allowed me to do that. And I remember Henry, Henry Winkler still was like, how's Maya? And it was just a great thing. I had my baby. You couldn't ask for a better job for a mom. I was living my dream and I was having a baby when I was 40 years old.

    Sitcom is the greatest thing in the world, and I'm still trying to get back on one. There's just not that many of them now. It's really sad. Multicam, I've written like three of them. Speaking of writing. Yeah, go on. The writer. So I remember, I think it was when the pilot that I did with John Corbett, when I cried 17 takes in a row, when that didn't get picked up, I remember I was dropping off my daughter at elementary school and Dave Grohl, yes, that Dave Grohl sees me. And I had just found out that the pilot wasn't picked up. It's called Murder in the First, no, sorry, different thing called something different. That was another show that I did. But anyway, so Dave Girl's like Paula Marshall, what's up? You look sad. And I'm like, oh, another pilot wasn't picked up. It just sucks.

    And he goes, Paula, when either his studio or something, they didn't like the music or whatever, and he goes, you know what? I did put his arm around me. We're walking down that hallway. And he goes, I just did it myself. I got this set up and I just did it myself. And he goes, you should do it yourself. Why don't you write something? And I'm like, yeah, why don't I? And I'm like, well, because one, I'm not a writer, but he goes, who cares? So because of Dave Grohl, that opened the door to getting ideas out, writing something for me. One thing actually, I mean it went kind of far an idea went very far that I ended up producing with Paul Riser and Betsy Thomas wrote it. This was a little bit before, but it's an outlet for me. I'm still not great at Final Draft. I'm still like, oh, how do I get the thing and the thing and the page? I can't even figure it out half the time. So I've written a few sitcoms, mostly from my point of view, because I want the job, because I want

    Michael Jamin:

    To. So you wrote a single camera sitcom and then you showed it to Paul, and then

    Paula Marshall:

    What happened? The Paul and Betsy one, I met Paul's, I believe his name was Alex, but I can't really remember. I met this guy at a wedding and he was like, oh, you're really funny and blah, blah, blah. I'm a big fan. I'm like, oh, that's nice. Thank you very much. And he goes, do you have any ideas? Do you write? And I go, no, I don't write. I go, I have this idea for a show. And he goes, really? Why don't you come pitch it to me? And my partner? I'm like, great. Okay. He goes, Hollywood. I'm like, who's your partner? He goes, who's your partner? And he goes, Paul Riser. I'm like, what? Okay. So I literally got his number and I'm like, oh my God, I'm going to go meet with Paul Riser. I go meet with Paul Riser. I give him my pitch.

    He really liked it. And he goes, I like it. I think let's do it. Let's work together. I was like, you couldn't have given me anything that would've made me happier than the fact that Paul Riser liked an idea of mine. It's almost like when I made Diane Keaton laugh in an audition. I literally called my agents and I was like, I'm good. I could die now. So the Paul Riser thing, it was just my idea. I had a lot of say. So I got to produce, I got to make a lot of decisions. It was probably one of the

    Michael Jamin:

    Greatest. So you shot it then.

    Paula Marshall:

    So we shot it and it wasn't picked up, but

    Michael Jamin:

    You sold it to a studio.

    Paula Marshall:

    All of them wanted it. This is great. Everyone but Fox, wow.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wanted it. That's amazing.

    Paula Marshall:

    It was crazy. But you have Paul Riser, I matter your stuff, but when you have someone like a Paul Riser or someone who is respected in Hollywood and has produced before, of course people are going to give them a shot,

    Michael Jamin:

    But not necessarily. I mean, they must've really liked it. So you wrote it and you started it?

    Paula Marshall:

    I started in it. It was my idea, but I did not write it. Later on, I ended up writing things and pitching, and a lot of people like my stuff, but I really mean should go out a little more aggressively than I do. But I have one right now that we're kind of sending around me and my buddy Jeff Melnick, that he really likes this story. And it was, I won't tell you what it is,

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's not nothing. I mean, that's a big achievement, honestly,

    Paula Marshall:

    For me. Yeah, I don't write. I still am a terrible speller. I have a reading disorder. I've got this thing where reading is hard for me because the font and the text is very contrasty, so I'm a terrible speller. Thank God for spell check, because otherwise,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, so you're working on another piece for yourself as well then? Yes. I'm impressed.

    Paula Marshall:

    I have about three scripts that I've worked on here and there, and I remember I thought, oh, well, this is when I'm going to kill it. I'm going to knock these things out. I'm What happened with Covid? We were so scared. And my daughter was home going to now, whatever, ninth grade or 10th grade. And so it became, that whole time became about helping her find joy. I always said, every day, I'm going to help her get through this. And I really pushed all my stuff back. Any good mom does let everyone eat before you eat. Maybe the way I grew up. So I took care of her and all of that stuff before I focused on me. And then she went to college this year, and you would still think I'm like, Paula, I got to finish these things, which I did. I'm back. I'm back doing it, and I like it. I really like it. There's something about the story, but no one ever taught me to write. So I'm writing from my experience, the years of reading sitcom scripts, I

    Michael Jamin:

    Have

    Paula Marshall:

    'em in my closet. I have almost every single script, especially the ones that I loved, and I go back to it and I refer back. I'm like, how did they do this? Even setting it up, I'll go back and sneak a peek.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's really smart. Was it hard for you when she left the house?

    Paula Marshall:

    Jesus. Oh, here's the thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, make up touching up

    Paula Marshall:

    Makeup break

    Michael Jamin:

    Last looks.

    Paula Marshall:

    I mean, because she's not in Boston,

    She's down the road. It feels like if something bad happened, I could be there. I don't have to get on a plane and only one direct flight. There's one school in Connecticut that she got into, and it was a great school, and there's one direct flight at 6:00 AM I'm like, this is never going to happen. And she chose, I was like, whatever you want, wherever you want to go to college, it's your decision. I mean, I'll tell you what I, but it's all up to you. And she chose and it was something that's not too far away. And it's great. I get to see her and it's worked out. It's a win.

    Michael Jamin:

    What about the emptiness of the house? I'm going to make you cry now. That's what I feel like. The house is so empty. You

    Paula Marshall:

    Know what? And I think though, Michael, I think if she was in anywhere else, I think if I couldn't get to her, and that's a weird thing as a mom, it's about protecting your child. But yeah, I could cry when I think about certain things. Thanks, Michael. It's about protecting them. And I think that the distance, because we are close, she's still in. She's still here. I don't like cooking dinner as much. I'm sorry, Danny, because I don't really have to. The big change is just her presence, her energy, the thought about, well, what's Maya doing? Or what does she got to do? Now it's not, and one of my scripts is, well, I'll tell you one of my scripts is about what happens when your kid goes away to college? What happens to a woman?

    Michael Jamin:

    And go ahead. Can you tell me a little bit?

    Paula Marshall:

    So it started a while ago, just like my fear of who am I? What do I do? I mean, yes, I'm an actress, but then I pulled from that and I'm like, well, if I'm not an actress and I don't have a job and everything has been bombed, there's so many places to go. Okay, you've just got to, it's like reinventing yourself, which almost every mom that I know who doesn't have a job, it's very true. I was so fortunate that I could have my cake, my baby, and also work. But a lot of parents, they go to jobs and then they come home and or they don't work at all. And then it's just mom, 100%. And they're probably exhausted and happy. Some of my friends, I feel like they're like, oh, I'm so glad. Finally I get to whatever. And either they're retiring and they get to go travel, and I'm like, no, I'm an actor. I'm looking for a gig, whatever. I don't think actors ever truly retire. I think we don't do.

    Michael Jamin:

    I guess it depends on how much you love it and how much it must come on. It's got a wear on you. The downs have to be, I don't know.

    Paula Marshall:

    Well, I think probably just like a writer,

    You have to be able to fill your day when you're not going to be working and making money again. It's why it's smart to save your money and invest it and not buy that fricking mansion. If you got that check. Remember one time I went to the bank and I was depositing, it was before they had the picture phone deposits, a really big check. And it was the biggest check I think I've ever gotten. The first time I got that kind of money on a show and the teller, and again, I looked very young, the teller who didn't look much older than me and took the check,

    And he looked at the check and he looked at me and he goes, what do you do? What do you do? And I laughed. I go, I'm an actor. I go, but trust me, this thing, this isn't forever. I know it's not forever. So I have to live my life. It's not forever. Because my goal is I never want to lose my house. I always want to be able to afford things. You hear these horror stories about these, you think you got it, and then it shows canceled, and then you can't do that. I've always been kind of smart when it comes to money, but it's hard. It's really hard. We

    Michael Jamin:

    Spoke a little about this because your daughter's interested in acting and you were, this is before we started taping, and what's your advice for her?

    Paula Marshall:

    My advice is find a way to tap in and find the truth in anything. And if you can't, then again, you substitute. If it's not connecting, you got to figure out a way to connect to it. It's about being truthful In imaginary circumstances, it's really hard to walk into a room and pretend the thing and crying. You just really have to practice going there. I remember one time, and even in my life, life situations, I will take note of them. One time I was in San Francisco drunker than I've ever been before for whatever reason. And I remember the hotel I was, I think it was during Nash Bridges, and I was like, oh, I'm so wasted. I want to remember what I look like when I'm this wasted. So I, my, I guess I did have a cell phone then. So I took my cell phone or my camera, no cell phone, and I recorded myself being drunk.

    And it's like that one actor, he would always, Michael, he's an English guy, Michael, I forget his name. He would be like, you can't overdo the acting, but you're trying not to be drunk. Yes. To try to make sure that the words are coming out. And so that's what I did. I literally was like, this is me talking at my, it was the craziest thing. So in life, take advantage again, back to the advice to my daughter. Live these experiences and remember them. And if you cry, if you're sensitive and emotional, fucking use it. There's plenty of people who can't cry at the drop of a hat. I can cry. You give me something to people always know Paula can cry in a scene and even if I don't connect to it again, I substitute and I find a way. I'm an emotional person and the thing I think I have trouble doing is the angry part.

    I'm not great at being super angry. I don't think I play a lot of those roles like I was doing, I've worked with Steven Weber on his new Chicago Med. I was going to say new show, it is like year nine, but I play his ex-wife. I think it's airing tomorrow as a matter of fact. And there was a scene where I had to come in and I'm yelling at him and I'm like, God, this is so not me. I'm not a yeller. I don't yell even in the middle of a fight. If I'm fighting, I try to get it out and then I cry because I get frustrated because I can't say, I'm not one of those bitchy women wives who are like, I'm just not. Anyway, back to the advice from my daughter, you take life's experiences and you put a little marker on them and you remember them.

    So when you need them, and I didn't even think I was going to have any children because I started so late and as the actress in me, I just never thought, I dunno, mom and my mom material. I don't know. I was like, you know what? I could really learn a lot as an actress by tapping into that love. I remember you'd see my friends who had kids way, way early and I'm like, God, they love these things. What did that feel like? I never knew what that was and so I took that experience and without it, I don't think I would truly ever be able to play a mom as genuinely as I am. Love because man, I love my kid and I didn't think I'd be like a great mom. I am the best mom I am and I love her and I love being a mom and all of it. So I tell my daughter to practice. Practice, learn your lines very easy and don't go in if you're not prepared. That's kind of a big one. You're not really,

    Michael Jamin:

    Just because you said mom was there, that fear the first time you decided to play mom, they say once you play mom like, oh, now she's a mom.

    Paula Marshall:

    Well, it's just an age thing, so that was never a thing for me. I'm going to play whatever I look like for sure. So I don't care. I don't care about that at all.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. Paula, this has been such a great conversation, so thank you so much. You're

    Paula Marshall:

    Welcome. I had so much fun talking with you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, I just love talking the craft with people like you. You're a pro and you're just, I don't know, so much wisdom to share, so thank you so much. You're

    Paula Marshall:

    Welcome.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank you.

    Paula Marshall:

    I'm enjoying your Instagram posts.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, we'll talk about that, but alright, well thank you. That's it. That's you're released, but don't go anywhere now we are going to talk some more here. Alright everyone, thank you so much. What a great conversation. Paul. Should they follow you somewhere? Did they do anything or just watch you on something? What do they want 'em to do?

    Paula Marshall:

    Depends on when you get this.

    Michael Jamin:

    Venmo you the most. What do you want? Venmo? Me

    Paula Marshall:

    Cash is great. I mean, my Instagram is the Paula Marshall. I guess I'm not really great at all that stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you supposed to be though? Do your agents tell you?

    Paula Marshall:

    No, agents don't. But if you have so many followers, then it used to be this thing called a TV Q, which is your TV quotes, how many people know who you are? And that's just, social media has kind of taken that over, really. So people, I think people care how many followers you have. I do not

    Michael Jamin:

    Again, but Tbq is not a thing anymore, you're saying?

    Paula Marshall:

    I don't think it is. Wow. No. I mean maybe they call it something else, but I know an actress friend of mine was early on in the Instagram thing. She's like, yeah, I got to join Instagram. Yuck. I'm like, yeah, the thing. She's like, I was told I have to have it and you got to pitch. I'm not that self-promoting and I'll say things that are inappropriate and crude and get kicked off of Twitter for it, but whatever. That's who I'm,

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank you again. Really, it was such an honor to have you on. Alright everyone, more conversations coming. Thank you so much for tuning in. Until next week, keep creating. You're an actor. Tell your friends about this. You're other actor friends. Alright, everyone, thanks so much.

    Wow. I did it again. Another fantastic episode of What the Hell is Michael Jamon talking about? How do I do it week after week? Well, I don't do it with advertiser supported money. I tell you how I do it. I do it with my book. If you'd like to support the show, if you'd like to support me, go check out my new book, A Paper Orchestra. It asks the question, what if it's the smallest, almost forgotten moments that are the ones that shape us most. Laura Sanoma says, good storytelling also leads us to ourselves, our memories, our beliefs, personal and powerful. I loved the Journey and Max Munic, who was on my show says, as the father of daughters, I found Michael's understanding of parenting and the human condition to be spot on. This book is a fantastic read. Go check it out for yourself. Go to michael jamin.com/book. Thank you all and stay tuned. More. Great stuff coming next week.

    1h 5m | Feb 14, 2024
  • Ep 119 - A Paper Orchestra

    I’ve been a television writer for the past 27 years. While I’ve written on some amazing shows, the work that I’m most proud of is my new book, A Paper Orchestra. It’s the funniest, it’s the deepest, and it’s the one that will hit you hardest in the heart. These are the deeply personal, true stories of an awkward, sensitive man searching for the things that are most important: identity, love, forgiveness, and redemption. It's available now for your reading pleasure.

    Show Notes

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

    A Paper Orchestra on Audible - https://www.audible.com/ep/creator?source_code=PDTGBPD060314004R&irclickid=wsY0cWRTYxyPWQ32v63t0WpwUkHzByXJyROHz00&irgwc=1

    A Paper Orchestra on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Audible-A-Paper-Orchestra/dp/B0CS5129X1/ref=sr_1_4?crid=19R6SSAJRS6TU&keywords=a+paper+orchestra&qid=1707342963&sprefix=a+paper+orchestra%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-4

    A Paper Orchestra on Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203928260-a-paper-orchestra

    A Paper Orchestra on Website - https://michaeljamin.com/book

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

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

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

    Join My Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, but the problem is they don't help you. They design the book cover. You don't get a choice of what the book cover is. Maybe they give you three choices, but that's about it. They decide how they want and they decide what the title of the book is because you sold 'em the rights. So why am I giving away all this power to someone who hasn't earned it? Why am I making them rich? Why am I giving them any creative input at all when the whole point of this was for me to have a hundred percent creative input? You are listening to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about conversations in writing, art, and creativity. Today's episode is brought to you by my debut collection of True Stories, a paper orchestra available in print, ebook and audiobook to purchase and to support me on this podcast, please visit michael jamin.com/book now on with the show. Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to What the Hell Is Michael Jamin talking about the podcast where we explore art, creativity, and writing. Oh, it's a big announcement today, Phil. Phil's back, big day

    Phil Hudson:

    Back. Happy to be back. Thank you for having me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Big day. We're finally building up. This has been a long project. Phil book, my book, A Paper Orchestra Drops or dropped if you're hearing this. It's available, it's, it's already

    Phil Hudson:

    Dropped. It's available yesterday, so go get it now.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's called a paper orchestra and it's a collection of personal essays. If you're a fan of David Sedaris, I think of it as David Sedaris meets Neil Simon. And this has been my passion project for years. I've been working on this and I'm very excited to put it out in the world. As you can get it on print, you can get it on audiobook, you can get it as ebook, however you consume your books, and you can get it everywhere. You can go get it on michael jamin.com. You can find it on Amazon, on Barnes and Noble or Audible for the audio audiobook. Anywhere, anywhere you get Apple. If you want to get the ebook, it's everywhere, Phil. It's everywhere.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's like you got a real publishing deal except you didn't.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I'm doing it myself,

    Phil Hudson:

    And we'll go into that. I want people to understand you chose to self-publish this at this point, but that's not how we started. And we've talked a bit about that when we changed the podcast title and we talked a bit about it. We're talking about your live shows, but I think this is like, let's celebrate Michael Jamin a little bit today because you're always talking to people to build the mountain, to climb. You are now at the top of that mountain, and I imagine you're looking over and saying, oh crap, look, that other peak there I've got to get to now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I already am. Yeah, for sure. Lot of it. And I hope this inspires a lot of you. There's so many people who are like, I want to sell my screenplay, or I want to help me break in, help me, help me. But there's so much that you can do. So unempowering disempowering, you're basically hoping that someone else is going to make your career, buy my script, make my movie. But there's so much that you can do on your own, and you may think it's more work because you're doing it yourself, but it's actually less work because now you don't have to count on someone else to do it for you. You can stop begging, you can stop worrying about all the rejection because when you're selling your scripts or trying to, you're going to get rejected by 99 out of a hundred people. But if you just build it yourself, there's so much you can do. The year we live in, it's so empowering. Everyone has a phone and you can shoot on your phone, you can make a movie. Everyone has a miniature movie studio. There's so much we all can do and on our own. And so I'm just going to share a little bit about the journey that I've been on when I started writing this book.

    So basically this started well over four years ago, maybe five years ago. I told my wife that I was just at a point in my life where I felt a little disheartened by, a little bored by what I was writing in television because when I write for tv, and I'm very grateful to have a job and a career, but I'm always writing what someone is paying me to write. And I'm very rarely writing what I want to write. I'm paying what someone pays me to write or what I can sell, but that's not how I started writing when I was in college and in high school. I just wanted to write what I wanted to write. And so I went for a walk with my wife one day and I was like, I have a really bad idea. I'm thinking of writing a collection of personal essays, which is what David Seras writes. And I love his writing. I've read everything. He's written multiple times. You show him your card, you got a card back there, don't you? Oh yeah. Yeah. He actually, I sent him a piece of fan letter, a fan mail three years ago. But I've read him so much. I knew that he would respond. He talks about, I knew he would respond. It just took him three years to respond, but it was very kind of him.

    So yeah, so I started writing. I wanted to write this project. I wanted to write what I want to write. I wanted to tell stories the way I wanted to tell them without network notes, without a partner, without. I just wanted to see what I can do on my own without having someone telling me what to do or breathing down my back or saying, no, it should be this or that. What can I do? And so I told that to Cynthia and she said, that's a great idea. And I said, but you don't understand even if I sell it, I'm not going to make a lot of money from it and it's going to take me years and years to do. She goes, you got to do it anyway, because if you do, you will find yourself in the process. And I was like, okay.

    And at the time, I was really in a bad place. I was just very upset about stuff mentally. I was in a bad place. I was like, okay, I'll start writing. And that's what I did. I remember I had listened to a lot of David C's audio books, but I had never read him. So I was like, I better read him. And then I bought a bunch of books and I read the first one. I remember I was lying in bed. I was reading the first book and I'm about halfway through and I'm thinking, where's this guy going? What's he doing here? Where's he going with this? And then I got to the end of the piece and the ending was such a wonderful ending. I was like, oh my God. And I almost threw the book across the room. I was, I was so mad.

    I was like, this is going to be so much harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be easy or natural, not easy, but just considering I'm a writer, I didn't think it would be that difficult. So then I just started studying him and I got all his books and I read them multiple times over and over again, and the more I read, I was just trying to look for patterns and trying to learn from him. And that kind of just began, that was the beginning of this journey just to study, study what I wanted to do.

    Phil Hudson:

    You're constantly telling people to study their craft, and you talk about story and story structure. You have a course on that. Most of your content you put on social media is dedicated to helping people understand that your webinars are often about resetting people's expectations about what a writing career looks like and helping them focus on what really matters. And the undertone that I've witnessed over the last two, two and a half years of this process with you of at least starting the podcast and helping with social media and that stuff, it's all based under the reality or the realization that creativity is worth doing just to be creative and that there's value in that process beyond monetary pay or paychecks.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yeah, for sure. When I first started writing these stories, the first two, first several were not very good. I was writing in David Sari's voice because I didn't know how else to do it. The ironic thing, as a TV writer, I'm always writing in someone else's voice. I'm writing in the character's voice or the voice of the show, but this is my voice, and this is the first time I actually had to do that. And so because I'm a good mimic and because I had just read so much of him, I was kind of writing, I was kind of the writer like him, and I thought the first two stories were good. And then I set it down for a couple of weeks and I read it with fresh eyes and I thought, oh, this is terrible. It felt like a cheap knockoff. It felt like me pretending I was him and I hated it.

    I threw all those stories out and then I had to figure out, okay, what's my voice? And that was a long discovery. But the reason why, this is a long way of saying this, those first several stories I wrote, I don't know, maybe six or seven stories, and it just take months and months. At one point, I reach out to my agent. I'm at a very big prestigious Hollywood agency. They do. They represent me in film and tv, and I reached out to my agent. I told him what I was working on. I said, Hey, do we have a book agency, a book department? He said, of course we do. What do I know? I tell him what I was doing. I said, can you hook me up with one of your agents? He goes, sure. So I reach out to their agents. This guy's in New York now, he doesn't have to take, just so people know, I told 'em what I was doing. He doesn't have to take me on as a client, but he has to take the call.

    I'm banging them. They got to take the call. He doesn't have to bring me on to represent him in books though. And so I told him what I was doing. He goes, oh, that sounds interesting. Send me what you have. I go, well, I only have a handful of stories, but I'll send you what I have. So I emailed them to him. I never heard back. I didn't hear back for probably six months at this point. And I'm still writing more stories. It doesn't matter, whatever. I'm thinking maybe he read it, he didn't read it, he doesn't like it, whatever. I'm not going to stop writing them though. And I just kept on writing all these stories. Finally, six months later, he reaches out to me. He goes, I'm so sorry it took me so long to read these. I love them. Let's get on the phone and talk about them.

    I was like, sure. He goes, and he was like, when we spoke, he said, he said, do you have any more? Because he only read whatever. I sent him maybe six stories, and I go, as a matter of fact, yeah, I'm almost done with the collection. Give me another couple of weeks and I'll send you the entire collection. So at that point, but again, I'm writing it because I want to write it. I want to do this. I'm not thinking about how much money I'm going to make. I'm thinking about the process of writing and figuring out how to learn. I had to relearn how to write because I'm a TV writer who now is writing books. There's a little difference. There's some difference to it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. A couple things here. I love the narrative, and I don't want to interrupt the narrative, but I think there's some topics that are coming up here. Is it okay if we just dive into those for a second? Yeah, please. Okay. You talked about David Sedaris and you were reading this and you're like, where is this going? And then it ended in this way. That was almost upsetting because it was so beautiful and so well done. What I'm hearing you say is something you talk about regularly on the podcast and in your social media content, which is the way you unpack your story is the job of being a writer. And that's almost effectively what I'm hearing is that's your craft and your tone and your style. You still have to understand story structure and you understand these things. But the unpacking, would you say that that's an example of what you're talking about when you say how you unpack something matters?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, and the thing is, I've really tried to study him. I think he's the gold standard. I think he's a master, a beautiful writer. There's certain things I was able to learn and certain things I was not able to unpack. And so I learned a lot from him for sure. But some things still remain a mystery to me from how he writes. I can't see through it, and I'm good at seeing through some stuff. So take that for what it's worth. I do remember thinking, I had long conversations with my wife when we were about this. I didn't want people to think that the book was written by a sitcom writer. I wanted it to be funny and dramatic, but I didn't want people to say, oh, this guy's, I wanted it to be a little smarter than just a sitcom, I guess. And so I was very self-conscious about that.

    And we had long conversations of Is this art? How do I make art? What is art? How do I do this? So it feels like art and what I really came, it was a really eye-opening moment for me, and it came from much of what I learned about how to do this. I learned not from writers, David is probably the only writer who I really studied a lot for this book, but I learned a lot from watching interviews with musicians, ironically, about how they approached their art. And I found that to be more helpful than listening to other writers. And one of the really interesting things, I was like, well, we know there's a market for what David Sedera says. We know people like what he does, so why am I trying to reinvent things? Why not just kind of do what he's doing? And there's two reasons why not.

    One, I'm not him. I can't be him ever. And that's almost the tragedy of the whole thing is I want to write, this guy can write, but I never ever will. So you're going to have to let go of that, which is almost tragic. But the other thing is, it's my responsibility not to, as an artist, if you want to make art, then add, you have to bring new to the equation. You have to bring new, and that actually, I picked up, I believe I picked up from an interview with watching Pharrell talk about music.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's awesome.

    Michael Jamin:

    Which is basically he's saying, listen, your job is to bring something new to the conversation, is to put the youness into it. Whatever is you, that's what you have to put into it. And that was very reassuring to hear it from him. I was like, oh, okay, now I can lean into me.

    Phil Hudson:

    This resonates with me. And what I wrote down here is that you can look outside of your space for inspiration. And I think this again ties to the fact that creativity is self, it's for the self. Rick Rubin, the producer, you're familiar with him. I think most people are at this point. I was just watched a clip of him in an interview and he said, I have never made music for a fan. When you do, it's bad when I make it for myself or when I do it because it's something that I like that resonates with the listener. And would you say that's what you're doing here is you're writing this for you in your tone because it's the best pure expression of your art?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yes, yes and no. Some of it, it's very truthful. It's very painfully truthful. It's very intimate. I go there. I think that's what makes it interesting. I think that's my job as a writer. It's my obligation as a writer is to figure out what the truth is and figure out how to tell it. But I also keep the audience in mind, and maybe that's just because of my background as a team writer.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, you're an entertainer to a degree because that's what you do, is you want people to tune in for 23, 25 minutes per week, have a good time, forget their worries, and then leave having gotten something from what you've done. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's also,

    Phil Hudson:

    But I don't know, that negates what Rick Rubin's talking about because it's like when you read, when you're putting out here, do you feel like you are getting the same value out of it that you would hope a reader would, or are you hoping the reader gets more value out of it than what you're getting out of it?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I don't know. I mean, first I keep them in mind. I picture my reader with a remote control in their hand. That's just become from me, a TV writer. So how do I make sure this story is compelling so that they want to turn the page? But I do keep them in mind in terms of how do I make this story not about me, but about all of us. And I think that's important because this has the danger of becoming very self-indulgent. These are true stories from my life, but I tell them in a way with art, so that you really feel like you're reading a character in a book. I am a character. The character of Michael is in this story, so it's not like, and then this happened, then this happened. I'm not telling you how I broke into Hollywood, although there are stories about that. I'm really telling you about the stories. These are stories of rejection. These are stories of triumph. There are stories there meant to be, the details are mine, but the stories are all of ours. So that's how I feel I'm telling them is like, okay, so that you can totally relate to this so you can feel, okay, I had something very similar and me explaining it to you helps you understand it, hopefully.

    Phil Hudson:

    And not to jump ahead, I saw you last year for my birthday, do a performance. My wife and I came out and there's a story, was it, is that what it's called?

    Michael Jamin:

    The Goul? Yeah, the

    Phil Hudson:

    Goul. Still a year later, 13 months later, still thinking about that goul because as a new father and then hearing your perspective as a father with children leaving the home, yeah, there's a lot of beauty and regret in that story that is paralleling the decisions I'm making now with my children who are young and what I want my life and my relationship to be like with them. So yeah, I think you absolutely check that box. You said, I've heard you say before, you want people to leave and sit there and think about it, have been impacted by what's happening. And I can tell you that that's been very true for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's been my, because, so Phil came to, I performed this, and if you want to see me perform, you can go to In Your Town if I travel with it, michael jamin.com/upcoming. But that's one of the stories. That's actually one of the stories I gave out to reviewers to review the book and people, they like that story. But yeah, my goal when I write any story, and hopefully I achieve this, is people say, I couldn't put it down. That seems to be the nicest thing you could say about a book. I couldn't put it down. I want you to put the book down. I want you to get to a chapter and just be so moved at the end of it that you're not ready to move forward. You just want to sit in that emotion for however long it takes you, whatever it is, just sit in it.

    I don't want you to, it's not meant to be consumed that way. And one of the things that I tried to achieve, I made, we did an audio book and I hired whatever. I partnered with Anthony Rizzo, who's the composer I worked with on Marin. He's a really talented writer composer. And so for the audio book, I would send him each chapter. And then I said to him, he's like, what do you want? I go, no, no, no. I want you to read this piece, interpret it. Tell me what it sounds like to you in music. What's your version of, he's an artist. What does this sound like to you in music? And that's what he came back with. And so at the end in the audiobook, if you prefer to consume it that way, at the end of the story, we go right into the music and it forces you, or not forces you, but allows you to sit in it. It allows you to sit in whatever motion it is. The music carries you out for 30 seconds or however long it is, just so now you can experience it in music, which I love that I just love. I thought he brought so much to the audiobook. I'm so grateful he hopped on board.

    Phil Hudson:

    I normally listen to audiobooks at 1.5 to 1.75 speed, and then the music kind of throws that off. This is one I would absolutely listen to in real time. Just

    Michael Jamin:

    Slow it down. Yeah, down,

    Phil Hudson:

    Slow it down and just sit in it and give yourself the treat and the opportunity to sit in that. I think very often we are constantly looking for the next thing or to get ahead or checking off stuff on our list. And that's not what this book is. This book is a sit in it, allow yourself to feel it. Think about how you can apply it. There's just some beautiful life lessons in here as well.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I hope so. That was my goal.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I think it's achieved. And I've talked to several people in your advanced reader group who feel the same way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    And you've got fans in there, but these are people who are very sincere with their compliments as well. And there's some great compliments coming your way from that advanced group.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so thank you. Honestly, I like to do more of this kind of writing, and this is, to me is very fulfilling at this stage of my career. To me, it's more exciting doing this than writing a TV show that might be seen by millions of people writing something that can make someone just make you laugh, but then feel something. It's funny, I have sort of a recipe and I'm wondering, people can see through it at some point, but I don't really care. My recipe is if I can get you to laugh in the beginning, I just want you to open up. Let's just start laughing about stuff and it start, most of my stories start out very fun and light, and then you kind of relax into, oh, this is going to be fun. And you let your guard down, and as soon as your guard comes down, then I hit you as really hard, as hard as I can with something emotional where I talk about, and because you're in my writing course, you'll know where this happens, where this happens structurally. And then at that point, once I hit him in the heart, there's no point in being funny anymore. The humor has already achieved its goal, which is to you to get your guard down. And so

    Phil Hudson:

    Engaged, paying attention, it's something, some advice, I know it's standard advice, but it advice used specifically gave me a long time ago, which is it's easy to kill people. It's hard to make them laugh, and so you're almost checking the box on the humor part, so they're completely engaged and engrossed in what's going on, which is why the emotional impact of the reality of this story hits so hard later. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    There were times I thought maybe I'm being too funny here in the beginning, I'm not even sure, but because I didn't want any of this to feel silly, I just wanted it to be fun until, but yeah, tonally, there's, I guess some stories are a little lighter than others for sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's good stuff. Going back to what you're telling though, in this narrative of how we got to where you are, you said that you reached out to your agent who got you in touch with the literary agent effectively for books and publishing, and a lot of people, myself included, might be tempted to submit to the agent and then wait and do nothing. And you made a point of saying you continued to write. And the question when he came back is, do you have more? So a lot of people, I think the mistake is that they're putting all their eggs in the basket. And we see this all the time with the questions on the webinars for the podcast, for your live q and as, when you do them on social media, whatever it is, how do I get an agent? How do I get a representative? How do I get a showrunner attached? How do I do this? And it's like you say you're putting all the power in the hands of somebody else and you're saying that's the wrong thing to do. And because you didn't, because you're writing for yourself to do the job, and you didn't wait for one person to make your career, you were even more successful

    Michael Jamin:

    In getting, and he doesn't care. I mean, he's a good guy and everything, but he doesn't care if I achieve this. What does he care? All he wants is, is he going to make money from this? And that's fair enough. He has to make money, so my dream is my dream. I have to make my dream happen. And so yes, then turned it into him. We sent it out, and then the feedback I got was, Hey, this is really great, but platform drives acquisition. I said, well, what does that mean? It means you need to have a social media following. I said, really? It's not good enough that it's well written. No, not anymore. Maybe 30 years ago. But today the industry publishing has changed as much as Hollywood has changed, it's really can they sell it? And now it's sold on social media. You're expected to have that.

    And I was a little upset about that. I was like, why can't it just be good enough? Everyone loved it, but platform drives acquisition. I said, all right, well, how big of a social media following do I need? This is two and a half years ago. And I couldn't get a straight answer that no one really knew, but especially in the space of They had a good point, Phil. They really did. It's not like this is not a novel. These are personal essays. But like I said, they're told story-wise, not if you didn't know me. You'd be like, oh, this is a nice story. But it just so happens that it's true. But the point that they made was, or maybe I made it with myself. I think that's what it was. I was like, if you were to go to Barnes and Noble and my book was on the shelf, why would someone buy it if they don't know who I am?

    Because there's true stories. Who cares if you don't know who I am? And that's a fair thing to ask. Why would someone pick it off the shelf? Now, here's the thing, as I was arguing with myself, but here's the thing. No one goes to Barnes and Nobles anymore. That's not where people get books. I mean, they exist, but most people just get it online. Most of the books are sold online. So why do I need to be in Barnes and no, I don't. I need, I mean, I can be, but it's not necessary. And so I was like, okay. And then I was like, well, if I build the platform, if I get a big following and people want to support me and buy the book curious and they like what I have to say and they think I'm talented, great. But then why do I need a publisher?

    What do they bring to the equation, honestly? Oh, they can get your book in barge. Oh, well, great, but no one goes there anymore. So what exactly did they do? And by the way, they get most of the money. I'm like, okay, well, they help you design the book cover, but the problem is they don't help you. They design the book cover. You don't get a choice of what the book cover is. Maybe they give you three choices, but that's about it. They decide how they want and they decide what the title of the book is. You sold 'em the Rights. So why am I giving away all this power to someone who hasn't earned it? Why am I making them rich? Why am I giving any creative input at all? When the whole point of this was for me to have a hundred percent creative input? I remember at one point, because I had talked to other people in the publishing world and they thought your title could be better. It's called the Paper Orchestra. I was like, yeah, but I think I like the title, but no one really knows what it means. And I'm like, yeah, you got a good point. No one knows what it means until

    Phil Hudson:

    I remember this conversation,

    Michael Jamin:

    And then it was ironically, I had a long talk with my daughter. It was on my birthday, and we went for a long walk, and she's so smart, and she says, well, why are she said to me, I thought the whole point of the book was for you to just write what you wanted to write without anyone giving you No. I said, yeah. She goes, well, why are you changing the title? I said, yeah, why am I changing the title? Why am I second guessing myself? So I did it my way. I did a hundred percent my way, and this is my book.

    This is my expression without having anyone telling me it's wrong, it's different. It should be this or that. Along the way. I got to say, Phil, it's so frustrating for, it's so frustrating to hear this kind of stuff, I think, but it's like I understand what people want. I want this. I want a complete creative expression. And to me, that's the satisfaction. Whether I sell a hundred copies or one copy or a million copies, it's the process that I got so much joy out of. And I think that's what people will enjoy. I mean, it's like I had so many agents, even afterwards, they find me on social media, they reach out to me, go, and I tell 'em what my book is, and they go, oh, that sounds nice, but if you write a young adult novel, I can sell that for you. Or if you write a how to book, we can sell that. I'm like, if I don't want to write those, this is what I want to write. This is exactly what I wanted to write. You got to do it yourself.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's right. And that's what you tell people. You got to basically make your mountain, create your mountain, and then climb your mountain.

    Michael Jamin:

    And all of it's doable. It's just going to take a long time, but it's going to take less time to build your mountain and climb it than it's for you to beg someone to make your life.

    Phil Hudson:

    And begging someone to make your life means you owe them and they have power over you.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's also, but you're going to hear no so many times you're going to get so much rejection. Who needs it? Why not just put all that creative energy into what you want to achieve instead of why are you wasting your energy hitting people up on LinkedIn? What's the point of that?

    Phil Hudson:

    This is something in business I'm bad about because we've talked about it before. I own a digital marketing agency. That was my career path before I moved to LA, and I still operate that agency, and we do nothing on LinkedIn. And I was like, well, you got to be on LinkedIn. That's where the businesses are. And I was like, I get that Our business is almost purely word of mouth, and it's because I'm not out shaking my can, asking people to put money in it. We stand on the value of the work that we do, and then that's referral work that goes out to other people. And that's not the way to grow to a business that's going to end up on the New York Stock Exchange or end up something you can trade. But what it is, it's a lifestyle business that creates a way for me to do what you're doing, which is to make my art, to be creative, to live my life the way I want without having to be beholden to somebody else dictating what I do with my time and my hours. And what I'm hearing you say is it's effectively the same thing for your book is had you gone with an agent who sold your book to a big publisher, you would now be mandated to do things in a certain way and you would've lost all of the same creative control. And it almost sounds like it would spoil the whole experience for you.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's hard to say. I mean, in the beginning, that's how I thought I had to do it. And then I realized I didn't have to who it could have been a great experience. I don't know. I mean, we'll never know, but I also know it's not necessary even a little bit, not in today's world. And if I do another book, maybe I will use a publisher, maybe not. I don't know. But the point is, if I do, they're going to pay me for it. You know what I'm saying? This first one's on me. I have to prove myself. Sure. If they want in on Michael Jamin, they're going to have to pay me or else, because now the power has shifted.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I can't remember if we've ever talked about this, but this came up in conversation this week's Kevin Hart, where he worked, traveling, doing standup comedy, getting names, getting emails after shows, building a fan base. And then when he got his first big deal, they were like, all right, and then we'll need you to send this out to your email list. And he said, it's a million dollars. And they said, what? He says, you didn't work to build that list. You don't get my people and mine. I put in the blood, sweat and tears on this. You did not. You're going to pay me for that blood, sweat and tears.

    Michael Jamin:

    And what happened?

    Phil Hudson:

    They paid him every

    Michael Jamin:

    Time they paid him. Yeah. Pay the man and a lot of this, and you've helped out as well with enormously, just in terms of the podcast and help me with marketing and all that stuff and the website. Yeah, but it's still one of these things. Build it first. This is the order in which you need to do things when you make it first and then people will join in. People will want a piece of that. They either want to help you or they'll want part of your success or whatever. It's not the other way around. It's not, Hey, help me make my dream. No one wants to help you make your dream. No one cares about your dream. You build it first and then they'll come out of the woodwork and decide whether they want a piece of you or not, because they can make some money off of it.

    But it's so much more empowering when you look at it that way. It's like, Hey, I have something to offer here. I have something great. I'm not even offering it. I have something great here. Do you want a piece of it or not? And the answer, they know, okay, that's fine. I will do it without you. But it's the other, you know what I'm saying? It's not like, Hey, help me make it out. Hey, help me. Then you're begging. It's the other way around. I have something great and I'm going there. I'm doing it with or without you. Up to you, you can decide

    Phil Hudson:

    It's field of dreams, right? If you build it, they will come. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    You got to build it first though.

    Phil Hudson:

    You got to build it first. You have to do the crazy thing. You have the lofty idea. You got to go make the baseball field in the middle of your corn field in Nebraska or

    Michael Jamin:

    Wherever. And people say, though, I don't know how to do that. But if you are a creative person and you want to get into a creative field, writing or screenwriting, whatever, be creative, prove how creative you are, you'll figure it out.

    Phil Hudson:

    Figure it out. Yeah, go cut your teeth. I think it's this metaphor for life though, which is we have to do things that are difficult and hard and things that we don't enjoy because that's how we learn and grow and get better. And redefining failure I think was a big deal for me because failure was something I just tried to avoid at all costs, to the point that I would do nothing if I thought I wasn't going to be 100% successful. So imagine doing that, trying to be a writer when writing is rewriting, you're not going to be okay the first 10, 15 drafts or whatever. Oh, god. And so if you have this fear of failure and what is failure? So redefining what these things means is very important. And when you start looking at failure, a lot of very smart people have said that failure is just the fastest way to get to success. You just have to fail as fast as possible so that you can achieve your goal. And it's just learning what not to do. And so many quotes about that.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's one of the things. Another thing that I picked up from another musician, David Bowie, as I was trying to figure out what art is, and he said something very similar. He said, art is basically is taking something from within yourself and figuring out a way how to express it so that you can help understand yourself and the world around you. And he goes, but to make something really great, you have to swim in water. That's just a little too deep to stand in. And that's when something great can happen. When you're in a little over your head, that's when the art is made. And it's the same thing what you're saying. It's like you got to do things that are out of your comfort zone, and that's how you achieve things.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So social media, being a public persona, subjecting yourself to just some of the most crazy things you've told me people say to you and your comments and your dms and just horrible things. Horrible

    Michael Jamin:

    Internet is horrible. I don't get a ton of hate, but I do get hate. But that's a double-edged sword of doing this. But also then it was also, okay, I put myself on social media as a screenwriter, as a TV writer, and here I'm sharing my expertise working in the business for 27 years, but I also have show you that I have to show you that I'm actually good at what I do, so that I try to make my posts funny. Or sometimes I just do a post. It's all funny so that you feel like, okay, maybe this guy can write as opposed to just me saying, I can write, showing you that I can write. So there's that kind of bridge I have to cross.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. The exercise of putting yourself out there though is just something you were hesitant to for years and years and years. I think since I met you, I've been telling you, you need to be on social media. You need to grow a social media following, and it was just not your thing. And what I appreciate about your story with this book is you care so much about this book and doing this thing for yourself that you're willing to do the uncomfortable, which is be public facing person who is willing to put yourself out there almost every single day for two and a half years despite what anybody says, because that is what is required for you to make sure that you are able to have the maximum impact as you can with this thing that's so important to you. And that is something most people aren't willing to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamon talking about? Today's episode is brought to you by my new book, A Paper Orchestra, a Collection of True Stories. John Mayer says, it's fantastic. It's multi timbral. It runs all levels of the pyramid at the same time. His knockout punches are stinging, sincerity, and Kirker Review says, those who appreciate the power of simple stories to tell us about human nature or who are bewitched by a storyteller who has mastered his craft, will find a delightful collection of vignettes, a lovely anthology that strikes a perfect balance between humor and poignancy. So my podcast is not advertiser supported. I'm not running ads here. So if you'd like to support me or the podcast, come check out my book. Go get an ebook or a paperback, or if you really want to treat yourself, check out the audio book.

    Go to michael jamin.com/book, and now back to our show. I mean, I have people who go on social and things. I go on social media. There's a lot of influencers that I follow or whatever, usually experts in their field, but many of them, or most of them don't use their real name. They don't because they want that anonymity, and I don't blame them, but I can't do that. If I'm talking about my book, you got to know what my name is. And so I end everything is Michael Jamon writer. That's scary to put your real name out there. And so there's that as well.

    Phil Hudson:

    This is scary in a real way too. I'm aware of at least two police reports we've had to file for people who've been insane.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, there's some insane people out there, but really insane and nothing too dangerous. I had to report,

    Phil Hudson:

    But its hate

    Michael Jamin:

    Speech. You still have to report

    Phil Hudson:

    It. It speech, it's hate speech. It's threatening. It's angry language, and the things that you're talking about are wild. They're not invoking it. One of the compliments I think you get for people is how you respond to criticism. It's like you could destroy people because you have that capacity.

    Michael Jamin:

    I could do that with my words. You're

    Phil Hudson:

    The definition of a good man, and the fact that you are dangerous with your words and you choose not to use it,

    Michael Jamin:

    I would believe me, I would tear them apart and make them look silly, but it doesn't help me any. It doesn't actually help me. So I just, I'm getting there rolling in the dirt with them, and then we both get dirty. So for the most part, I just ignore, but I also talk to other creators how they handle the same thing. It's this new internet fame. It's a strange territory.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Well, we were just talking earlier today about how you went. Did you go into a Kinko's or something to Prince

    Michael Jamin:

    And stuff? Yeah, I went to a Kinko's. I got spotted in the wild.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, somebody knew who you were and it was more common. Shout out Chris. Chris on the podcast, but it's like the first time, I remember the first time that really happened to you. I remember you told me You'll never believe what happened. I was out in this place and somebody shotted Michael Jamon Ry from their car. It's just a weird thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's just odd. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've had a taste of that through association, and I've talked about it on the podcast as well, where we went to our wrap party for Tacoma FD season four, and one of the assistant editors comes up and he goes, dude, I got to tell you, my wife works in the industry and she's an accountant, and she brought over her accountant friend, and they were like, oh, what Jody do you work on? And he was like, I work on Tacoma Dean. And she's like, oh, I listen to Phil Hudson's podcast.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh,

    Phil Hudson:

    Wow. And he's like, I didn't even know you had a podcast. I was like, ah. It's a strange feeling. And then later that night, one of our accountants, it must be accountants who listened to our podcast, they brought someone over to the party's like, yeah, listen to your podcast. I was like, it feels weird. And I'm not even Michael Jammin. I'm just a guy who's on there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's strange to put yourself out there like that, but you're doing it,

    Phil Hudson:

    But you're doing it.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm doing it, but I also, yeah. And also, listen, if you want to know more about me, then you'll definitely read the book. The book is very vulnerable, but it's still weird. I don't know. I felt like, well, David Sedaris can do it. I can do it. But I also, I think that's interesting about, I do think that's interesting about this kind of writing is that as opposed to writing a novel that you're making up and you are making up these characters, I feel like the stakes are higher when you're reading something like my book, because you, oh, this character's real, and he's really going through, it's not like when you're reading a fake a movie or watching a movie or reading a book, a novel and the character dies or whatever gets injured or something. Part of you can still say, okay, it's still made up. It's not real. That's just an actor going through something and the actor's pretending. But when you read this, you go, oh, this is real. This is a real person. This is not made up. And I do feel like it raises the stakes, and in some way, I feel like this is my answer to ai, to what if everyone's worried that AI is going to take writer's jobs? This is my answer to that, which is, AI cannot do this. AI is not capable of telling a story about me. That's real. I have to do that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Someone just yesterday I saw someone posted that asking AI to write about, to write about something is having them listen to a thousand hours of people talking about pizza and then asking it to make a pizza is just like, it's not going to come out. It's just not going to come out.

    Michael Jamin:

    I get a lot of people in my comments and they'll say things when I talk about ai, you clearly don't understand ai, and I want to say, you clearly don't understand writing. That's what you don't understand. Yep.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's the human condition. I mean, we've been talking about this forever. That's what Star Trek is, right? It's data figuring out what it means to be human. The thing that comes to mind for me is this, for random clip, I saw probably when it was airing real time in the early nineties, and my dad was watching it and it's data talking about how, oh, boy, time flies. And he couldn't understand the expression, time flies. And so he sat and watched an egg boil over and over and over again. He's like, it takes exactly eight minutes and 32 seconds or egg to boil because he couldn't understand or comprehend it from the machine side. And so it's all about that. Even machines want to be more human. And rioting is exploring the human condition. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's right. That's right. So if you want to understand yourself and you write, and then to me getting back to the book, that's what this process was figuring out who I am, figuring out who I, and it's so interesting because all these patterns kept on emerging. I got write a story and I'd get halfway through it, and I'm thinking, why would this character, and let's say this story is something that I did when I was 11 or whatever, why would this character do that? Why would I have done that? And a lot of times I just didn't know, why would I do that? It didn't make sense. Then I'd write something, I'd go, no, that doesn't feel true. That feels like the TV version. What's the real version? And then I'd have to think of another memory from that time. And I think, oh, I wonder if those two are related. And now I'm figuring out who I am. And I'm like, oh, that's why I would do that. That makes sense. Which is so interesting to finally be able to understand yourself at the end of this book. I'm like, oh, I know who I am.

    Phil Hudson:

    In some of my research for one of the pilots I wrote about special operators in the Seal team, six Delta fours, green Berets, army Rangers. I was listening to a bunch of podcasts, and one of 'em was talking about this principle that your level of trauma or your level of struggle is the same as mine. Even if something I've been through has been more horrific. From an objective perspective, our perception of my worst trauma and your worst trauma are equally impactful. And I'm wondering, we had very different childhoods, and we've talked a bit about mine and a little bit about yours, but does that process of exploring, why would you do things as a child? Is that healing for you?

    Michael Jamin:

    And it was healing and helpful. A lot of these stories, I feel, are apologies to various people I've heard over my life, and it's not written to be an apology, but when you're telling the truth, it's an apology. When you're acknowledging your end of it, it's an apology. And so I'm not writing it, Hey, please forgive me. It's just about the truth. And so, yeah, I really, it's so helpful, and hopefully this is what people will respond to. When you read the book, you go, oh, man, yeah, thank you for that. Thank you for putting to words what I couldn't do because I'm not a writer. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. That's the stuff that stays with us, right? It's a metaphor for things we're going through. And I think one of the most impactful lessons I learned in film school was the cool job effect.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is that?

    Phil Hudson:

    So it was this Russian director who showed the same shot of a man, and then he put it against a starving child or a child in a casket or food, or a beautiful woman. And at the end, everyone came up. And that actor was incredible. When he looked at the food, I could feel his desire for food. When he looked at that girl, I could see the pain of her death. And when he saw the woman, I could feel the lust. It's the exact same shot of the same man. And it's the subjective projection that one puts onto art that allows you, it's an unconscious way for you to make sense of your world and import what your experience is in on something, which is why art has always been a part of humanity. It's why it's something that we have always, I think, sought after. It's not entertainment from a sedation perspective where we're trying to avoid it. Sometimes it's that, but very often the things that impact us and mean something, they are things that we need to experience because they make sense. They allow us to make sense of our world.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. That's a good point that you point that out. Yeah. It's like I feel like I've played a part of that in writing sitcoms sometimes, and there's a place for it. You'll come home after a long day, you just want to thrown out and laugh and really not be challenged and not go there, but for this piece. And there's nothing wrong with that. People want to be entertained. But for this,

    Phil Hudson:

    People still learn from that too, that people need that, and it serves a role too.

    Michael Jamin:

    They need that. But for this, I didn't want that. I wanted to go way deeper than that. I wanted to because I wanted to feel something. Because my contention as a comedy writer, and I know this is true, is that when you write that humor, write something funny. Or if you go, sometimes you'll go see a standup who's hilarious, but then you leave and you are hard pressed to remember one joke that you liked, or you're hard pressed to remember what you even liked about it. You go, I just spent an hour laughing, but I don't really remember any of it. I know I enjoyed myself, but I can't, it's not with me anymore. And what I really wanted to do was write something that would stay with you after this. So you were still feeling like we talked about, you're still feeling it. And you can't just do that with comedy. You have to mix drama into it. Because comedy, that's not what comedy does.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, I mean, your course and what I've seen you do in your craft and sitcoms as well, this is really key point, is why do we care about this thing? The reason we don't care. That's the story. And that's the personal, and that's the people. And so, I mean, this has been your point, and what you've been teaching for years and years anyway is none of it matters unless it means something. And that is the drama part of the comedy. That comedy can break things and it can move us and give us that ebb and flow and that roller coaster effective emotions. And those are beautiful experiences to have in sitcoms or dramas or dramedies. But it's the, why are we watching this? It's the human thing. It's that human piece. That's what you're saying. That's what I'm hearing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. What's at stake here? What's really at stake? And again, I studied other writers. Some I thought did it great, and some I didn't think did it well at all. And so I was trying to hold myself to that higher standard of the ones who did it really well, because I knew what I, what I wanted out of this.

    Phil Hudson:

    And again, we've started by saying, you've climbed this mountain, and there's another mountain.

    Michael Jamin:

    There's another mountain. Sometimes people have said to me like, well, are you going to turn this into a TV show? It's so odd. It's so odd. Or a movie that somehow I was even watching, what was I watching, American Fiction, that movie. And there's a line in it where this author, she had a book that was a bestseller, and then she's giving an interview and someone said, oh, maybe they'll a hear. They're making a movie out of it. And she's like, well, I can't tell you anymore as if a movie is better than a book or a TV show is better than a book. A book could be a book, a book. What's wrong with a book? Just being a book.

    So I don't either have any plans to turn this in TV show. If anyone, could it be me? I am a TV writer. I could have very specific ideas on how I would want to do it, and whether a buyer would want to do that or not, I don't know. But I wouldn't compromise how I'd want to do it. But the best way to make it happen, if it did happen, I would have to sell a lot of books first. So if anyone wants to see it happen, then get a book. And then I would actually make content behind the scenes on TikTok, Hey, look at me now I'm meeting with this studio. And now if that's the ride you want to go on, then in order to go on that ride, I have to sell a lot of copies. But again, that's not my goal. Show support. You can if you're curious, but again, that's not my goal. The goal of this was only one thing. I want to write a book that moves people was never a TV show. I can write a TV show. I write TV shows. That's not what I wanted to do.

    Phil Hudson:

    And if you want to be moved, you have to buy a copy of the book because if you're listening to this and you want to experience what Michael has put together, you have to buy a copy of the book because that is, I know the number you've invested significantly into just making this happen for yourself. This is not some random cousin who's like, Hey, I wrote a book and I put it on Amazon publishing. This is the real deal. I mean, lift your book up if you don't mind, so people can see the cover. This has been out for a minute, but even just the story of this cover and how you got this cover and found this artist and license, it is a beautiful story in and of itself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Okay. That's another thing. So I wanted to cover,

    Phil Hudson:

    Before we dive into this, I just wanted to point out too, when you were talking about, you looked at all these other writers and people and you said, that's who I want. That's the level I want to be at. You've done this one. Whatever you do next, you're still going to be saying the same thing. All right. What's the next level of professionalism or craft that I can get to? And that's because you are a pro, and that's what you tell people to be a professional, which is constantly striving to be better than the last time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. There are a lot of writers or authors, maybe indie authors, they're cranking out books. I'm like, Jesus, I cranked this out. This took four years. I didn't crank this out. This was worked on really, I really worked on it.

    Phil Hudson:

    But talk about your cover. I apologize for interjecting there. I just wanted to get that point across that you're still going to be pursuing that. Excellent. And that's what makes people stand out. Excellence stands out in a world, I hope so.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, make something good and people will, okay, so for the cover, I wanted a good cover, but the book is funny and it's also very poignant. And so I looked at other books that I thought were really good, and so I found this one guy who had actually designed some of David Sari's early covers. I didn't know this guy, but obviously he gets comedy. So I read, his name is Steve Snyder. I just found him on Instagram. I don't know him from a hole in the wall. And I DMed him. I slid into his dms and I told him what I was working on, and I told him, I noticed how weird it's for me to reach out to him. And he goes, oh, well, send me your manuscript. So I did. And then a couple weeks went by, he wrote back. He goes, I love it. I'm in. And now this guy, he's like 80 or something, but he was retired. He goes, I'll come back out of retirement to make the cover for you. I go, great, but just so you know, I don't know what my budget is. He goes, oh, I'll do it for free. I want to be part of it. I love it. I want to be part of it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Wow, Michael, just let that sit. I know you've internalized that, but we talk about to everybody. You got to own the wins and you got to celebrate the victory. He's like, what does that mean to you that this accomplished

    Michael Jamin:

    Desire? It was very validating. It was very, and then I was like, alright, well, I'll just figure out what I'm going to pay you later, but, but then as we were moving down the line, he's retired, so he was getting, I just made plans. I'm going to be traveling from, he goes, I want to do this, but I don't think I can get it done on time. He goes, I was like, okay, I don't want to, okay, maybe you can refer somebody. So he recommended one of these accolades, one of the people he trained under him. And so I reached out to her same deal. And so I want hiring her, Jenny Carro. She did a wonderful job with the cover, but getting the cover. And then when we finally got the cover and I reached out to Steve again, I go, here's the cover.

    You want to see it? And he goes, oh, damn. I love it. I wish I didn't drop out. That's awesome. But what happened with Jenny? So she came back with a bunch of covers that were good, but they didn't feel right. There was something about it didn't feel right. It was like almost, and then she had one cover, and I hate to keep going back and forth with her. I was like, I don't want to discourage her. So one was almost good, almost like right, but not quite right. And then I was intent. I was going to use it. And then for some reason I happened to see an ad on Facebook. It was an article about artists or whatever. So I click on this article and I'm reading the article, and then there's other, I see the cover that she was going to license for my, she was going to license some artwork for my cover, and I recognize it.

    I go, that's it. And I click on it to discover more about what this artist had done. And then, which took me to his website or his Instagram page, I don't remember. And then I discover all his other work and I go, that's the one. So this is a licensed piece of art from this Dutch artist named Tune Juin. And I reached out to him, I want to license this art for your book, for my book. And he goes, great. It was just a boy sitting on words. And the title is a paper orchestra. And so it's not, what does it mean? It's just a boy struggling with words. That's all it is. And that's what the book is. It's about a boy who grew up to be a man who struggled with words.

    Phil Hudson:

    Do you remember what I told you when you told me that story? You remember what I called

    Michael Jamin:

    It? What did you

    Phil Hudson:

    I said, that's Providence.

    Michael Jamin:

    Providence, yeah. There was a lot of that. There was a lot of just, Hey, that's the universe telling me this is what your cover should be. And once I saw it, I go, that's it. We're done. We're done. We could stop looking.

    Phil Hudson:

    And then here's an artist who is putting art out that I would consider to not be standard, normal art that you would think about in a normal way. And then here he is featured in this article, and then here, now you're reaching out and his art is now supporting and improving your art. It's a beautiful thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then the same thing with Anthony Rizzo, who did the music. When I got him aboard, I go, listen, Anthony, I'm making this audiobook. I don't know how much I can pay you. He goes, I don't care. I want to be part of it. So I was like, okay. And then I had a small budget for him, but then I got this brand deal from Final Draft. I go, oh, good. I can give him whatever I was going to pay him. Now I can pay him additional money from this brand deal. It doesn't come really out of my pocket. Its money. It's kind of found money. So I just give it right to him. That's great. That's

    Phil Hudson:

    Great. I love that, man. Your network will pay in spades if the work you do is quality and you're a good person. I've seen that for you. I've seen that for myself. I've seen it in lots of other people. People want to be a part of your project if what you're doing means something and you're kind. And if you were Dick, imagine you were the showrunner and you were throwing tantrums and going on Tirades on Marin. Do you think anybody, I would want to work with you on this.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But there's that. And like I said, there's also build it for, if I started this by saying, reaching out to these people on Instagram or whatever, Hey, I have this idea that I want to make. Will you be part? No, come back to me when you're done, basically. And so for everyone who has a movie they want to make or a scene, alright, shoot a scene on a park bench with your phones. They're like, you don't need to spend $10,000. You could do it for 50. Whatever you need.

    Phil Hudson:

    Jamie Kaler, who I think you're going to have on the podcast, he just Captain Polonsky on Taco D and a bunch of other stuff. I had a long running series as well. He's got a series that he did with another known actor called Dad's in a Park, I think is what it's called. It's him on a bench with another dad just talking about dad stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    And where's that on YouTube?

    Phil Hudson:

    I'll find it. I think it's on YouTube and Instagram. But it's so real and funny. It's like, yeah, this makes sense. And it's two great actors who are just doing their thing. And it plays and it plays really well. It's very funny.

    Michael Jamin:

    And when you look at people doing interesting things, this is what I say, people who are just popping, who just broke onto the Hollywood scene somehow. Somehow they have a special on Netflix or somehow they're a star of a show or a movie, whatever. Look how they did it. They did it themselves. And then Hollywood discovered them because Hollywood was like, oh, we can make money off this person.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's the fable. It wasn't

    Michael Jamin:

    The other way around.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's a fable of overnight success that is never overnight success. There was always something before that. Every

    Michael Jamin:

    Time, these are people who are already building it, people like me, people like you who are already building it, and then people see go, oh, what's that fool over there building? I want in on it. And that fool's going to say, well, you can be in or you can either way. I'm doing it without you. So come along for the ride if you want

    Phil Hudson:

    Going to happen. I had love to talk about some of the endorsements of your book, if that's okay. I don't want to embarrass you with some of this stuff. How do you feel about telling the John Mayer story?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God. That's another

    Phil Hudson:

    Thing. I think it's a great story. And I'll just say this. Michael will always be very hesitant about bringing in friends or colleagues to talk about his stuff. And he's made it very clear as we're talking about how to help him market his book, how are we doing this in a way that's not going to ever feel like I am using these people? And so what we have on your site that are published are reviews that people have given you of your book. And there are sincere, honest reviews of your book. And these are people you've worked with and some of them are people you've not worked with. And Mark and John Mayer I think is just this amazing story of someone you've never worked with, but because of this mountain that you've built and that you've climbed, now there's this relationship or connection with John, the John Mayer. Yeah. And I think it's worth talking about, and John May and John Mayer has this great TV show that was on VH one. It's called John Mayer has a TV show, by the way. It's one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Oh, really? And you talk about you ever gone to a standup comedy show or something and you laughed. And I remember bits from this thing. Oh, funny. It is that funny. I'll send it to you after.

    Michael Jamin:

    But yeah, I want to see that. Yeah, I just noticed that he was following me on Instagram or I think on, I

    Phil Hudson:

    Think Mark Hoppel in the course, if I recall, tagged, commented and said, Hey, did anyone see? Is that the John Mayer? I think he kind of shouted it out in your

    Michael Jamin:

    Comments. Yeah, I had forgotten that. John. Every once in a while, someone famous would follow me. I'm like, look at that. Look at that. That's odd. Which is nice. And then so yeah, so he was been following me, and then I needed to get a blurb. I'm like, why not reach out to John Mayer? What do I got to lose? And he is a fabulous musician and guitarist. He really can play. That guy can play. So I just sent him a dm. Hey John Mayer. I know this is weird. I got a book coming out. I'd love a blurb from you. I can just send you one chapter if you want, just one chapter. That way you don't have to, whatever you want. And so he goes, yeah, yeah. He writes back, I just finished. I'm on way back to the hotel. He just finished a concert, right? It was by 10 at night. It was, I don't know what time it was. It was late where he was

    Phil Hudson:

    Just putting Michael Jam in late night sliding into John Mayer's dms. Everybody just keep that in mind.

    Michael Jamin:

    So he's in his car going back to the hotel, and I'm like, all right. So I sent him one story, and I think it was the Ghoul, the one we were just talking about. And he was great. I'll read it. He's just unwinding from his show. And so about a half hour later, he writes back to me, and this is the quote I put on the book he wrote, it's fantastic multi timbral. It runs all levels of the pyramid at the same time, his knockout punches are stinging sincerity, which is exactly what a musician would write. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    Multi.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I go, this is perfect because I can write more. And I'm like, this is perfect. And so we spent, I don't know, an hour or so just DMing each other and I'm asking him questions about art, and he's just DMing back. I'm like, holy shit. I'm DMing John Mayer. And it was getting late, and it was later where he was. He was on the East Coast, and my wife's like, I'm lying in bed. Are you still talking to John Mayer? Yeah, I'm

    Phil Hudson:

    Still

    Michael Jamin:

    Talking to John Mayer

    Phil Hudson:

    Was hilarious. You can't write that. It's a beautiful little thing. But he was so gracious. You're lying in bed next to your wife, DMing someone. And it's John Mayer. It's John Mayer. It's not some floozy. It's not some random girl on the internet. It's John Mayer. And she's like,

    Michael Jamin:

    He had so many interesting things to say and I'll continue sharing with another podcast. But I was asking him about art, about his, like I said, I learned from musicians, for some reason, what they do resonates with me and was, I dunno. He was so gracious and he did it right away. And what he wrote was beautiful. And then I was asking him about some of the songs he wrote, and he had some really good advice that applies to writing as well that I thought was just this guy's, when you talk to him, you go, oh, this guy's an artist. He's not phoning any of this in. He gives a lot of thought to what he's doing and it's super important to him. And I just thought, I just have so much respect for people like that. It was like he not a guy trying to be famous. He's a guy trying to make really good music.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. I mean, his blue stuff is beautiful. Love it. That's great. Obviously you got quotes from Mark Marin. He said some really kind things about you. He said, Michael was essential in helping me portray myself. Honestly. Michael did a beautiful job of it with a paper orchestra portraying your authentic self.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that was something I learned actually from running his TV show. Mark was very vulnerable on the show and very, we break stories in the room and I'm like, boy, I can't believe you're admitting to that. And he almost looked, well, of course. Of course. Why wouldn't I? And so learning how to write for him actually was very helpful. Learning how to write this,

    Phil Hudson:

    Kevin and Steve, I picked that up in Tacoma of D too. They, there's no shame in the life that they've led. They will just tell you,

    Michael Jamin:

    Especially Steve. Steve will tell you everything you want to know.

    Phil Hudson:

    Shameless, love it. Love Steve. There you go. Steve called me out on his podcast and said, he said, not that Phil Hudson's not an actor, but he's not. And I was like, oh, Steve, that hurts. Oh yeah. He told me that my acting went to my head. I was like, it did a little, that's, there you go, Steve. Shots fired. Yeah. But it's like not having pride of that. And it allows you to be vulnerable enough to get to the things. It is what you've told me before, though, nobody cares.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    No one cares. You think other people care. They don't care. They're too busy thinking about themselves

    Michael Jamin:

    And they're not. I've said this before, is that I think one of the worries people had when I was writing this book, they go, well, this is pretty personal, pretty vulnerable. Are you worried about being judged? And I've responded, I'm more worried about people judging me to be a bad writer. And so because of that, I will go there. I will give it to you because that's more concerning to me that you think I'm a bad writer. And so ironically, if you're worried about being judged, the course of action you should take is allow yourself to be judged and then you won't be judged.

    Phil Hudson:

    You and I were talking to another writer once and they said that they didn't want to go there, and you told me, we had a conversation. Did you hear what they said? And it's like, this is someone who has lived a life and has a story to tell and they won't go there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I'm like, well, you signed up for the wrong job. That's the job. Sorry.

    Phil Hudson:

    It was beautiful. Laura Sanoma left me a beautiful Barb beer.

    Michael Jamin:

    She's so sweet. I worked with her on Jas Shoot Me. It was my first job. And so I reached out to her and if you want to read, but she wrote,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's hard to see the letters I'm typing because my eyes are still Misty. Michael was a writer on a show I did, and I know he's funny. That's his gift and profession. I did laugh out loud that I expected, but what I appreciated the most was being led into Thoughts down the path to his deepest confessions and deepest Loves Good storytelling also leads us to ourselves, our memories, our beliefs, personal and powerful. I loved The Journey. And Michael, I don't know that there's any more fitting way to cap off the conversation we've had today than that quote.

    Michael Jamin:

    And she's an artist as well. I mean, she's an actor. I remember working with her. Laura's with the material. She's an artist. So I think she appreciated my journey as well.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Not to take away from that, I just thought if we could just talk about some of the other people who've read your book and Left Blurbs, and you guys can go see this@michaeljamon.com slash book. You've got Steve Levitan, who co-created Modern Family. He's the creator of Just Shoot Me Your First Real Boss, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Judy Greer, the infamous Judy Greer. John Schuller, who co-created Silicon Valley. He worked with you on King of the Hill.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, king of the Hill and Lopez as well.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Max Mutchnick, the co-creator, will and Grace, Dave Krinsky. He was a showrunner in King of the Hill. John Abel, who was a writer on Kung Fu Panda, who wrote Kung Fu Panda, the infamous Steve Lemmy from Broken Lizard Lemmy, Kevin Heffernan from Super Drew Beers Beer, fast to Co FD and Broken Lizard, and David Litt, who was a co-creator of King of Queens. And you have many more that are not listed here, but it seems to me like the people who've read your book at a high level, people that we look up to or know are having the same experience that Phil Hudson's having in 2022, sitting in a small theater in Glendale, California, watching you perform your craft and seeing your vulnerability on stage. And so it really does feel transcendent and something that we will speak to everybody who listens to it on audio or reads it on digital or in paperback.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. So I hope all of you will enjoy it. And if you are writers yourselves, I hope it inspires you to mine your own life for stories. And that's actually the last chapter I talk about that how I turn is a little behind the scenes of how I actually turn this idea into a story like my thought process while, so if that interests you as well, that's also a part of the book as a bonus little part.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's great. Now, I am one who will buy almost all formats of a book. I can put on audio while I'm, audio is better for me. I can remember most of that tones and things like that. But often when I'm trying to study something, I will read it while I'm listening to it. This feels almost like a performance, getting to see you live in the audio book format here, and I think there's a bonus. Is that right? With your wife, Cynthia, who directed this?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. That's on the audio book. We had a little, again, a different behind the scenes as well. Some people, at the end of the day, it is very visual because I still write it as if like, okay, what are we watching in the scene? I am still a screenwriter at heart. So you're like, okay, it's not very, so I try to make these scenes, I go, so you can picture it. So in your head, I think it's part of the enjoyment. You get to see it in your head. Although, like I said, I didn't want you to think I was a TV writer, but parts of it I think you have to embrace.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Well, all formats available right now@michaeljamon.com. Anywhere books are found at this stage right through set up. So if you're interested, go pick it up. You're doing sign copies on your website, so can sign copy. You can go to michael jamon.com/book and you can get it there. Anything else you want to talk about your book?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it. We got some merch as well. We got some accompanying merch. That's another thing. I hope this works out by the time I have to make merch. So I have a friend who is, I hope this works out. We're talking on Monday. He does the bumpers. He used to do the bumpers for the Conan O'Brien show. So he's helped me with design some of the merch, and this is how it works. If people out, Hey, I want to be part of that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, it's been a pleasure and I just want say, and I'm so proud of you as your friend and someone I look up to is beyond just a mentor, really, someone I look to as a dear friend, I am so proud of you for the work you've put in for putting yourself out there. I have seen, and again, you're older than me and have lived more life than I have, but in the time I've known you, I've seen your growth as you've put yourself out there to be more vulnerable, to share your art, and you're reaping the rewards of that through other people wanting to participate and the ability to impact other people. And I think you're a great example to people of why you should be putting yourself out there. Because imagine all of the lives you've touched over the last two and a half years through the podcast, through your videos, through your social media content, and how many of them you would've never, ever been able to impact had you not started down this journey that you didn't want to go down, but needed to. Because as we've heard in stoicism say, the obstacle is the way, right. Your path, this obstacle of growing, your following and putting yourself out there is the path. That journey is the path you needed to go down to have the fulfillment of getting this out.

    Michael Jamin:

    And thank you for all your help and your help marketing this and all that stuff, the website, all that stuff.

    Phil Hudson:

    Of course, happy to support you in anything you're doing here. And likewise, it's so mutual too. And for everybody, this isn't something I'm getting paid to do. I'm doing it, and I've been doing it because it's mutually beneficial. I want to be a part of what you're doing, and I've been begging for this for years of knowing you get this type of stuff. So it's mutually beneficial. And everybody who knows me because of Michael, thank you for that trust. But Michael, thank you for having the life experience to say what you need to say in a way that is impactful.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, thank you. That's beautifully said. That's because you're a writer. Thank

    Phil Hudson:

    You. Working on it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Working on it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Thank you, sir. Lots of stuff to talk about. Obviously the book is the most important thing right now. There's webinars, there's of courses, there's free stuff. But right now, now's the time to go support on the book and do something for yourself. Get the book and give yourself time to breathe and sit with it and feel it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, feel it. Go get it. Michael jamen.com. Thank you guys so

    Phil Hudson:

    Much. Until next time. Keep reading.

    Michael Jamin:

    Keep reading. Thank you, Phil.

    Phil Hudson:

    Catch you guys later. Bye.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. I did it again. Another fantastic episode of What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? How do I do it week after week? Well, I don't do it with advertiser supported money. I tell you how I do it. I do it with my book. If you'd like to support the show, if you'd like to support me, go check out my new book, A Paper Orchestra. It asked the question, what if it's the smallest, almost forgotten moments that are the ones that shape us most? Laura Sanoma says, good storytelling also leads us to ourselves, our memories, our beliefs, personal and powerful. I loved the Journey, and Max Munic, who was on my show says, as the father of daughters, I found Michael's understanding of parenting and the human condition to be spot on. This book is a fantastic read. Go check it out for yourself. Go to michael jamin.com/book. Thank you all and stay tuned. More. Great stuff coming next week.

    1h 14m | Feb 8, 2024
  • Ep 118 - October 28th Webinar Q&A

    On October 28th, I hosted a webinar called "How To Write A Great Story," where I talked about how to come up with interesting and unique story ideas, as well as how tapping into your everyday life interactions with people can help with this. This episode addresses questions you asked in our Q&A session that we didn't have time to answer. There's lots of great info here, make sure you watch.

    Show Notes

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

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

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

    Join My Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you better figure that out because your story needs to be about one thing everyone wants to throw in the kitchen sink. And it's about this, but it's also about this, but it also has elements of this. It's like, no, no, you don't know what your story is. You got a hot mess. You can't kitchen sink it. Your story's about one thing. And if you think it's about two things, congratulations. Now you have a sequel or you have another episode, but your story's about one thing. And if you think I'm making it up, read stories that you've enjoyed and ask yourself the same question. What is this about you're listening to? What the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity, I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts. Hey everyone, welcome back to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? And today I am answering your questions and I'm back here with Phil. Welcome back, Phil,

    Phil Hudson:

    Good to be here. Thank you for

    Michael Jamin:

    Having me. We had a delay because I borrowed some of Phil's mic equipment for a few weeks and then I gave it back to him with the wrong card. And then Phil, you learned a lesson. The lesson is no good deed goes unpunished.

    Phil Hudson:

    Oh man, I feel like's. I'm

    Michael Jamin:

    Happy to have taught you that lesson. Thank

    Phil Hudson:

    You for teaching me that lesson. I feel like the theme of every story I've ever written is that you get screwed either way. Just so everyone knows. Sometimes high tech is low tech and we have these awesome zoom recorders and they only allow you to have a 32 megabyte SD card. And then the American way of gluttony. We bought massive SD cards for the podcast, missed an SD card somewhere. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Here we're won't run, but we're back and we made it work. We had a little delay. And so today I have these webinars every three weeks or so where I talk to people about writing. And anyone's welcome to join. It's free, go to michaeljamn.com/webinar for the next one. And we have a rotating list of topics that I cover and they're all writing related. And so these are some of the questions I didn't have time to answer during these webinars.

    Phil Hudson:

    And you are often testing new subjects too, so if you've attended them in the past, make sure you come sign up so you can get into those.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright, well, we've got several topics and as we do, I tend to group these together based on subject matter, and these are raw questions just ask during the podcast. So I apologize in advance for ruining people's names and mispronouncing everything, but let's start with craft. I think that's the thing people care a lot about is how do they get better at writing? And s sl junk indie author asks, how does the story structure fluctuate depending on genre, I should say too, this is from your podcast, how to Write a Great Story, which is one of your My

    Michael Jamin:

    Webinar. My webinar. Your

    Phil Hudson:

    Webinar, yeah, yeah. Excuse me. Your webinar, how to Write a Great Story, which is one of your most popular webinars that we have. So if you haven't signed up for that, go do that the next time it's up. So how does the story structure fluctuate? Depending on genre, if I'm writing a horror, but I'm used to fantasy, what are some things I need to consider when structuring my story?

    Michael Jamin:

    I really don't think there's that much of a difference, to be honest. I think if you're writing a mystery that's different, and I think writing mysteries, people do it wrong all the time. Rich are a little harder to do, but you're just telling the story structure is very similar. You're telling a scary story. A horror story is just a scary story. A fantasy is just, it is a fantastical story, but they're just stories. I mean, everyone gets hung up on these genres. You get to decide the tone and the tone of your story is scary or fantastical, but it's still a story.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Something that you told me privately that I think is interesting for everybody listening, you were approached by a publisher who said, we want to make you the next Save the Cat. We want you to publish this book series, and you've never read any of those things. But for those of us who have, this is commonly taught, what are the tropes of your genre? What are the things in your genre? What is the story structure of your genre? And it's like you read between the lines and it's like what you've said many times. You're taking something apart and reassembling that and it's not the right way. You need to start with structure and then move forward. It's the same reason you do a foundation and then a frame, and then you do the rest of the house.

    Michael Jamin:

    You can paint the house any color you want, and that's whether it's scary or funny or dramatic or whatever. That's just color of paint. But the house still looks the same for the framing, still looks the same regardless of what paint you want to put on it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Just Mason May. How does someone overcome the concern that our work won't live up to its potential?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, it never does. To get over it, you'll never be happy. You'll never be, oh, I should have done it. This. When you're done, you're always going to look at it and go, I wonder if this could have been better. I think any artist is going to feel that way, but if the question is how do I make sure it's good enough to even share, well, then you can just give it to your friend or your mother or whoever and have them look at it and read it. Take your name off the cover and ask them, did you enjoy reading this? When you got to the bottom of the page, did you want to turn the page or not? And if you wanted to turn the page, you did a good job. And if you didn't, something's wrong.

    Phil Hudson:

    Right. Aside from that, what would you recommend people do to overcome the fear of rejection or the fear of someone hating their work?

    Michael Jamin:

    I get over it. I mean, that's the job you're signing up for this. Hopefully no one's going to be too mean to you, but just know that when I was starting off, I was no good. No one's good when they start off. I mean, no one starts every single artist you admire, musician, actor, writer, whatever, performer, they were not good when they started. Listen to them in interviews. They'll say as much, so you get better. The more you do, the better you get.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. We watch these kids shows now that I've got small children, and one of our favorite shows is Bluey, which I've talked about before. And they just dropped a bunch of new episodes yesterday, and one of the episodes is about drawing. And the daughter bluey is not good at drawing, but the dad's not good at drawing, but the mom's really good at drawing, and then the little sister doesn't care at all. She's just a kid and she's just drawing whatever she wants. And so the dad's super conscientious, self-conscious of what he's drawing. And so bluey the protagonist becomes a little self-conscious of her drawing, and they tell the story that the dad made fun of when he was a kid. So he stopped and the mom, just, her mom incentivized her, encouraged her, you're doing great for a 7-year-old. And she was like, oh, and that was enough. And then she became a wonderful artist. So at the end, bluey and the dad are both freed up to draw the things that they got made fun of or were worried about. And it's this beautiful allegory of just, Hey, just let it go. Who cares? That person's just being a jerk and it's because they envy what you do. That's

    Michael Jamin:

    A good lesson. That's a good lesson from that show.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's a great show. I bet we should watch it with your kids, Michael.

    Michael Jamin:

    My kids are too old to watch TV with me now.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, that's scary. It's so sad to hear that. Rachel Zoo, I would like to get my motivation for riding back and for everybody. You have this other webinar you just put out, which is about how professional writers overcome writer's block. And I think that kind of addresses this, but this was before that. But what general thoughts do you have about getting motivation back to write?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, well, first of all, I can't motivate anyone. I mean, if you don't have the motivation in you, then it's not going to get done. So you have to be self-driven. But probably what you're experiencing is the fact that you just don't know how to do it. And so when you don't know how to do something or you think you're bad at it, it's not fun. Why would you want to do anything when you feel like you're horrible at it? But once you learn how to do it and story structure can be taught and it doesn't make writing easier, it makes it easier. It doesn't make it easy, but it makes it easier. So I think the problem that you're facing is you just dunno how to do it yet. So come to some of my webinars and that'll help you a lot just to learn. You're flailing. I don't blame you. It's no fun. When you're flailing

    Phil Hudson:

    For everybody who is unaware, you also give away the first lesson of your online course for free @michaeljamin.com/free. And you teach this beautiful lesson about what is story. That alone is worth its weight in gold because it's just something we all miss or forget. And you've even said you forget sometimes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I mean, I was watching a movie that I got a screener the other, and I'm getting halfway through, I go, there's no story here. I'm bored. And now my wife was bored by it too, but she didn't know why. I knew why because I'm a writer. I'm like, what's the story you're telling? No one knew. And yet the movie got made. I dunno, I got to tell you.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. The other thing that comes to mind is many people have heard this guy, and you've heard me talk about him before, this guy, Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal leadership consultant, multiple New York Times bestsellers, a huge podcast, and he has this motto that says, discipline equals freedom. And he's like, it's a little bit counterintuitive because you think if you're disciplined, then you don't have choice and you can't do things. And his point is, if you are disciplined, you don't have to rely on motivation. And that's what I hear from you and I've heard from other professional writers is being a professional is doing it When you don't feel like it, motivation doesn't matter.

    Michael Jamin:

    You know what? I'll tell you as well, I post every day on TikTok or at least five or six days a week. I find, and I've talked to other creators who feel the same way. If I take too many days off, it gets harder to get back on. So two is the max, and you got to, because I know people think it's easy to, it's not easy posting on social media. It's like I got to think about what I'm going to say. I got to rehearse it, I got to shoot it, then I got to tag it, upload it, make all the meta tags. I don't do it in two seconds. And yeah, it's like brushing your teeth. You have to do it,

    Phil Hudson:

    And that's like any habit they say you can mess up once, don't mess up twice. It's like dieting, don't make two bad choices. If you made one, that's okay. Now continue to get back on track, but it's discipline, discipline, discipline. You just need to sit down and do the work because that is what is required. And if you're not willing to do that, this is not the career for you. It might be fun for you to do on your own, but even then I imagine that's going to be pretty brutal if you don't have the discipline and the habit of just sitting down and doing

    Michael Jamin:

    It. Oh, even if it's a hobby, it'll still be more fun if you know how to do it. I mean, golf is a hobby for most people. The better you get, the more fun it is to play.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I don't like being bad at things. That's very true. Great. Stephanie Anthony, what are daily writing exercise exercises that are invaluable to helping to build stronger storytelling muscles?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I don't do exercises, but would certainly have. Keeping a journal or a diary and writing it, knowing that no one will read it is very freeing. When I was in high school, I wrote, I had a creative writing class and our assignment was to write daily entries in this journal and we gave it to him at the end of every class and then he would read it and he was always so kind. He always said such nice things about what I wrote. He was looking forward to reading it. I thought that was really nice of him to do. I'm sure it wasn't very good, but I was trying to entertain him and he appreciated it. Yeah, just write and read how those are your exercises. Write and read.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've talked before about some of my experiences translating for the Sundance Labs and some of the things I got to do with the scholarship I had through Robert Redford and this woman Joan, who runs these workshops at the labs for whether you're a writer, a director, whether you're doing editing, whatever it is, everyone goes through this basic storytelling lab with her, these workshops almost every day. And it's about taking, basically it's what you talk about in your course, mining your life for stories. And I remember that one time I went and she saw me and she recognized me from doing this Redford scholarship stuff, and she was like, it's so good to see you here. And I told her what I was doing and she was introducing everybody in the room and I introduced myself and she was kind enough to say, and Phil is a very talented writer, and I made the mistake of saying, well, that's why I'm here translating. And I've been thinking about that literally today as doing the work and practicing and getting better and then getting acknowledgement from other people is important. The practice of doing it every single day is the exercise. And then I think the other exercise is accepting people's praise when it's earned and deserved.

    Michael Jamin:

    Take the compliment because you know why it's insulting not to. It insults the person, not if you shit on it, then they gave you a gift

    Phil Hudson:

    And I did.

    Michael Jamin:

    I see people do it all the time. You're not the only one. It's normal. You also feel like, well, I'm not good enough.

    Phil Hudson:

    My thought was like, well, I'm not in the labs, so I'm here translating, but I did it in front of people and I did apologize to her after, and she was very kind and we had a good chat about it, but that was ringing in my head today.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's hard to take a compliment for a lot, a lot of time I feel the same way. I feel the same way,

    Phil Hudson:

    But if you say no or you shoot it down, then it's all going to be harder because you're reinforcing unconsciously that you are not good or it isn't good enough

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Phil Hudson:

    You got to take the wins. Take the wins.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, right.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. A couple of questions related to the topic, and you're online screenwriting course, so they're kind of bundled together, Joel Riedel regarding execution of an idea in a script. How do you know when you've taken a script far enough? In other words, how do you know if it's ready?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, kind of the same. I kind of touched on this earlier, but basically give it to someone and take the title sheet off. If so, they don't know you wrote it and then give 'em a week or so to read it. And if they get to page 20 and they ask, they're going to say, what do I know? I'm not a Hollywood director. How do I know if your script is any good? You say, well, no. When you get to 20, do you want to read more? Does it feel like I gave you a gift or a homework assignment? That's it. You don't even, because your reader is your audience, they don't have to be a Hollywood insider to know whether they like something or not. Do they want to turn the page or not? And if they do, it's good. If it's not, if they don't, that's a problem.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, there's levels of that too, because I've written things that I've given to friends and they said this was great and then given 'em to you and you've given me good praise, but solid feedback and things that I could improve, and it's the quality of the feedback is also important, but what I'm hearing you say is regardless of that, if you have a show on tv, whoever's going to sit down and invest their time to watch your story, they need to all understand there's a story here and it's worth the hour of my time, the 27 minutes of my time, whatever it is that they're doing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, because no one's obligated to watch your show. They'll turn the channel now. So that's how you judge things.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Are you ever at a point when you write things where you feel you've done enough, I'm happy with that one, that one's good to go, or is it always like, I can make that better. I just got to turn it in?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I always feel that way. Even with my book coming out, I always feel like I could have done that a little differently, but it's like, no, you got to let it go. You got to let, but I saw an interview with Frank Geary and he was looking at, I think it was 60 minutes, and he was staring at the Disney Concert Hall, which he designed, and he's a fantastic architect. I think he was with Leslie Stall, and they're admiring his work and she goes, when you see this building and it is one of the most beautiful buildings in la, yeah, it's

    Phil Hudson:

    Great. It's gorgeous. If you guys have seen Iron Man, I want to say Iron Man one, they go to it,

    Michael Jamin:

    They do. It's very sculptural. It looks like a piece of sculpture, and she said, when you look at this building, what do you see? He goes, I see all the things I would do differently now, and he's a master, so you just never get past that stage,

    Phil Hudson:

    But that's not the job of a pro, which is what you teach. The job of a professional is you do the work, you turn it in, you move on.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you move on to something else and make the next one better if you can.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, you always do the best you can with the time you have. Is that accurate to say?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That's definitely what with tv, we got to turn on an episode of TV and at the end of the week, so we do the best we can.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Awesome. Camika Hartford in creating a story with structure in mind first, is it ever useful to organically write or figure it out, then go back and pick out the pieces you want to create a solid narrative, or is that just wasted time? This is in regards to Greta Gerwig process. That's a little bit different than most people. That's

    Michael Jamin:

    A great question, and if you were writing a movie on your own time, sure, you can write it. You don't have time to schedule. You could take four years to write your movie, and if you want to discover it organically and if you understand how to do that, if you understand what that means, it means you have to write and write and then you figure out what the story is. Then once you finally find the story, you can go back and rewrite all the other stuff that's not the story and then fix it. But you still have to understand what story structure is to know what you're fixing. If you were to on a TV show though, you don't have that luxury. You're on staff with a bunch of other writers in a room, and before one word is written, you break the story on the whiteboard and then you outline it. Just don't discovering the story. Everyone agrees on what the story is in the writer's room, so it's a very different process. One is more organic, the other is definitely more efficient.

    Phil Hudson:

    You said everyone agrees, and I've been in the room, or I've seen people not agree with the showrunner.

    Michael Jamin:

    When I say everyone agrees, I mean the showrunner agrees. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    So just for a point of clarification for people, it is not your job to approve every decision in a writer's room, but like you said, when you're writing something for yourself, you have the luxury of doing that. So yeah, fascinating question and answer. Thank you, cam. Gleb, Lin, how can I bring my vision to life through a screenplay?

    Michael Jamin:

    How can I bring my vision to life? I'm not really sure. Are they asking how do I sell it or

    Phil Hudson:

    How do I think? What I'm hearing from this question based on the topic is, alright, so I've got this vision for what I want my story to be, and I've chosen screenplay as my medium. How do I get what's in my head on the page

    Michael Jamin:

    And justice?

    Phil Hudson:

    You know

    Michael Jamin:

    What? I saw this short by Wes Anderson last night, God, I can't remember what it was called, damnit, I don't remember what it was called. It was with Ray Fines and Ben Kingsley. It was a half hour long and it was typical Wes Anderson only, it wasn't shot like a movie, it was shot like a stage play, and so the character would talk and behind the character, the sets would move and would fly in this different set. Then he'd pretend to walk and then he'd be in a different set, and it was wonderful to watch. It was so creative, but on paper, it's the most boring thing in the world. There's no magic on paper. You have to see it. So if that's what you want to do, you're going to have to just build that yourself. You're going to have to got a phone, you got a camera, you got friends, make it yourself and don't spend a lot of money. Whatever you think it's going to cost, I guarantee you I can shoot it for much less because it's not about the money. It's always about the words and the more creative you are. I did a bunch of commercials that I wrote for,

    Phil Hudson:

    It's just about to talk about, were

    Michael Jamin:

    You going to say that?

    Phil Hudson:

    I was, yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    For Twirly Girl, my wife had a company called Twirly Girl, and we shot all these commercials and I wrote and produced them and I hired a bunch of high school kids to shoot it as my crew and the sets, I built the sets out of cardboard, literally I got cardboard boxes and I built everything. And the fact that it was made out of a cardboard made it funnier. It made it silly,

    Phil Hudson:

    But tonally on point too because it's a children's clothing line, right? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it was magical, but it had the same, Wes Anderson has that same kind of magical thing about him. It doesn't exist so cool about it.

    Phil Hudson:

    For those of you who haven't seen them, are those published anywhere? Are they on Twirly Girl YouTube? I know we have in your Vimeo account. I've seen them.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know there, I mean, I think you could see some of them. If you go to twirly girl shop.com,

    Phil Hudson:

    Would you ever want those published on your site just as examples?

    Michael Jamin:

    We can do that. Do you think someone is interested? We should put some there.

    Phil Hudson:

    Why don't you guys, if you guys are listening to this, just go comment on Instagram and just put hashtag twirly girl in the comments, and so we know if you guys want to see 'em, we can load 'em up on your side. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    We can make a page for that, but it's probably a good idea, Phil. I think it should be inspiring. Each of those commercials, they're about three to five minutes long, whatever. Maybe they're five minutes, but I cut 'em down to three and each one costs, the first one I think was 1200 bucks. You can do it cheap. You can do it cheap.

    Phil Hudson:

    My business partner Rich, he was one of my professors in film school, actually he's teaching at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. He's teaching film right now. And so for the final project last semester, he had them shoot a video, basically that kind of commercial for pickleball brand. And the thing looks incredible. There's amazing camera, there's crane movement, there's drones, it looks good, and $128.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Oh, that's great. That's great.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it looks like it was 10 grand. Now there's, it got to perform as an ad. I dunno, but the quality was definitely there and what I'm getting to is when you talk about getting your vision to life, it is the job of the writer. It is the job of the writer to get the vision on the page so that anyone who reads it can see that vision. But it is the director's job to take that and work with the art department and everyone else to expand it. Or in tv, the writer is typically the showrunner. That showrunner has that same capacity to get the vision made beyond doing it yourself. I think the other piece of advice that I might give would be you need to understand your craft. You need to understand what a screenplay looks like, and your formatting and your own style and tone are going to influence your ability to do that on the page. If you're not going to produce your own stuff, and I don't mean that to counter what or contrast with what you're saying, it's just the person who's not going to go shoot those things. If you're just talking about it from a writer's perspective, you got to have your story there. The structure has to be sound, and then you need to be able to use the words and the style and format of screenwriting to get the job done to convey that vision.

    Michael Jamin:

    And as you were talking, I forgot to tell you this morning on TikTok, someone tagged me and they said they're in law school and that they're taking an entertainment law class and their professor assigned them to watch my channel.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's awesome. Why?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know why. What a weird homework assignment.

    Phil Hudson:

    Love it. Love it. Maybe he's going to just call out all the things that you could be sued for. Yeah, maybe. That's wild, man. The world's shifted in the Michael Jamin sphere over here. You got Michael's got his own Wikipedia page too. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm on Kpia. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    A couple of years ago you would've never wanted any of this attention, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I still struggle with it a little bit. I still struggle

    Phil Hudson:

    Just highlighting that for everybody here who's struggling to put their stuff out there, what a lot of these questions are about, you wanted to do something, just publish this book and you said, what do I need to make that happen? It's been over two years in that process. And your book will be coming out pretty soon.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, we'll do a special episode on that. But yeah, when I'm yelling at you guys to build the damn mountain to build it yourself, I just want you to know everything I recommend, either I have done or I'm currently doing, so I'm not talking out of my ass. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Zero hypocrisy here with the recommendations and I will defend you on that because I see it happening. Yeah. Alright. Sucks to suck has a question. Great. Great. Username story build finding, planning the path of the characters. This is a statement, it's not a question, but when you're story building, how do you find or plan the path for your characters? What are their arcs?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, that's something I teach in my course, my screenwriting course. Come sign up michael jammin.com/course, but that's not a 32nd answer. That's a 14 hour course. So yeah, come to my webinars. I did a webinar a couple weeks ago where I literally gave away part of the course. Not a lot of it, just a small part of it.

    Phil Hudson:

    I was surprised. It's a lot though. It's a lot of nuggets in there of,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, there's a lot of good stuff in that. I was like, I kind of felt like, guys, if you don't hit the whole thing, you're missing out because this is pretty good stuff.

    Phil Hudson:

    What was that? How professional writers create great characters? Is that

    Michael Jamin:

    What it meant? No, it was, I don't know. It was not. It might've been getting past writer's block or what was the one

    Phil Hudson:

    After that? Both of those are pretty good, and I think you've given a lot of new context and a lot of context in there for that. I think it was a great characters was one specifically on this subject, and you talk about this, I don't want to spoil it for people who are going to miss it, but you talk about the principle of how to put the right character in a story and it is worth watching. I don't want to steal the opportunity for you to learn that lesson by listening to Michael.

    Michael Jamin:

    Come to my talk on characters that it'll help you a lot and it's free.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Sammy Cisneros, how strict should we follow conventional story structure?

    Michael Jamin:

    I would say don't break the rules until you understand them. So I would say very strict, and just so you know, I don't break the rules and I've been doing it for a long time. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Honestly, once you're in that story structure, there's still so much creative freedom that you can have once you understand, it's not like I don't feel handcuffed when I'm writing a story that way. I feel liberated. I understand how to do it. There's the roadmap that'll help.

    Phil Hudson:

    You discussed this principle of Picasso in your free lesson, which I think everyone should go pick up or rewatch if you've signed up for it in the past, but you talk about what it means to become a master and it's visually apparent when you look at the way you display that in that lesson.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, go watch. Yeah, that was in the free lesson,

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael jamon.com/free.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, go watch that. That'll help.

    Phil Hudson:

    Great. Leoni Bennett, when breaking a story, do you keep track of both plot and story?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's all yes, all yes. And if you don't know what that means, there's a difference between plot and story, and I talk about this in I think the free lesson, but yeah, you have to keep both in mind. You don't do one without the other. It's the same time. You can have a plot if you have a good plot, but no story. You got nothing. If you've got a good story but no plot, you also have nothing. So you need both.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I think lesson two in the course is heavily dedicated to this, and you do touch on it on the free one, but second year in the course and you get to lesson two, it's like, oh, okay, this makes a lot more sense. And I've always said this since we started the podcast and doing this stuff together. You're the only writer I know online who talks about story and not plot everyone else's. What are your plot points? What is this plot? What is this beat? How does this beat build to this? What is your inciting incident to this thing? To crossing the threshold to the Boone? And they're mixing all this jargon from all of it's youngian, it's Joseph Campbell. It's like all this stuff. It's very hard to even wrap your head around. And I'm egotistically. I consider myself to be a pretty intelligent person who's capable of learning. And very often when I started studying screenwriting, I was just beating my head against the wall because it's like I don't even understand what subtext is, and you're telling me to use it, but no one's teaching how to use subtext, which you talk about, but it's that. Yeah, it's the story. It's story, story, story. And then the plot is, to me, it is the painting of the story. It's what makes the story matter.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I watched a movie the other day and there was plenty of plot. Things were moving along, things were clipping, things were happening, but the whole time I'm like, so what? Who cares? Why do I, this is so who cares? And so the story is really the who cares part. Why should

    Phil Hudson:

    Write that down? Write

    Michael Jamin:

    That down. Yeah, write that down. It's the who cares. It's what to me as the viewer or the listener or the reader, it's all the same. Why do I care what happens to the main character? And if you don't, I won't say it on camera, I won't say which one it was, but it was a big movie, big budget, big director who's done some great stuff. You should

    Phil Hudson:

    Just text me so I know what it

    Michael Jamin:

    Is. I'll tell you later, but I was like, who cares? Why do I care about any of this?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Dave Crossman, who is pretty active in the course we've talked about before. He has said that I have a coined phrase now when I read someone's script. It's a lot of things happen, a lot of people doing things and nothing's happening.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    That's good. Lots of stuff. Just

    Michael Jamin:

    Plot is so boring.

    Phil Hudson:

    Cool. Yeah. Alright. David Campbell, how do we determine which contestants, which content to reveal in what order?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. I have a whole analogy that I go through in one of my free webinars about the order in which you unpack the details of your story is really important, and that's what I teach in the course. But for sure, yeah, a lot of times you'll read new writers and they just do a dump. They just dump everything out. But that's not how you tell a story. The story is like you as the author, you get to decide when your reader learns this, and that's how you keep people turning the page.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I have bought a lot of self-published books from friends and people I went to film school with and some are good and some are like, wow, what you just put in a chapter could have been a whole book and you ended this chapter in a place that makes zero sense. And it's because of the way they're laying out the story. They have so much they want to say they're just rushing through it or they have so little they want to say it's dragging on. And to me, I think that's what we're talking about, story structure. If you understand structure, then the artistic way you unfold that sort of unravel that story is your craft and your voice and that the person who comes to mind for me is Guy Richie. I think Guy Richie does that masterfully in his stories.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I'm working on a story right now, which I'm writing, and there's one of two ways I want to write it. And so I'm not sure which way I'm supposed to do it, but I'll choose one and I'll go down that path and if I find it halfway through, it doesn't work, I'll go back and do the other way.

    Phil Hudson:

    So you're saying you're not married to the words you wrote. They're not precious written in stone and can never be changed.

    Michael Jamin:

    No. It's all about, yeah, exactly. I've tossed out so many stories that weren't working, but I am always thinking about what's the best way to compel the reader to turn the page.

    Phil Hudson:

    High level note there, guys, write that one down too. Write

    Michael Jamin:

    It down.

    Phil Hudson:

    Paul Gomez, seven 90 Should a story center around subject or a character, is there a different approach for each? What I'm hearing with this question is should I focus on theme or character when I write my story?

    Michael Jamin:

    Honestly, I think you focus on a character and then theme comes a little bit later, but I've seen some movies, the very interesting setting, very interesting subject matter, very interesting. But because I don't care about what the character wants and I'm not invested in the character, I was very unsatisfied with the movie, even though the subject matter was really interesting.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Previous podcast episode we've done, we talked about basically picking a word. There's a word that's going to color my story then to me is theme. What is the theme of this that might help shape the character that I'm telling to convey that theme, but the character has to matter or it doesn't matter what the theme is.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. When my partner and I are writing, often we pretend there's a drinking game. That theme will keep on appearing, and often you'll see a word recurring over and over in a script, and we always will drink, drink, and then when we're done, we go back and change those words. So it's not so obvious we disguise it. But if you're doing it right, that theme will reappear many times and throughout your script, but you just have to hide it a little better.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff. Guys. I know some of you are advanced enough to know how much gold Michael's just dumping his pockets right now. Just gold nuggets. For those of you who are newer, this is worth re-listening to so that you can pick up that gold. This is stuff that will shape you, and I would come back and listen to this one six months from now because you're going to be a different place as a writer at different things. I've definitely seen that even just listening to our podcast with questions I've asked you. The answer is that I got two years ago apply very differently to me. Now. I'm a father of two kids now I am dealing with all these other different life issues than I was two years ago, and that affects the way I tell my stories and what things I want to talk about.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I'm still learning, guys, just, I mean, you're never done learning when you're writing, so I don't know everything. I just pretend to

    Phil Hudson:

    More than he gives himself credit for, but he's going to take credit like we talked about, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. Yeah. Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my content and I know you do because you're listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people like you can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not going to spam you and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michael jamon.com/and now back to what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about?

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright, is that my voice asks the beats? Is that what we are referencing here when we talk about story structure are the beats?

    Michael Jamin:

    The question is what? What's

    Phil Hudson:

    The question? Yeah, so the context of this is from the webinar, how to write a great story. And when you're asking the question, what is a story or what is story structure? They're asking, are you referencing beats? Is that what you mean when you say story structure? They're

    Michael Jamin:

    Beats, so they're about seven or eight beats in every story, and it doesn't matter whether you're writing a half hour, an hour and a half feature, whatever that you must hit, in my opinion, in order for a story to feel fulfilling. And so those are the beats I talk about. And one is at the bottom of act one, bottom of act two, these are all important beats and I teach that. But yeah, and there's still some creativity you can have. Well, a lot of creativity you can have once those beats.

    Phil Hudson:

    I want to highlight something because I know you don't read any of the other advice that people are giving. And again, a lot of these people are not riders. In my intro to storytelling class, which is writing 1 0 1 in college, my professor asked this question, how many beats, beats are in this thing? And he'd have us watch a movie and count the number of beats. And then he put up this image on the board and it was 40 beats. And he says that every feature should have about 40 beats. Now, that's the difference between sequences and beats, and you already can tell this is again very confusing, right? But this is the formulaic approach that is very confusing and shackling to people who are starting out and what you're saying, I don't want people to misconstrue what you're saying by saying there should only be eight moments in a script or eight scenes, but he was describing scenes as beats and how you progress through things. And that comes from a book, and I can't remember which book, but it lays that out.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's just too many. How are you going to keep all that in your head? I feel like eight is manageable. Eight not eight scenes, but eight moments that you have to hit. And then it just like when you go from A to B2C to D, you can take a little side trip from A to B, but you still got to get to B.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And I think that USC and UCLA, I think they use what they call eight beat story structure, which mirrors pretty close to what you teach, but you'd expect that because they're proper film schools taught by professional writers, directors, producers, editors who are just doing that now because they've moved out of their first career. So yeah, I just want to make sure people are not misconstruing the two or conflating 'em. NRS creates How can a series pilot with more than eight main characters work without story overload?

    Michael Jamin:

    You wouldn't want to have that many go back and watch some of these old pilots or any pilot even towards whatever season five or eight. They may introduce a lot of new characters, but in the pilot, how many characters were in the pilot? And if it's a sitcom, you're talking probably five or six. It's if an hour long, you're going to have a few more. You might be eight, but you should be able to service eight characters in an hour long story. So it shouldn't be a problem. It's when you start growing the cast, it gets more complicated.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I think lost is a great example of this. Tons of people, plane crash, there's mayhem happening all around you, and we're looking at four or five people. And then as the series goes along, they introduce more people and the stories become more complex and there's side things happening. But in the pilot, which is two hours, I think JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof did that masterfully.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, great pilot.

    Phil Hudson:

    Richard Monroy, life, death Rebirth. These themes are found in art. How can this be applied to screenwriting?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I mean, what else are you going to write about when you're going to write about all events that happen to you in life? Jealousy, anger, love, betrayal, vengeance, whatever. That's what you're going to write about. So you're going to you life mirrors art and art mirrors life.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I think that ties back to our theme as well, right? You pick your theme and then that's the thing you're deciding to talk about, and then your characters and the story and the plot all play to paint that picture. Yeah. David Campbell, another question here. Do you have to write a log line for every episode or story?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. One of the things, when my partner and I run a TV show, what we make all the writers do, including ourselves, is we write after the story is broken on the whiteboard and one writer is chosen or a team is chosen to write that script, the first thing they got to do is write what we call a book report, which is a one page summary of what we just discussed in the writer's room for past week. And this is not as easy as it looks. We need to make sure everyone's on the, were you paying attention? Did you understand what we finally agreed to? And at the top of that book report, we make them write a log line. What is it about? What is this episode about? And it's amazing how that one simple thing can really, really be beneficial. I never assume anyone understands what it's about.

    And sometimes I tell a story that a couple of years ago, I think it was on Tacoma, my partner and I were writing an episode, we're writing the outline and we're figuring out these scenes. We start arguing over what the scene should be. And I was like, I'm right. And he's like, he's right. And I'm like, wait a minute, what do you think the story's about? And we didn't agree on what the story was about. We literally didn't agree. So we stopped and went back to the whiteboard to figure out what the story was about. Even though we had spent a week working on it, we couldn't agree.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, that's how much it matters. I don't know that there's anything to add to that. That's great. Henry Wind, as an audience member, I'm really trying to catch the details and the dialogue so I can understand what is happening in this scene between two actors. How do you deepen subtext?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, characters often don't say what they're actually thinking. And so that's the difference between writing directly and writing indirectly. And again, I talk about this in the course to greater detail, but writing directly is, I'm really mad at you. You hurt my feelings. The other day when you said this about that's writing directly, writing indirectly might be just me ignoring you or me telling you that your hat is stupid. So you know what I'm saying? Who cares about your hat? I'm really mad about you for what you did. And so that's the difference. And the more indirect you can write your writing, the better the smarter it seems.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's amazing how this is human nature though. Just last night, my daughter, she just turned three, and so she's throwing a little bit of the terrible three tantrums. I've heard terrible twos, but it's really the threes is what every parent says. And she wanted to do something and we said, no, it's time for bed. And so her lovey, her stuffy Is Cob the Cow? And she's like, I don't want cob in my bed. And my wife who's wonderful, says, just because you're mad at us doesn't mean you should take it out on other people. And she said, okay. And then she cuddled her little stuffed animal, but it's human nature to do this. She didn't say, I'm mad at you. She's like, I don't want COB in here. I don't want to sing songs. I don't want to read a book. She's mad at

    Michael Jamin:

    Me. She's writing indirectly. She's a writer.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. She's human nature. The beautiful things you learn from kids, man. All right. Moving on to breaking in the Broken Breaking Seas. That's an apt name. Can you talk about working with a writing partner a bit? I'm very curious what that process is like.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's sort of a marriage and you get to decide who you want to marry. I've been working with my partner Seaver for close to 30 years. And at this point there's a lot of trust and there's a lot of, we try to argue as little as possible. The truth is I don't really care if it's his idea or my idea. I really don't. If it's his idea, great. That's one less idea I have to come up with. It's not about my ego and it's really about what's best for the work. And then great. I mean, it helps to have one, it helps have one bounce idea. We can bounce ideas off each other and often he'll shoot down my idea, say whatever. I don't really care. It's really about getting the work done.

    Phil Hudson:

    We did a whole episode about writing with partners on the podcast, so go check that out as well.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright, moving on to miscellaneous questions. We got about 10 left, Michael, does that sound good? Sure. We hit those in the next 17 minutes and wrap this up in an hour. Sounds great. Lisa J. Robinson, for a beginning writer, what program do you recommend to write a script that is very user-friendly? Imagine that

    Michael Jamin:

    Right

    Phil Hudson:

    In my mouth. Didn't even know, didn't even know Michael. This question in October would serving today. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Every single television show, movie, everything I've sold, every single one of them have been written in a program called Final Draft. And that is considered to be the industry standard now. So it's the best as far as I'm concerned. Now. They offered me a brand deal a couple months ago, and so I've since done some spots for them and I had no problem doing it because it's not like it's a product that I have. I use the product, so Sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    And you've turned down so many deals from people with different writing software. Even when we first started doing this, people were reaching out. It's like, Hey, we'd love to pay you to talk about our screenwriting software, and you turn them all down.

    Michael Jamin:

    No. So this

    Phil Hudson:

    Is a big

    Michael Jamin:

    Deal, but if you want to use Final Draft, we do have, they gave me a brand deal, so if get on my newsletter, we said, well, there'll be a link on my newsletter and you can click on that link and you can get a discount 25% off on final

    Phil Hudson:

    Draft. Do you want to give them the code? Do you want to

    Michael Jamin:

    Give the I think so we could do the code. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's M jamming 25 I think, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    24 I think.

    Phil Hudson:

    Correct. For it's 24 M jamming 24, but it gives you 25% off your purchase. And I used it and it worked on my upgrade from vinyl draft 12. So you saved me 25 bucks on something I was going to buy anyway.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you can upgrade. You can upgrade at some point you have to continue, you got to upgrade your, so it doesn't fall out of surface and

    Phil Hudson:

    And there's new stuff that come in. There's all kinds of stuff that comes

    Michael Jamin:

    That, yeah, there's bells and whistles, but honestly I've been using Final draft since final draft five. They don't update it every day, every couple of years they improve it.

    Phil Hudson:

    We used a final draft for the collaboration mode in the writer's room.

    Michael Jamin:

    The collaboration is a good feature.

    Phil Hudson:

    And while I was doing this yesterday, this is totally unprompted, I was looking for this. You sent me a bunch of stuff and in 2016, just as I was going to move out here, you were asking me for my resume, like, Hey, there's somebody out here who was interested in getting your resume. And I sent it over and you told me in here, and I'm trying to find the exact words, but it was basically study final draft and know it like the back of your hand. And that was 2016, so that you've been preaching this for a long time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it helps to know that program. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Great. Alright, Mimi, how to find the main idea from a lot of ideas you have in your book. So I'm assuming she's writing a book and she wants to know what the main idea. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    You better figure that out because your story needs to be about one thing everyone wants to throw in the kitchen sink. And it's about this, but it's also about this, but it also has elements of this. It's like, no, no, no, you don't know what your story is. You got a hot mess. You can't kitchen sink it. Your story's about one thing. And if you think it's about two things, congratulations. Now you have a sequel or you have another episode, but your story's about one thing. And if you think I'm making it up, read stories that you've enjoyed and ask yourself the same question. What is this about?

    Phil Hudson:

    What's the difference between an A plot B plot C plot though, if it's only about one thing,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? So an APL will occupy two or three characters, and that's a story that has the most emotional weight, and that's the one that has the most time on screen. You

    Phil Hudson:

    Have, it's usually the leads too though, right? It's your main character.

    Michael Jamin:

    But if you have five leads on your show, then two of them will be in the A story. And then you have to occupy your other characters. So you give them a B story and maybe a C story if you still have to occupy some of them. But they don't carry as much emotional weight often they're just lighter.

    Phil Hudson:

    You don't want 'em sitting in their trailers cashing a check, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you got to pay these people. The audience wants to see them too. So you want to give the audience what they want.

    Phil Hudson:

    Great mental pictures. Love to know an example of a log line on a whiteboard in the writer's room.

    Michael Jamin:

    So a log line might be, okay, we wrote an episode called Fire Choir, and I think the log line was Eddie joins a male

    Phil Hudson:

    Choir acapella group. It was like firefighters, acapella choir

    Michael Jamin:

    To basically recapture the lost fame of his youth. It was something like that. So you knew what the plot was and you also knew what the story was. Oh, he's there to recapture his law. He was famous, whatever. He was in a garage band when he was a kid, and here's the chance to feel like a star again. So that's what it's really about. It's about the fame part

    Phil Hudson:

    And a great episode with one of our favorite characters. Wolf Boykins

    Michael Jamin:

    Wolf. Yes. So played by Paul Soder.

    Phil Hudson:

    Paul Soder says, hi, by the way. Oh, you should have him on the podcast.

    Michael Jamin:

    I should. I'll get him on. That's a good question. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Richard Monroy, can you describe this Greta Gerwig style in more detail? It seems more unstructured and organic.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's not unstructured, it's just the fact that it's definitely not unstructured. It's just that how she comes about finding the structure. So I believe she still hits the same eight points that I'm talking about, but whereas in TV or even in movies, for the most part, you'll think about this before you're ever writing a word. You're figuring out what those story points are. And you might spend weeks or months if it's a movie before you're actually writing. But she doesn't do it that way. But she's Greta Gerwig until you become her, you may want to rethink how you do this, but what she does is she starts writing, oh, I think this is what it's about. And she starts typing the script and she'll say the same thing. I've heard her talk about it. Alright, now I have an 800 page script. Well, we can't shoot an 800 page script. Now she has to go back and throw out 700 pages and figure out what the story is. So it's very inefficient, but it's organic. But again, she can do it. She knows what story is. And by the way, that movie made a billion dollars. It's not for me to say that she's doing it wrong, she's doing it right. It's just that it's just inefficient. And unless you really have a good grasp upon what story structure is like she does, you're probably going to screw it up.

    Phil Hudson:

    This just popped into my mind, one of the best tiktoks I've ever seen was this story. And you've seen 'em before. And it's like everyone told me that I was a loser and I would never make it as an artist. And over the years I've practiced and honed my craft and it shows all these different art. You see their art evolving year over year, and now here I am and look what I've done. And then they show the worst drawing of a horse you've ever seen. And it brought me to tears because mocking this thing, which is the reality, is you can't be a one year in rider or a four year in rider and think that you can write the way someone's been running for 20 years will, you also can't do it, but think you're going to paint or draw the way in one year or two years. The way that Picasso or Van Gogh or anybody else has done who's devoted their life to that craft. It's effectively, I'm hearing you say, is she's earned the right to do things her way and it shows in the box office, and that is not an excuse for you to do it that way, and that's not to say you won't do it that way, but you have to learn structure and process and all of those things form light balance. You have to learn those things before you can make art

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's not easy for her. I saw an interview where she was saying, look, every time I sit down, I'm like, I don't know how to do this it, you're starting from scratch. I feel the same way. It's like, ah, I don't really know how to do this. I do, but I still feel like I don't, it's hard.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yep. I saw that interview too. And that's going back to what we talked about earlier. That's the discipline. It's hard, but she sits down and does it and then she's able to get billion box office

    Michael Jamin:

    And sometimes I'm writing, I'm like, am I saying too much or am I saying too little? Am I taking my audience? Am I insulting their intelligence by saying too much or am I taking their intelligence for granted? That's a hard question.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. EG wants to know what if the notes you receive from the higher ups make the story worse?

    Michael Jamin:

    Often it does. Your goal is to try to give them what they want without making the story too much worse. And what can I tell you? Sometimes they're not writers so often that's the give and take. Often you'll argue with them, you're almost never going to win the argument, and so you have to give them what they want. They're the buyer. And so sometimes people say, sometimes it makes it better too, but people often say, why does TV suck? Well, there's a lot of people involved and a lot of people have opinions and they all want to be heard. I've worked with actors who've had notes who make the story worse. What are you going to do? That's the job. It's it's life.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've talked about this documentary before, but showrunners, which you can find it in a bunch of places, they talk about an interview, a pretty well known actor. I'm blanking on his name, but he talks about how at a certain point, the first year, the showrunner, it's the showrunner story. The second year, it's the showrunner story, the third year, it's kind of a balance between the actors and the showrunner, and then the fourth, it's kind of the actors because they are the characters. And his whole opinion here was, I think famously he got an argument and a heated battle with the showrunner who created the show, and the showrunner got fired because he was the star of the show. And he said, it's my job to protect my character because that's me and who I'm playing. And I was like, yeah, that's just the reality of this. It's none of it's yours.

    Michael Jamin:

    You can't, the funny thing is, yeah, the showrunner hires all the actors. It's their show. They sold it, they created it, but at some point, if there's an argument between the actor, the star and the showrunner, you can always get a new showrunner. The star is on camera, and so the star is going to win that fight nine times out of 10.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Pretty interesting. Go check that out guys. Yeah. Richard Roy asks, if you're an independent writer, do you ever reveal what you're working on in early stages?

    Michael Jamin:

    Some people tell you no. I mean, some people will say, don't reveal your dreams to anybody because people will tell you how stupid it is for you to dream. So why keep it to yourself? That's a personal choice whether you want to share it or not.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. My opinion is screw the haters.

    Michael Jamin:

    Screw the haters. But also, I mean, you can also put it out there and maybe they hold you accountable. Well, now that I went on record saying I'm going to do this, I better do it

    Phil Hudson:

    For a lot of people, a lot of people, that's some strong accountability saying, I'm going to do something. Eagle Boy, 7 1 0 9 0. How strict should we expect prospective studios to be about the page length of a historical drama limited series? I've seen some episode ones that are nearly 80 pages for an hour long show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Listen, the question is who do you think you are? I mean, when you write your script, your script is a writing sample and that's it. Stop thinking about what I'm going to sell it for, how much money I'm going to make. Some people ask me, how much money can you make as a first? Now you're spending the money. Your job first is to write a great script. That's it. One episode. Don't worry about episode 12, writing that one first. Great script is damn hard enough. And it's a calling card. And it's a writing sample. So some of these questions are for people like me, this is a question I might ask a fellow showrunner. I might ask them that question because we are doing, this is stuff that we have to worry about, but you don't have to worry about this.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Big note there too, that this is the big takeaway I've gotten from doing this work with you over the podcast is everything is a writing sample. If it sells, great. If it's good enough to sell, great. But right now, I need to be good enough to give me a job.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, get me a job.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. Matt Sharpe, with the changes to TV writing rooms during the pandemic, do you see Zoom rooms still being a thing post the WGA strike? More to the point, do you still have to live in LA to write in tv?

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of these rooms are still on Zoom. That's probably going to go the way at some point. I don't know. Maybe it's going to get back in person probably sooner than later, but someone made that point. I was going to do a TikTok on social media. What are you talking about? Everything's on Zoom. Okay. But how do you get the job? How do you get the job so that you can be on a show that's on Zoom. Tell me how you do that. Unless you live in la, there's no answer for that because you have to live in la. Sorry. There's a handful of screenwriters who work mostly in features who get to live other places. Maybe they have to fly to LA or maybe they live in New York. I follow Julia York from New York. She lives in York or Yorks, but she's in New York and she's able to make a living out of it somehow, but it's definitely harder. You made a hard career. You're making a hard career. Harder.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Tacoma FD is now streaming on Netflix, so everybody go watch

    Michael Jamin:

    That. Go watch that

    Phil Hudson:

    Talk. Tacoma fd, which is the companion podcast that Kevin and Steve the showrunners do that dropped. And in episode four, I actually was in the cold open and I got put in the cold open. They talk about it on Sarco fna. It was very kind of them to mock me a little bit and poke fun. But what they said is basically what you have said to me all along is if you want to make it in Hollywood, you have to be in LA because they need you Now. It's not two a week from now. And evidence of this is I got cast in the cold open because the actor tested positive for Covid that day. And they said, well, this is a guy protesting pornography, and Phil is a religious dude. Let's get him out here. And then they were like, he came out and he gave this tirade of just Christian anti pornographic stuff. It's like he'd rehearsed it, you could tell. And it was like I'd done acting classes with Jill and with Cynthia. I've done prep work. I've been on set. I've seen how it's done, and I was just able to go and perform in this moment because of all of that prep work. And I only got it because I was on set standing next to the showrunner when he heard that this guy got covid.

    Michael Jamin:

    So two things, half of life is about showing up and two, but also being prepared for your

    Phil Hudson:

    Could imagine, because you could have choked shot the bed. Imagine you could choked shot the bed. And to be fair, I'd been in three other things. I'd been on Tacoma twice as background with no lines, and then they put me on the spot and made me the butt of a joke in the movie quasi. And that was not something I knew about, but they shot three other people just in case, and they picked the funniest person. I just happened to be the funniest person. So had I not done that, I would've not been given this hat back. But they called me in and I pinch hit and I swung and they said I nailed it. Right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It was funny. I was there. I got a huge laugh at the premiere. You're

    Phil Hudson:

    Scene. So yeah, I had no idea. But the point I'm trying to make is you have to be here and then that's how that stuff comes. If you're not, look, it's not going to happen.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Aaron Vaughn Busick looking to develop my understanding of the process of landing the ending of a limited series.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait a minute, hold on. You mean you got a show picked up to series and you want to know how to wrap it up? Is that what the question is?

    Phil Hudson:

    I think the question is, I'm writing a limited series and I'm going to write the whole thing and I don't know how to end it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't worry about it. Can you write a great pilot? And then when they bring it to series, they'll hire people like me and we'll figure it out in the room. Don't worry about it. You're not selling your limited series, you're writing a writing sample.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I think, again, go back and listen to it. I think it was episode 32 or 34 fractals, which we've talked about recently where you talk about how this all kind of mirrors things and then learn story structure and man, I can't imagine writing something without knowing the ending. That seems incredibly

    Michael Jamin:

    Painful, but that's four years. I dunno how long his series is, but I wouldn't know how to end it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Rick Bean, I've been watching Star Trek, Voyager Lost in Space, et cetera. I do stories that take place in space get leniency because they take place in space.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't think so. If it's boring, it's boring. What difference? When these chefs take face in space, it just means the set is a spaceship, right? So what if it was a boat? Same thing. Is it that much of a difference? No. Is

    Phil Hudson:

    Hamlet on the Holodeck? This is a required book from one of my digital media classes, and it talks about basically the future of narrative in cyberspace, and it's basically just saying it's a medium. The story still has to be there. It's Hamlet on the holodeck. It's not whatever on the holodeck.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So

    Phil Hudson:

    Story, story, story, story. Richard Monroy. Again, a lot of movies and TV shows are based on franchises and ips that want to sell product. Is it the screenwriter's job to include ad placement in the script?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, and I disagree that I disagree with that contention. I've never worked on a show where we got a note where, Hey, we're selling products. That's never, no,

    Phil Hudson:

    That's a production thing. It's after. It's like I've seen it in the production office where it's like, okay, the call just came in transpo picking up some Acura's, and we got to feature those in this week's episode because the sales guys in the corporate side are doing

    Michael Jamin:

    That fine. Throw in the background. I don't think about it at all. And Barbie, when that movie Mattel, to their great credit, I bet they saw a lot of Barbies after that, but it was never an infomercial for Barbie. I mean, Greta Gerber got to write it her way, and much of it was anti Barbie.

    Phil Hudson:

    Well, that's a whole thing going on right now. They came out with women in cinema film and TV Barbie set, and now a bunch of people are like, Hey, you missed the mark here, Barbie, you missed the mark.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, they're always going to try to figure out ways to make money, but to me it's never about the product placement. It's always about the story. And if they want to find, you want to throw Pepsi in the background, I don't care.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Fire department coffee is one of those sponsors we have on the show and because it fits in the firehouse and that's who they're selling to, our firefighters who watched the show, and that's something that was worked out well after. We're not writing episodes about fire department coffee. Right, Rob?

    Michael Jamin:

    Because that's not entertaining people. People are not going to be entertaining. People would turn off the show if that were the case.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep, yep. And you see it too. I see it a lot on broadcast TV where it's like, oh, we have to use this feature in the new Toyota to get to where we're going. And it's like, look at us talk and the camera sweeps there and it's so distracting.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you're not fooling anybody, so no,

    Phil Hudson:

    It's like we know what's going on. As you've always said, we got to sell more toilet paper.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I jokingly say that. Yeah, we're here to sell toilet paper, but we don't literally have toilet paper on their show.

    Phil Hudson:

    Rob Gully, how does David Mamet tell a good story when most of his plays are just people talking?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, but it's not just people talking, it's things happening. But anytime you have a stage play, it's not just people talking. Things have to happen. Things have to develop. A character walks on with new information, changes a dynamic. It's not just people talking and that's the problem that people mistake. They think it's just people talking.

    Phil Hudson:

    I've got his bio over here that I read, and it's worth checking out if you think that's what's going. Yeah, you got

    Michael Jamin:

    A good library over there.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's not, yeah, I'm a hoarder. I think that's the problem. Thanks dad. Dad gave me those tendencies. Yeah, as Jim, I would say money in the bank, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Money in the bank.

    Phil Hudson:

    My trauma. My trauma is my money. I lots of checks. Yeah, my hoarding tendencies for my father

    Michael Jamin:

    For sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Is there a percentage to follow for dialogue or scene description while writing a script? What percentage should be what?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well just know that no one likes reading action lines. No one. People often glance over that. I've heard. It's so funny, I happen to just catch another screenwriter say the same exact thing. No one wants to read it. So that's why if you write your script and you could describe a card chase, okay, no one read it because the dialogue is what you want to read. So on paper, it's going to be really boring if you focus on that. If you're going to shoot your movie or your short or whatever, fine. Do it any way you want to do it, but just know you're, if you want it as a writing sample, no one's going to be impressed with your action lines. No one's going to read it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Anyone who's ever done pros before and is getting into screenwriting, which is me, you start off by describing the room and what's in the room. It's almost like a DD Dungeon master, so unnecessary. It's more confusing. It's the brevity of your style is what will help with this. And that's why I said you need to understand the craft. You need to understand structure, but you need to understand your format and

    Michael Jamin:

    Your style. I literally keep action lines like that as short as possible. When we're writing, if we have four words, we try to get it down to three. I mean, because it's literally shorter as better. No one wants to read it.

    Phil Hudson:

    You don't want big blocks of text. And I think Drive is a great script to check out. He barely talks

    Michael Jamin:

    In it,

    Phil Hudson:

    But masterfully done, but he wrote it, directed it. He did the whole thing. It was effectively he was being paid to make his own short film because he'd earned it in the age of streaming. The last question, by the way, just Mason May in the age of streaming and new media, how has the new WGA deal changed the writer's room process?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't think it's changed the writer's room process, but there's some minimums in place in terms of the staff size and the staff makeup in the term, the employment terms. But we'll see how that unfolds. I haven't been on a show since the strike ended, so we'll see literally what that means. But yeah, too soon to say.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Michael, anything you want to add to that one? It's a pretty robust long q and a.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank you. Yeah, it was. Thank you all for all the questions. Please keep coming to those webinars. You'll get a lot out of it. And thank you for listening.

    Phil Hudson:

    Michael, anything we want to talk about coming up with the book coming up?

    Michael Jamin:

    We got stuff coming up. Phil, my book is dropping very soon, a paper orchestra. I don't know when this episode's going to air may already be out. No, probably not. Probably not. But it's coming to soon. If you want to learn more about my book, go to michael jamin.com/book and sign up and it'll be a great read. It's called The Paper Orchestra, and we're going to do a whole podcast episode. We're going to talk about that coming up next, I think.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yep. So we've got that. You've got your course, which we've talked about@michaeljamin.com slash course. You've got your free lesson, michael jamin.com/free. You've got your webinars, which people can sign up for at michael jamin.com/webinar. You only need to sign up once. We'll continue to invite you to them as long as you want to stay on that list. That's all it's used for. Yeah. Anything else you can think of?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it. Get on my newsletter. Lots of good stuff on the newsletter. Michael jamon.com/newsletter. Just go to my website, poke around. There's a lot of free stuff. There's a lot of really good stuff there. Phil built the website so we have him to thank for it.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, me for any problems you have. And then I think hashtag twirly girl on this post. Just if we want to hear, if people want to know about seeing those videos on there, I think

    Michael Jamin:

    That'd be helpful. Yeah, maybe we'll slap up a special page for my commercial work.

    Phil Hudson:

    I think it's worth doing. People need to see you do this because you tell people to do it. Yeah, that's a good idea. Well, Michael, thank you so much.

    Michael Jamin:

    Thank you, Phil, for more, what do we say

    Phil Hudson:

    For more like subscribe,

    Michael Jamin:

    But also, I dunno, keep writing. Keep

    Phil Hudson:

    Writing everything. Keep writing. That's what we want you to do. Keep

    Michael Jamin:

    Writing. Okay. Thanks everyone.

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

    1h 9m | Jan 31, 2024
  • 117 - TikTok Star Mackenzie Barmen

    On this week's episode, I have TikTok Star Mackenzie Barmen. We talk about what she has already accomplished in her very short time in LA, as well as some of the projects she has planned for the future. There is so much more so make sure you tune in.


    Show Notes

    Mackenzie Barmen on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mackenziebarmen/

    Mackenzie Barmen on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mackenziebarmen?lang=en

    Mackenzie Barmen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAP_cFPc2fqGTe50YhOlkDg/videos

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Mackenzie Barman:

    There's a part of me that worries on some level all the time, but then there's a stronger part of me. I think that's pretty delusional in a good way, that I'm like, no, I am certain that I'm supposed to do this, and I just can't falter. I just, I'm doing,

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Well, I'll tell you what I've been talking about. If you've been listening to any number of my podcasts or by social media, I've been saying the same thing a lot. I've been saying, if you are an aspiring whatever, if you're an actor or a writer or performer, put your work out there. Just start doing it, and the more you do it, the better you get. And then my next guest is someone who did just that and is doing that, and I discovered her maybe a year or two ago, and we're going to talk, and she's big. We're going to talk to her about her journey here. Mackenzie Barman, thank you so much for coming here. Lemme tell you when I first found you, and then you'll Yes, please. Then we'll tell you were doing a bit, it was a piece on you were reciting nursery rhymes, and you playing two characters.

    You generally will talk about this, but you generally do two characters have, and you're both, and usually it's kind of a sweet and naive version of you. And then there's kind of a meaner more, not sinister, but cynical. And I guess she puts you in your place. She's a little, and she wants up making you cry a lot. And so the sweet one was talking about nursery rhyme, and the other one was telling you, you're so naive, you have no idea what these nursery rhymes are about. And so that blew up and that's how I found you, and it was really funny. I love

    Mackenzie Barman:

    It. Thank you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, tell me, what is this? So you're huge on TikTok, you have almost 3 million followers, which is

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Almost

    Michael Jamin:

    Huge. I've written for shows that haven't been seen by anywhere near 3 million people. So you have a giant following, but tell me, so why did you start doing this?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, I was an actor in the pandemic, and I didn't really know what to do with myself. And so everyone was on TikTok for fun. That was when TikTok was really blowing up, and I kind of just decided to start making videos and then not taking it seriously at all. But then I was like, well, it gives me a kind of a platform. And no one was really using it like that yet. But I started to see some sketches pop up and I was like, huh, or viral videos, whatever. And then I ended up just at random seeing somebody write about a nursery rhyme in a Facebook status. And I was still using Facebook, which I don't, and I was like, oh. And I learned in that moment what that nursery rhyme meant. So I just on a whim made that first

    Michael Jamin:

    Video. So that was one of your first videos?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, it was one. I did a whole series of those ones. So I did it and I just kind of improvised it. And the next morning I woke up and it had gone kind of viral, and so I made another one, and then I made another one and they kind of just blew up. And so, yeah, it was kind of random.

    Michael Jamin:

    But your intention, it was boredom or was it, you said you wanted to have a platform. What was your goal?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, it was a little bit out of boredom, but it was more so like, well, let me put myself out there. And I used to go to a lot of casting director workshops and when I lived in New York City, and they would always say the same thing when YouTube was really big, make your own web series, put yourself out there, all that stuff. And so that's always been in the back of my mind, and I've always kind of considered myself a multihyphenate. I also shoot and direct and all that stuff, so I was like, I need to do that. So that's why I've always kind of focused on acting, being the primary thing in my videos. Let's get to that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I was going to say, it's really smart. You show a range. I mean, you have, like I said, the sweet side, and then the other side is, and sometimes you play well, you're always playing characters, but to me it's smart. You're showing your range as an actor.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do your reps have to say about all this?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    They love it. I actually got my managers through TikTok, they found me and oh my

    Michael Jamin:

    God, really?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I had already had voiceover representation through my agency, but I didn't have a manager or anything. And I met my manager, Rachel. I loved her right away. And they love it, and they love the content and that it's acting first and the series and all that.

    Michael Jamin:

    So they give you any feedback or No, they just like, we love it.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, not really. They just let me roll with it. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. And then what other opportunities have come from all this?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Gosh, well, one of the coolest things is the relationships that I've built with other creators, especially actor creators. And you just kind of know when you vibe with some people or when I watch certain people, I'm like, I know our brains work the same way. So I seek those people out to become, I love getting to know the people that I admire. It's cool to meet people talent first, and then it's doing a play with somebody. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Know you collaborate with people sometimes. I've seen some of those videos you've done.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I've done a couple. I'm going to be doing more now that I'm in LA and with a lot more people. But that's been a really cool thing that's come from this. Did

    Michael Jamin:

    You start this in New York your first three years? Yeah. Oh, really?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Okay. Yeah, I just moved to LA a few weeks ago. I was in New York

    Michael Jamin:

    City. Oh, when you said you changed your apartments, I assumed you were moved, okay. From in la, but you're Oh, you're, well, welcome to la. Okay. Thank you. Wow, this is a big adjustment for you. So what prompted you to move to LA then?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, my managers are out here, and since TikTok, I've really, it's funny. I was always kind of like, I wanted to really be such a chameleon and not hone in on any one thing. I didn't want to just do comedy. I didn't want to just do drama. But now with TikTok, it's really pushed me more into comedy, and I've found that I really do love it. So out here, there's so many comedy opportunities, and I'm going to be doing part of a live show on December 10th, and just being, I just needed to be out here.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. So how did you get, you've only been here for three minutes, so how did you get this live show already?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Through a friend of mine, actually, through social media. Someone you, oh

    Michael Jamin:

    My God, so smart. I'm always yelling at people. They're like, do I have to be in la? I'm like, well, this is where everyone is. I mean, why would you know? What were you doing? Were you doing a lot of theater in New York?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, so I did a lot of regional theater. I did an off-Broadway musical, and then when the pandemic happened, I was really trying to shift into more TV and film work. I really wanted to be on tv. I still do. That's really my big focus is to be on tv, be in movies. But I was kind of transitioning and doing the casting director workshops and doing all those things, and then the pandemic hit. But yeah, mostly theater. I'm a theater girl

    Michael Jamin:

    Now. Did you study, where have you studied? Did you study in college? Where did, yeah,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I went to a SUNY school and I loved it. I went to SUNY Potsdam in upstate New York, and I studied theater and theater education. I didn't really start doing plays until high school and in high school. So

    Michael Jamin:

    You're from New York?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I'm from New York. From

    Michael Jamin:

    New York, okay.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, born and raised, upstate New York, near Albany. And then, yeah, I moved down to the city to be an actor and do all that. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. You've only been here three weeks and so much has already happened for you already.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    What do you think? Yeah, I'm trying.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you think It's a culture shock. What do you think?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Right now, I'm in my lust for life extrovert phase where I'm like, because a homebody pretty much, I'm an extroverted homebody, so I like to be home a lot. But right now I'm just trying to be out a lot, meet people that I've, and just kind of be really social,

    Michael Jamin:

    Been amazing. How did you get into play? Okay, you moved here. Did you stay with a friend when you found your, how did, because I'm telling people come out. How did you do it? How did

    Mackenzie Barman:

    It was a pain? So I visited last August, and I stayed with one of my managers. Actually, I crashed at her place. I went a couple different places, but she's the best. I love her. And they're in the West Hollywood area, so it's really the only place I know. So that's where I am now. I'm in West Hollywood. And then I looked at a couple apartments when I was here, but I really didn't know where I was. I kind of did, but I don't really know. And then, so I just, Zillow and Trulia, and I ended up finding this apartment on Trulia, and I had a couple of friends come look at it and FaceTime me,

    Michael Jamin:

    And it was good enough.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I was like,

    Michael Jamin:

    And then Did you drive here? You

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Flew here? I drove,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. That's how you do it. Did your car. Wow. Now tell me, when you start posting, these are thought out, these videos you make, how much time do you spend a day making, and how many times do you post a day?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    It's really funny. I usually post once a day at most. I really should try to post once a day at least. It's usually every two or three days. Oh, really? Yeah. But I've been kind of busy, but it was once a day when I was doing the nursery rhymes, but I kind of got a little burned out, I think.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you do get burned out. It's

    Mackenzie Barman:

    A lot. It's a lot. It's a lot. Yeah. But I don't write anything beforehand. I improvise everything, but I kind of write it in my head as I go, and I have a loose idea going into it of if it was a nursery rhyme or something, I would have to research and have the facts ready. I would do that research beforehand and then kind of reference it as I improvised it. But for the character stuff, it's all kind of, they kind of just take over. I take a backseat,

    Michael Jamin:

    But you must edit some stuff out, or no, is everything what you say goes in?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Sometimes if I say something and then I'm like, even if it's improvised, I'm like, huh, you know what? I think I want to tweak that and put the intonation somewhere else, or put a micro look or an eyebrow raise kind of somewhere else. I'll redo it. But most of the time it's my first take, honestly.

    Michael Jamin:

    So, okay. I was going to ask you where you're editing it because you're like this, you're holding it, and you do your one line, and then you turn around and do the other line, and then

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I swap. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you're not even editing it?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, because I shoot in the app, unless it's Snapchat filters, which a couple of my characters are Snapchat filters, in which case I'll film them. It used to be that if I was doing the Snapchat filters, I would just shoot one character as a monologue and then post that. But then with my Danny and Bab series, this new, these characters, I have

    Michael Jamin:

    The ugly babies that you post.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    They're adults. Okay. I just, I'll pull up his filter, shoot his line, save the video, switch the filter, do her response.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm surprised you can't even remember what you just said. You know what I'm saying? With the last character just said,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I don't know. It's just kind of alive in that moment. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you thinking in advance, okay, this is going to do well, or this is just what I want to do today? Do you care?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I do care only because I kind of have to care. I feel like it influences so much. Now your numbers and all that stuff, but I also care because I want people to like it. I want people to genuinely have a response to it that's a little deeper maybe than normal. On TikTok scrolling, which I do get a lot. I'll get people being like, wait, this is actually, so people

    Michael Jamin:

    Are, well, your fans really loved you. I've read some of these comments, and what surprises me is that you interact with pretty much everyone.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I try. I try and they're smart. Okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why do you try?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Because it, it's weird. It's like this weird, I don't really ever go to anyone's profile or whatever, but I can almost hear the comment in my head, and it almost in that brief moment feels like a conversation's actively happening. So I'm bantering with this person, or I don't know. It's just, it's fun to be engaging. And I've had people respond when I do engage and they're like, oh my God, I can't believe you applied. And that to me is just so lovely.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is lovely, but it's so much work on your part.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know, but I sit and scroll a lot. So it's like part of the package. It's like part of producing the video almost is then the engagement after. And I don't do it as much as I used to, but I do. It depends on what mood I'm in.

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder though. I wonder what you're supposed to do when I started, are you supposed to, I'm not even sure when I get, my page is very different from yours. They have questions for me. They want, as opposed to you. I think they're like your fans, they just want to, and so they're

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Just making a commentary on it

    Michael Jamin:

    Or something. Well, they really like your show. They like what? You're the fans. And so I just don't know what the rules are. I don't know if you're supposed to

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Interact yourself. I dunno. And it depends. If somebody does leave a nasty comment or say something mean, which is oddly really rare, don't come from me guys. Don't start. But it's rare. They're pretty good, my, because some people get it bad for some reason, and I don't really get that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, go on. What do you do?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Wait, I've lost my train of thought. What

    Michael Jamin:

    Was it? You said? Some people come after you and they're mean,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    And either I'll completely ignore them or I'll delete it. If it's a needle in a haystack and it's just something mean, I'll delete it. But sometimes I'll respond with sarcasm or I'll make a sarcastic response video, and then it makes it funny. So then it's like, oh, this is actually a joyful experience. But most of the time I'll just ignore them if I do get them.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you don't block 'em, you just ignore them?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. I don't really block anybody unless they're trying to impersonate me, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Even, yeah. Wow. You don't even block the haters.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Not usually. There's been maybe two or three.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, wow. I get more than you do I get more than haters than you?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    They don't really come for me. It's weird. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. But now you're putting yourself out there. It's pretty vulnerable. I mean, it may hit, it may not. It may be funny. It may not be. I mean, was that hard at the beginning for you to do that?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I think the nursery rhyme videos did so well. Those were just one of those weird viral things where every video was getting a million plus and it was every day. It was just crazy. And now it ebbs and flows so much with TikTok. And now I have more normal numbers, I think. But I definitely do get a little anxious about that. Sometimes I'm like, oh gosh, I thought this video would do better. Or I'll post something out of my norm and then I wake up and it's done really well, and I'm like, oh, and then I'll try to do that again, and then it doesn't do as well. So it's like a flash in the pan thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you share it as well on Instagram? I mean, what do you

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I do, yeah. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Immediately. Same content. You just put it up there.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you put it anywhere else?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Not really. I've put a couple on YouTube. I really need to start utilizing the YouTube shorts because I think where it's at and Snapchat, I need to start utilizing more. I think they're up and coming. They're coming back. You think

    Michael Jamin:

    So?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    They're coming back? I think so.

    Michael Jamin:

    How many hours a day or minutes a day do you spend on this?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I would say on average, I probably spend an hour on a video.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? Okay. It's not nothing. It's not nothing.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. It's not nothing. But it's not like I know some people put in and you can tell some of these videos are gorgeous and the editing is, but since it's just me, it's also a lot harder for me to film outside of my hand, setting up the tripod moving and just a lot more to do. So it's just easier for me to

    Michael Jamin:

    Do. Do you have a list of ideas that you keep? And are you running out of ideas?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I always feel like I'm running out of ideas. I always think if a video, especially if a video does really well, I'm like, I'm never going to do this well ever again. But I don't usually keep a list of ideas. Sometimes I'll jot down, I have a bunch of notes, like separate note app ideas. But a lot of the times it's just, if I have the thought, I'll just record it. That's why a lot of the times I look kind of like shit in my videos a little bit, because I film them. Usually my ideas come right in the morning, and so I'll just wake up and film an idea, and then it's, before I've even brushed my teeth or anything, I'm just gross. But it's when, and I just do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you put it up. It's so interesting. I don't know. Is there a fear? Is there any fear associated? It seems like you don't have any fear at all about this.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I feel like I do. I feel there's a constant anxiety of one. I have imposter syndrome pretty intensely.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. And who do you think you are? Do you, you're not, is that

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I don't come from an industry family or any kind of connections like that. So I'm always like, who am I?

    Michael Jamin:

    But they have imposter syndrome too, because their mother and father was, they're famous. So I think they have bigger imposter syndrome than you do. You're

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Self made. I'm learning that. I'm learning everyone deals. There was a great Viola Davis interview where she talked about imposter syndrome, and it was great to hear that.

    Michael Jamin:

    What did she say?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Just that it never goes away and that she was doing, oh gosh, what was the movie she did with Denzel Washington?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, was it Fences?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Fences? Yeah. I think it was about fences. And she was talking about she was playing that part and was like, who am I to do this? It may have been that, but she was just talking about that, and I was like, that's really refreshing, because I think I look through rose colored glasses at these celebs sometimes, and I'm like, oh my God. They're so confident. But we're always seeing the best take, and we're always getting, especially as you get more involved in the industry, you start to see that it's all kind of smoke and mirrors. You just have to fake it.

    Michael Jamin:

    I read an article yesterday about Brian May from Queen. He said he still has some imposter syndrome, and he's Sir Brian May, and he's like, why isn't they call me, sir?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    It's wild. Yeah, it's wild. But that there is fear there. There is that fear of the imposter syndrome of like, oh my gosh, who am I? And it's silly. It's silly. And I know that, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you monetizing TikTok or no? Yeah. You are? Yeah. In the creator fund?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. So they have the creator beta program or program beta, whatever it's called. Great. Is

    Michael Jamin:

    That effective use?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I dunno, maybe, but I don't dunno. Interesting. It's nice because you can only monetize on content over a minute, and most of my content is over a minute, so it really was a good thing for me. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    You'd have to change anything.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you have to have a personal account, not a business account. Right? Isn't

    Mackenzie Barman:

    That what you maybe? Yeah. I don't know. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, in your reps, as I was checking out some of your videos, you are, it's funny that they said this, but they like that you're in character. They like that you're acting. And I was curious, why don't you, or have you thought of, this is me today. I'm not going to act today. This is me. This is, I'm want to table my life. You're not doing that though.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, no. I've done a couple of videos like that. I've probably done 10 or 12, maybe 20. I don't even know how many I have on my page, but where it's me doing something. But I feel like sometimes it feels like I'm always in a bit, and I don't know if that's being an actor or if it's my own neuroses, but if I am in front of a camera, it's kind of hard for me to be just me, unless I'm doing a podcast and talking to somebody. But if it's me looking at myself on video, I'm always going to be like, ha.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Difficult for me sometimes. But I do think about that because there is a part of me that really wants to be more like, wait, okay, so here I am as a person. Get ready with me. As I tell you this story, I thought about doing more of those just because it is fun to do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? But the

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Math is always on. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's more of a you thing. It's so interesting. I wonder, I was going to ask if you feel almost trapped in this persona that you are now?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. Yes and no. No, probably not. I don't think so. I think I play such a variety of characters on my TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:

    Except for yourself. You play characters except

    Mackenzie Barman:

    For you. It's never really me. Definitely the closest one to me. And I think I'm pretty split right down the middle between the dark me and the innocent me in the nursery rhyme videos. And that dynamic is, in a lot of the videos, there's always me and me and whoever else, Chelsea or whoever. But I'm definitely split right in the middle. But if I had to lean, I would definitely lean toward the happy, bubbly me. That's probably the closest to me in any of my videos.

    Michael Jamin:

    But not that you should, I'm just pointing out you're not sharing anything really personal or intimate about yourself or

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, no. In a weird way, I think that it's like, I don't know. There's a part of me that likes, there admires those celebs that you really don't know too much about Florence Pugh or Jennifer Lawrence. They give you glimpses into their life, their personal life. But there always is this level of mystique to them. And not that I'm trying to be mysterious, but I do think that it in the long run might serve me better as an actor to be more private than to be so human. I don't know. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's interesting because it's also like you must know Elise Meyers, because I mean, she's big, but you're up there. I mean, you're not far behind her, and she's more, and it seems like she's doing what she wants to do, but she's more actor and she's more, I guess, personality.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. Yeah. I love Elise, and I don't know her, but I love her because she's so just herself. She might have self-doubt, whatever. I have no idea. Imposter syndrome and stuff, but she appears and she does speak on things, her iss, and she's just so honest about it. And I do love that. I don't know. I just can't do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Well, you're being authentic or I

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Can, but yeah, I don't know. It's just tricky. There is that kind of want to keep this, but who is Mackenzie thing

    Michael Jamin:

    And what surprising opportunities have come from this or partnerships or relationships or whatever.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I'm trying to think. Besides auditions and stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you've gotten direct auditions from this? I

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Have.

    Michael Jamin:

    How did that work?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, a lot of the times I'll go through my reps and then my reps will reach out to me, say, oh, you've been actually personally requested for this.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a big deal.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    It really is. And I've gotten some callback. I've gotten, most of the time, if I audition for projects like that, I'll get a call back and then go whatever, and then it doesn't happen or whatever for whatever reason. But it's happened, yeah, a few times. But a lot of the time too, I don't know. I really don't know how much, because I get auditions through my agents, a normal actor would. So I don't really know on the back end of it how much they're like, oh, here's her video. I don't really know.

    Michael Jamin:

    But do your reps try to sell you like, Hey, she's got 3 million followers on, because that would be good to help sell the show when you book it or whatever.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Oh, I think so. Yeah. I think that's definitely a leverage point. Working on treatments and stuff. There is work that I want to put out and produce and whatever, and I do think that helps and is a big aspect of

    Michael Jamin:

    It. So is that on your resume, like your follower account on your acting resume or no?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I don't dunno. Actually. It might

    Michael Jamin:

    Be it. Should it be right? Shouldn't it be?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think in today's world, yeah, I think it probably should. It probably is. And it probably needs to be updated, actually, now that I'm thinking about it. But yeah, I think it is on there.

    Michael Jamin:

    One thing you don't do, I don't think you do, is sell merch.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, I did one drop and I had a bad experience.

    Michael Jamin:

    What happened

    Mackenzie Barman:

    With doing it? I think my problem is I am not a salesy person. And when I was trying to sell or advertise my merch, those videos did not do well and not a of lot of eyes saw them because the people who would typically see my content, it was so out of the realm of what their algorithm would be that it didn't pop up for 'em and it just didn't do well. And I was like, you know what? And I didn't like working with, so if I think if I did, I would just do it myself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, weren't you doing print on demand? How is it?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I had worked with a merch company. I don't even remember the name of the company actually, but I had worked with a merch company and it was just a quick drop. I think typically if it's a first time, they'll do a limited drop to see how it does and then move

    Michael Jamin:

    On. You work with the merch company. Why don't you just go to some place that print on demand? I have five T-shirts if you want to make 'em one at a time.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, it was kind of near when I was kind first starting out, and it's one of those things where you kind learn as you go approached. They had reached out and they said, Hey, we think McKenzie would be great. And they'd worked with other people. I think that's how it went down, or no, no, that's not true. I think it was my idea to make merch. And then I had, they were recommended because they had worked with some other great people and were really successful. So I think it was just my particular launch didn't do.

    Michael Jamin:

    Didn't do well.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael. If you like my content and I know you do listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not going to spam you, and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michae jamin.com. And now back to what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about.

    What about brand deals? Are you working with people with companies? Yeah.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. I've done some brand deals, which are so fun. I want to do more of them because they're just fun. It kind of gives me a, because a lot of the times there's no guiding light in my videos. It's just what's ever in my head. So when I have a brand to work with, it's fun. I can work around that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Did you hook up onto the backend of TikTok, or, I don't even know they hook you up, or no.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Well, I think a little bit. I'm so bad. I don't really know all the business backend things of TikTok. I've seen some ads and stuff you can apply to be a part of this ad or something, but the pay is really low sometimes, or it's like a share a revenue share system, and I just don't want to be bothered with that. So these ones, they'll come through my management or my agents and be like, really? Hey, they want to work with me. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you have special agents, social media agents, or No, just your acting agents?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. At my agency, they have a department for everything. So I'm working with an agent there. Yeah. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. So interesting.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I'm still learning too. It really is a business. And you'd kind of go to theater school and you're like, okay, yeah, sure, it's a business, but then you're in the world and you're like, oh, this is a business.

    Michael Jamin:

    Alright, so is this your primary income or no?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, kind of. So I do a lot of things. So I also run a video production company. You do? It's very small, but it's called Real You, and it's a demo reel production company for actors. So basically, yes, I work with actors. I was an actor who had a MISHMOSHED demo reel of all these different student films, or you just wouldn't get the footage. So it was always a hassle if you didn't have stuff to put a reel together. And so I basically sit with actors, figure out their branding, their type, whatever, and then write them scenes and then film them. But professionally, I have a real camera and all that good stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how do they find you? These people

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Through my website or there's a business website and stuff. And it's funny because all of the SEO is for New York, and so I need to figure out a way to make everyone know that we're in LA now. So I do that and I do voiceover, so I do commercial and animation. Well, nothing animation yet. I audition a lot, but I'm hoping to book something soon. But a lot of commercial work and radio stuff, so I just have a lot of,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it seems very smart what you're doing. You're also working with, you're meeting actors, you're working with actors, you're making contacts, and you're getting paid for it out here. It's

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Making me a better writer, a better director, a better actor, because I also edit the scenes. Each scene is about a couple minutes long, and so I know when I'm directing them and shooting it, oh, this was helpful in the editing process, or, oh, this was actually difficult.

    Michael Jamin:

    So it's interesting though that you write stuff for them, but you don't write for yourself. You just impro yourself.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I do write some stuff. My tiktoks, I don't write for some reason. I really should maybe try to sit and write something. I think I just write backwards when I'm doing that. But when I'm writing treatments, we're working on TV stuff, then I'll sit and write if it's because a lot of the stuff that I write is for me, but it's also for other people.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Yeah. It's so interesting. Like I said, I thought what you're doing was so smart because you're really showcasing your writing, you're showcasing your acting, and you're, your range, your acting range by playing all these different characters. It just seems like that's exactly what you should be doing. Yeah.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. I'm really trying to build a brand there. And it's nice because it kind of acts like a resume or a reel. I'm like, just go watch my tiktoks and you can see, you can see what I'm all about.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. And what about the partnerships, the other actors that you're working with? Tell me a little bit about what that had led to

    Mackenzie Barman:

    The actors that I shoot for

    Michael Jamin:

    Or that you shoot with or that you collaborate with.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Oh, man. Well, I've only collaborated with a couple people. My friend's Taylor and James, who are content creators, and they're both actors. They're amazing. They live in la. I did a video with them, and I actually shot this morning with Laura Clary. Do you know Laura Clary? She's great. She's so funny. She's like an internet queen. And so when I'm shooting with them, I love working with other people, a theater person. So it's in my soul to have tangible people with me. But most of the time I'm alone. So when I'm working with another actor, it's just the best, especially when I'm just bantering freely with them or, because Laura, for instance, she wrote a script for us, and when I clagged with Taylor and James, we kind of improvised it, had an idea of what it was going to be. It was like a curb situation. We had the bones, but Laura wrote it, and then we kind of improvised on the fly. It was great. I loved it.

    Michael Jamin:

    And they're pretty much want what you want. They want to get more traditional acting on TV and film.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think so, yeah. Well, I know that some of them do. Laura's already established and stuff, but my client actors, they're all either working actors who want to update their reel or want to add a very specific, they need a detective scene, or they need this specific type of scene. They'll come to me. Some of them I've become really good friends with just because I'm like, oh, I love you.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, you've only been in LA three weeks. Are you going to get involved in the theater scene or the improv scene, or what are you going to do?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    So I really want to get into the comedy scene of the character shows and a little bit of standup. I'm going to kind of play on the 10th. I'm going to have a five minute set and this show. So I think I'm just going to totally improvise it and just see what happens. This is my first show. So who caress

    Michael Jamin:

    And where is that going to be?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    That is going to be, oh, I don't know where it's going to be. Actually, I don't,

    Michael Jamin:

    By the time this airs, it'll be too late. But I'm just curious as to,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I don't know. It's called One Star Review. It's like a comedy showcase.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's amazing how quickly you jumped into it, honestly, you jumped into it. I don't,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I always feel like I'm not doing enough. I always feel like I need to be doing, but I probably am fine.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's only been three weeks. Yeah, I, but it seems like, I don't know. I admire you because you're not worried about figuring out. You're just doing it. It'll fall into place. And I think a lot of people are afraid to try and to, yeah,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think that I'm definitely always a little bit afraid. There's always a part of me that is like, oh my gosh, what if I run out of money? What if I don't? I don't really have anyone really to fall back on in that way, any connection. I just don't have, there's no alternative for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you didn't in New York either. I mean your family, but there are upstate New York,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    And it's just really tricky. And I think that there's a part of me that worries on some level all the time, but then there's a stronger part of me. I think that's pretty delusional in a good way, that I'm like, no, I'm certain that I'm supposed to do this, and I just can't falter. This is what I'm doing.

    Michael Jamin:

    When you mean do this, what do you mean? Do what?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Just be an actor and be in this industry. I've always felt that way about myself, and it's weird. It's a weird just knowing, and I don't want to come off pretentious at all about it. I'm not saying, oh my God, I'm so good. It's more of just like a, no, I know this is what I have to do. It's weird.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I'm wondering if you, because you got a giant following. I mean, and it's weird. On TikTok, you have 3 million fans, but on any given day a hundred makes, it doesn't mean 3 million going to see your work. The algorithm is so weird. But I wonder if you have any bigger plans from this or from, what are they then, other than getting cast and having someone else? What else?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, so really, I really, truly, I think that I need to create the vehicle for myself. And I think a lot of people do that and need to do that. I don't think people just, it's rare that you're just discovered or someone's like you. I'm going to cast you. It's just so rare. And so I am definitely being proactive with writing and stuff, and I've written a pilot. I have a treatment for that pilot, and that's the clearest idea I have. I'm also writing a one woman show at the moment, like a stage show. Great. I'm in the early planning stages, early as is. I just had this idea two days ago of a monthly kind of mackenzie and Friends comedy show.

    Michael Jamin:

    What

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Kind of show? I think I want it just to be a variety show of whatever the comedians want to do.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it'll be a stage show.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, stage show. And I would just host it. But also, I have treatments that I'm working on for TV series and movies, and so I'm flushing those out, getting everything in order. I really, really want to pitch in 2024 and be ready for that. And I also want to write,

    It's something, excuse me, that I kind of recently, I think I always have liked that part of the process, but I think in my mind, I always thought to be a writer, you have to sit down and write, there's only one way to do it, and this is how you have to do it. But I'm learning that it's just not that way. I think David Mamet, he paces and he talks out loud before he ever sits down to write. And so I did. I host a podcast that I'm bringing back in January that I had Cola Cola on, and I love them. And I was talking to them and I was saying that, oh, I'm not a writer. And they were like, no, you just do it backwards. And they write on TV shows and all that. And it really changed. They had an effect on me when they said that because it really changed.

    Michael Jamin:

    So what is your intention with the podcast then? You're busy. Well, the

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Podcast. I know, I'm trying, I'm so the podcast, it's called Bullshittery. It had one season, but I did it on TikTok Live, and I did not like that format at all. I thought it would be fun and experimental, and it just felt like a TikTok Live and not an actual podcast. So I'm doing it now in person in January, now that I'm here, and it's like an interview-based podcast, but it's very loose structure and just chatting with different people that are kind of in the industry, our comedians, and just a loy sheet of shit.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're going to rent a studio for that?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I'm going to do it in my apartment. In

    Michael Jamin:

    Your apartment? Yeah. Very good. So you got to get another microphone. Is that what you're going to do? I got to

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Get another mic.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you got to edit it though.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    And I got to edit it. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's work too.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know, I know. And TikTok live was easy because the sound and the video were just there. I really didn't have to edit that. But this I will, because I'm going to up the quality a little bit. I'm going to use a proper camera and do it. Do it right.

    Michael Jamin:

    You can need a couple cameras. You probably, you want two cameras and maybe a master. Right.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I was thinking that of either doing one and just keeping it in a two shot the whole time, which some people do. But also doing the single cam on each side. I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I'm open to suggestions if you have any. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. There are studios that you can go and rent it out and they'll do the whole thing, but you pay by the hour.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know. I, I did that once in la. It was actually a great experience. I love doing it, but I'd rather, because I don't have any sponsors yet. Once I get sponsors, then I can kind of up my,

    Michael Jamin:

    I think you need around 10,000 downloads to get meaningful sponsors. I think I

    Mackenzie Barman:

    So, I think so. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're probably not there yet, but you will be. Don't

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Think. But I'm also a terrible marketer, so when I was doing the podcast before, I posted a couple of videos and I was like, this just is not me. And I need to get past that. I need to just sell my stuff, but I feel guilty.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I bet you people don't even know. I mean, people don't, you've got a giant following. They may not be aware of it. You don't have to market it. You say, oh, by the way, new episode tomorrow. I have

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Some, no, I know. I really just need to do the clips, the podcast clips.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. You'll figure it out.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I'll figure it out. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    You will. I mean, you absolutely will. And maybe you'll do characters talking about your podcast.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know. I do want to do that. I want to do bits. If I have someone to banter with and go into character with, I'll definitely do that. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's amazing how when I moved to la, I was young. I didn't have any of this shit that you got going on. I didn't even occur. I don't know. I wasn't as extroverted and as, I don't think, as confident as you are. So yeah, you're going places.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I'm trying. I really am trying. Well, I know where I have to end up, so I know that I need to get in there.

    Michael Jamin:

    And when you say, and okay, you want to be on tv, you want to be, the problem is not many sitcoms anymore.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know. Well, I really, I am more of a streaming series girl. My ideal dream seriously would be to be a series regular on an hour long drama, drama d kind of a show that would be like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Tell me what show that you absolutely love that you wish you could be part of

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Something,

    Michael Jamin:

    And it doesn't have to be on the air anymore. So

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, there's a couple there, obviously. Huh? Well, I loved Big Little Lies. I love an ensemble like that. The White Lotus. If I could be on the White Lotus, that would be the, honestly, above all, that would be the show I would want to be on right now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Okay.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Succession would've been one that I would've wanted to be on. It has that snarky, realistic element to it that I love. But I also love shows like Search Party or The Comeback. I want to do a mockumentary. I want to play a version of myself. Right. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't, well, you can do a series on TikTok. Just bang something out.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. You already are. You kind of already are.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I kind of already am. And I do try to sprinkle in dramatic elements too sometimes. And I don't know, it's funny. I like to evoke weird reactions from people. I'm laughing, but I'm also upset. I making people feel like that.

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder, I think you're going to get to the point, I don't know, maybe you already are, where your reps, your agent manager, whatever, introduce new clients to you as to spring help springboard them. You really have a big platform. Has that coming? Has that happened yet?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, not yet. I don't know. It's so hard now because it's so forward facing too. I feel like there are some people that just do so well with the pop culture element of being present and being up to date with pop culture, I think is so huge. And I don't really touch upon that too, too much. So there's that small aspect I think that's keeping me from going even bigger. You know what I mean?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, you did a piece where you kind of made fun of Congress when they were doing the TikTok here. Yes.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. I'll mess around with it sometimes if I see a good opportunity and I'll do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you think you need to be more topical?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think from what I see, and this might just be because we all have different worlds now too, which is another thing from my world, it seems like the people that do really well and that become kind of more forward facing are people who lean into pop culture and things that are really trending in that moment. And I feel like I maybe just don't do that enough. Not that it's a bad thing. It's almost intentional maybe. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you studying people wondering, are you trying to emulate other creators? Is that what you mean?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, I don't think I'm trying to emulate any other creators. I honestly think my biggest influences come from people outside of TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:

    Who are they then? Who are your influences?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Like Lisa Kudrow, Tony Collette, actors,

    Michael Jamin:

    Amy Think, Amy Poller,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Amy Poer, the classics. They're like,

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you think of them to get inspiration, or what do you mean when you mention them?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think that's just what comes together in my brain. It is all in there, and then it just all goes away, and then something comes out from it. I don't think I'm actively thinking like, oh, I need to channel Amy Po here, or be, I think the person that I'm closest to unintentionally, but I'll notice it sometimes, is Lisa Kudrow. I think I just love her so much and her isms that I feel like I might imitate her more than I even realized. Watch videos sometimes I'll be like, that was very Lisa cre. I'm like, that moment. But I think I'm developing my unique voice that's a blend of all these people.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the step. And then I was going to say, how do you use art to influence what you do if you do? Yeah.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    How do I use art to influence?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I don't know. I guess what I'm asking is where are you drawing inspiration from? Who would you love to be? And maybe it's Lisa Kra. I know your version of them, but whatever.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I don't really know. I feel like I always have the thought in my brain that I, I'm very conscious about what I'm putting out. Is this too silly that it's dumb? Or is it too serious that I feel like, oh my gosh, I don't even know what really influences my

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, are there videos then that you don't put out? I mean, you shoot and you're like, eh, I'm not putting this up.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Rarely. Most of those are the silly tiktoks of if I see a viral sound or something and I'll just do it, but I won't post it, I'll just do it. I dunno. It feels weird. It feels like I'm breaking some rule with myself to go outside of, and it might be this snobbish thing that I'm doing. It might be like, oh, I need to be this character actor person. And then if I break out of that and I'm just like a real girly girl, I don't know, maybe. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, but that's interesting. I feel there are certain trends and there's certain challenges you could do, and I don't partake in any of that shit. I feel like I'm too old for it, but I also feel like that's just not my brand. I'm not going to do any of that. And I wonder if you feel the same way.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, I'll watch them and I'll enjoy them. Even sometimes I'll do them and I'll record them, and then I've posted a couple some, but most of the time it just feels weird to do it. I feel like I'm like, again, maybe that's that imposter syndrome creeping. I'm like, nobody wants to see me do this. Nobody wants to hear me talk about this or,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, but then, and you might be right, the thing is, you might be right. You might try that. And if you get almost, I dunno, whatever, a low view count, then you're like, I guess they didn't want to hear it then. And it may just be random.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    And then you're in your head like, oh my gosh, if I'm my real self and they don't like it, right? Oh my God, they don't like me, do I? And I think maybe that's part of it too. It's like I am confident when I'm acting because it's not me anymore. It's like it's somebody else. Their fear is gone really of like, well, if you don't like it, it's not me. You don't like, it's them you don't like. But when it's just me being myself, I'm questioning my humor. I'm questioning my relatability. I'm questioning my, am I girly enough? Am I quirky? It's too many thoughts.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I get that. I mean, on the occasions that I'm funny in my video, I'm like, this better be funny. This guy says he's a comedy writer. What's going to throw shade at me? And they'll be, right.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah. But I admire that. And it seems silly when I'm talking about it, it seems like just be yourself. I know people love me, but I don't know. It just feels weird. But I admire so much, and I watch all the videos of people who are just like, story time. I'm going to tell you this time. And I love that. I don't know. I just feel like if I do it, I'll record it and watch it. I'll be like, the story is dumb. Or I don't know, a lot of self-doubt, but it's weird. It's like I can have self-doubt here, but then I'm like, no, this is amazing. Somewhere else.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Okay. And is there any thought, I guess there isn't because you kind of improv this, but I'm always thinking, I better get too, because people got that thumb on and they can scroll so fast. Do you give any thought to that? How fast you're going to get this thing moving? How fast you're going to get to the good part?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, a little bit. Yeah. Because I think sometimes the music helps if people, that's why I always will use sinister music, because people immediately are like, oh, what's going on here? And I think that will compensate for me taking my beats and taking my sweet time with it. Because at the end of the day too, I love storytelling and I love of keeping people engaged with something. So I kind of let the music do that part. But I do think about that, oh, I should really get to it quickly within the first 10, 15 seconds at least. But even then, it's too late.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. I don't know how we're supposed to handle any of this, but again, I guess I want to get back to you before I get to let you go, before you respond. The relationships that you've formed, I guess they are your fans and you correspond with them, whatever.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    And a couple have become friends, a couple of Really, yeah. There's a couple people that I've just messaged and just vibed with you just kind of, most of the time it's like nothing. But do

    Michael Jamin:

    They reach out to you first? Or how does that work?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, there have been a couple people that I noticed will comment a lot, and then I'll kind of randomly respond to dms on Instagram. I respond to a lot of dms, honestly. But then sometimes if there's just, you just know energetically. If they're kind of odd or they're kind of pushy or they say something weird, then I'm like, okay, bye. But sometimes they'll be kind of funny and kind of like bantering. I'm like, huh, okay. There's a girl, Faye, I love her. Shout out Faye. She's from Ireland. And I love people that are not from the United States, too. If you're from England or Ireland or somewhere, I'm going to love you automatically. But she's from Ireland, and we were kind of joking about her teaching me an Irish accent, whatever. So we were like voice memoing back and forth. And then she's the one who now Photoshops my Danny and Babs photos. She's just amazing at it. And she's like, I'll just do it. Don't worry about it. I'm like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, wow.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Isn't that nice? I

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Love her. I love her. Wow.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's such an interesting, I don't know, community, and I wonder how big this thing is. I wonder how many creators. There's a small circle that I seem to be in, and I'm like, is this everybody? Or am I missing about 10 billion of us?

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I think it's both because I feel like it's a small world. Most of the time, the people I know, the other people that I know and influencers are comedic content creators. But then there will be somebody with 12 million followers who I've never seen or heard of before, and I'm like, I did not know you even existed, but you're so famous on the internet. And I'm like, I've never seen you. So it's weird.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you reach out to them, or No, you just follow them or

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Something. Oh, no, I'll just hear about it. Or I'll see a random person pop up on TikTok and go to their profile and they have 12 million. And I'm like, I have never seen you before. It's just odd. It's such

    Michael Jamin:

    An odd thing. There's this woman that I follow, and maybe you've heard of her. She's digging a ton under her house, but

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I want to be on that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I don't know where she lives, but she has a house and she's literally digging. She has a lab coat, and she's pouring concrete and she's digging, and it's just her passion. But I don't know if she's a, I don't think

    Mackenzie Barman:

    She is that legal. Can you do that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And she's not really, I don't think she's a certified structural engineer, but she has all these books and she's reading them. She's like, and this is how I learned how to do the electricity. It's like, oh my God, I just had to read this book. And so she's like a mad scientist. And then she was picked up on Yahoo. Yahoo did an article about her, and then I DMed her. Look at, you're on Yahoo now.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Oh my gosh.

    Michael Jamin:

    There's just so many interesting people doing interesting things. I'm like, wow.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    No, I know. I'm deep on some tiktoks. I love conspiracy talk. I love it. I don't buy into it, but I love it.

    Michael Jamin:

    But see, I don't want to, don't think you want to get too far. You don't want to.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I know.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know. You can keep them from a distance, but you don't want to,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    You start to tread a line where you're like, wait a minute, this is suddenly not where I want to be. That happens.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? Wow. Mackenzie, thank you so much for joining me. What an interesting, again, I have such admiration for what you do and I'm a fan, and there it is. Yeah,

    Mackenzie Barman:

    I mean, you too. I mean, we got to talk shop too at some

    Michael Jamin:

    Point. Well, when we finish this, we will do that, but I want to make sure everyone knows where to find you. So tell everyone what all your handles are.

    Mackenzie Barman:

    Yeah, follow me guys. I'm at Mackenzie Barman everywhere. So I'm

    Michael Jamin:

    Everywhere

    Mackenzie Barman:

    At Mackenzie Barman. I'm mostly on TikTok and Instagram. But follow me on YouTube too, because I'll be there and Snapchat

    Michael Jamin:

    Can find me. I dunno anything about Snap, but alright. Thank you again and don't go anywhere. I'll sign off. I won't. Alright, everyone, another great talk. Be like her. Go follow her. Just put yourself out there and then work on it and you'll get better and better. Okay, everyone, until next week, keep creating.

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

    57m | Jan 24, 2024
  • 116 - Choreographer Phil Wright

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

    Show Notes

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

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

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

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Phil Wright:

    And it's hard because we're working when we're not working, there's no punching and punch out clock with

    Michael Jamin:

    Us.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Phil Wright:

    I've lost, and which I'm trying to get back to. I've lost the concept of just being a consumer.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to. What the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Say teaching children, you were teaching at schools at where? Yeah,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    So that must have been hard. You're going to leave all that behind.

    Phil Wright:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    You wanted a bigger pool or what? It was

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Okay. Well, you're still young, but, but yeah,

    Phil Wright:

    But in artistry world, especially if you're in front of the camera, not behind the camera writing or

    Michael Jamin:

    Directly,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Tell me how

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    So how were you doing that? What were you doing?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    And this, was it Vine or Instagram?

    Phil Wright:

    This was Instagram during the time. This is after Vine.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    My expectations were to get into classrooms, to teach classes.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Absolutely.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Phil Wright:

    Absolutely. See

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Yeah, I mean, well, I'm thinking, I'm talking more of entertainment, not your residential.

    Michael Jamin:

    So these classes are more,

    Phil Wright:

    These are professional

    Michael Jamin:

    Dance classes, classes,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Try. Okay.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    We're past that,

    Michael Jamin:

    Steve. We can't talk about that. I want to know how it works to be No, no,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    So they book, you get paid either way,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Time's. So interesting. So you're almost like a comedian, except you're doing dance.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    So you travel every week. Are you in a different city every

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Well, I would say there's not too many kid teachers out there.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's interesting. You've got this niche for yourself,

    Phil Wright:

    Enormous amount of patience. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting.

    Phil Wright:

    Luckily for me, I'm in a space where I get to do a little bit of everything,

    Michael Jamin:

    Really.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    You got to teach him how to dance.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? Oh, alright. As long as the director's

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Film myself. Yeah. Film myself real quick. It's like an idea. Writing. Oh, an idea. Lemme write that down.

    Michael Jamin:

    And when you're dancing, is it in your head or is it in your body? Where are you remembering these

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    He shapes,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Box. Yeah, right.

    Phil Wright:

    Please. You're more of a commercial. You're trying to sell or promote something.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Phil Wright:

    Different. Yeah. It's much, much, much different.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I see.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Anything else. Interesting. So how

    Phil Wright:

    Are you changing the game from yesterday into tomorrow?

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, so what's your thought on that? How are you doing that?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, I wanted to talk about that. But go, yeah, let's talk about it now then.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    What

    Phil Wright:

    I do, what am I, I'm not dancing anymore. You know what I mean? So I was approached by Irene Drayer, who saw an article that was written on me teachers about parents and students dancing. She said, Hey, I think this is a TV show. I said, lady, you're wasting my time. I got to go teach class. She goes, no, I'm serious. Nine months later, we're in Disney's office. This is when Gary Marsh was head of television and programming at Disney Show. And he actually came to one of my classes and saw my class and was inspired. And nine months later, I was able to sell a TV show, a dance competition show to Disney Channel.

    So let's just put that to the side really quick. My hope was, okay, yes, I'm out. I got something, I sold a show. I don't have to dance anymore, really. You know what I mean? I can be a personality now. I can promote myself in a different fashion. This is another mountain that I can climb and be successful at. Fast forward TV shows goes on. We do not so well, because it was during covid no's watching TV there. Everyone was watching CNN. So our timing was off. And I went back to the drawing board. I went back to teaching. But

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Great on stage,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    So

    Phil Wright:

    That was a big, big, big thing for me.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    That? I mean, ultimately that's the big goal right there. I just want to sell ips,

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that exhausting though? Traveling?

    Phil Wright:

    Oh, so

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    I mean, look, the reason why I'm okay with, it's because I'm so blessed to be able to create

    Michael Jamin:

    My own, to do it

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    I guess you're a YouTuber, right? Are you in that community, that YouTube

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Sure it does. Oh my God,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Man. Really? Yeah. Really.

    Phil Wright:

    And I knock on wood, man, because I'm so lucky.

    Michael Jamin:

    What did your family think of all this when you're starting out?

    Phil Wright:

    My wife is very supportive. I have a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. So they're very young.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I mean your family, your parents, my

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Right after that, you felt there was an exchange.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Man,

    Phil Wright:

    I love people. I love to talk to people. Hell, I invited you to my birthday party. I don't even know who

    Michael Jamin:

    You're, you did. I said, let's get you on my show.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    The moment I started to pour more into myself. That's when I started booking

    Michael Jamin:

    More. What do you mean pour more into yourself?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Nobody,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Hater. It's like the hat that drops down on the stage. Everyone's doing amazing, and the hat drops

    Michael Jamin:

    Down. I

    Phil Wright:

    Wonder who's going to pick up that hat,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Phil Wright:

    The truth is, you're not going to be able to do

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. You delete it, but you don't block 'em. Yeah,

    Phil Wright:

    Because I don't even block 'em, because I've blocked some people before. It's very rare,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    It. Yeah. I don't want to see it. I don't want to see

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    And did that work?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Yeah. No, but you know what? Sometimes it's a blessing in disguise.

    Michael Jamin:

    How's that?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's true.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    I do that sometimes. I'm not as good as you are. I'm not as involved.

    Phil Wright:

    Just fall back. Just fall back and just let, because

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    But then that's when you swipe and delete real.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    But create what?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    And they will do anything for their kids,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? So

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. They're at that age until they get older.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really?

    Phil Wright:

    Yeah, man, that's the tough part. Balancing

    Michael Jamin:

    You mean? Being on the road?

    Phil Wright:

    Being on the road and just not working. And it's hard because we're working when we're not working.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes.

    Phil Wright:

    There's no punching and punch out clock with us.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    It's so hard, bro.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Goes,

    Phil Wright:

    The writers, they're hired for a reason. Okay. Yeah. You're going to make it better.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Was your reason for going for ad-Libbing is you couldn't remember it. Or because

    Phil Wright:

    Memorizing lines are hard.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's hard.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Definitely. That's where I live, my personality,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Keeps

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    And enriching yourself. Yeah. Yeah.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Everything.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Try to. Why?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm going to listen to you

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Have? I don't. 10 million. I dunno.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Views. Oh my God. Wow.

    Phil Wright:

    And it's me standing in the middle of a play saying, baby shark,

    Michael Jamin:

    Isn't that weird?

    Phil Wright:

    Now let's go back.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I'm sure it did

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    You make a good case. No, you make a very compelling case.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    I know

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Obviously.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. Really?

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Phil Wright:

    It's because I'm my own boss and I don't have a union to protect me.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    I do have an agent. I do. I work with a manager who's on a theatrical side.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Okay, so they don't handle this part. No.

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    I

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes,

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    Is

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Guy.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    I'm climbing up the ladder, man. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    You'll

    Phil Wright:

    Absolutely.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    He's awesome.

    Michael Jamin:

    He's awesome. Yeah, he was very sweet. This was

    Phil Wright:

    10, 15 years ago. So legendary, man. So legendary.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Phil Wright:

    Love it.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    59m | Jan 17, 2024
  • Ep 115 - Author Sheila Heti

    On this week's episode, I have author Shelia Heti, book writer of Pure Color, Motherhood, Alphabetical Diaries, and many many more. We talk about how I discovered her writing and why Pure Color meant so much to me. She also explains her writing process and how she approaches a story. There is so much more.

    Show Notes

    Sheila Heti Website: https://www.sheilaheti.com/

    Sheila Heti on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Heti

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Sheila Heti:

    That's what I was thinking.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was work harder.

    Sheila Heti:

    I was like, I got to work harder than any other writer alive.

    Michael Jamin:

    And what did that work look like to you?

    Sheila Heti:

    Just always writing and always not being satisfied and being a real critic of my work and trying to make it better and trying to be more, try to get it to sound and more interesting and figure out what my sentences were and letting myself be bad and repeat myself until I got better. And I don't think that I ever let that go. I'm not sitting here today saying, I work harder than any other writer alive. I do remember having that feeling when I was young. That's what I need to do. That's the only way

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to What the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Michael Jamin:

    What the hell is Michael Jamin talking about today? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm talking about, honestly, one of the greatest, I feel, one of the greatest writers of my generation. Yep, yep. Her name is Sheila Hedy. She's the author of I guess 11 books, including Pure Color, although it's spelled with a U, the Canadian Way, a Garden of Creatures, motherhood, how Should a Person Be? And her forthcoming book, alphabetical Diaries. And she's just an amazing talent. So she's an author, but I don't describe her this way. And by the way, I'm going to talk about Sheila for about 59 minutes, and then at the end I'll let her get a word and then I'll probably cut her off. But I have to give her a good proper introduction. She's really, really that amazing of a writer. So author isn't really the right word. She really is, in my opinion, an artist who paints with words.

    And if you imagine going up to a Van Gogh painting, standing right up next to it, and then you see all these brushstrokes, and then you take a step back and you're like, okay, now I see the patterns of the brushstrokes. And you take a little step back, oh, the patterns form an image. Then another step back, you say, oh, that's a landscape. It really is like that with her writing. She has these images that she paints with words, and then they form bigger thoughts and you pull back and it's really amazing what she does and how she kind of reinvents herself with each piece. And so I'm so excited and honored she for you to join me here so I can really talk more about this with you. Thank you for coming.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, thanks. That introduction made me so happy. Thank you for saying all that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Lemme tell you by the way, how I first discovered you. So I have a daughter, Lola, she's 20, she's a writer, and we trade. I write something we trade. It's really lovely that we get to talk about. And so she's off at school, but she left a book behind and I'm like, all right, what's this book she left behind? Because that way I can read it and we can talk about that, have our book club. And she left Pure Color. And I was like, oh, I like the cover, so I'll take a look at it. And what I didn't realize, it was the perfect book to discover you by because it's book about among other things, about a father's relationship with his daughter. So I text her, I say, I'm reading pure color. She goes, Sheila Hedy's, one of my favorite authors. If I could write anybody, it would be her. I'm like, all right, well, I got to continue reading this. And then a couple of days later, I get to the part and I send her a text. I say, you and me would make a great leaf. And she goes, that's my favorite part. The tree. That's my favorite part.

    You're also an interviewer. You've interviewed some amazing writers. Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, big shots. And so I'm sure as an interviewer, you give a lot of thought to your first question. So I was trying to, I better give a lot of thought to my first question, and I kept coming back to the same one, which is pure color. It's such a big swing. If you were to pitch me this idea, you'd say, I'm going to write a book. It's about a father's relationship with his daughter, but it's also about a woman's unrequited love with her friend, but it's also about the soul and what it means to have a life. I'd say, I don't know, Sheila, that's kind of a big swing. I don't know about this, but you hit it out of the park, you did it. It was beautifully done. And so my first question is, you come up with an idea like this, where do you get the nerve to think that you can actually pull this off? This is really where do you get the nerve to think that, okay, I'm going to do this.

    Sheila Heti:

    The nerve.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's such a big swing. It's like, how do you know you can do this? Do you know what I'm saying?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I don't know that I could do it. So it's nice to hear. I mean, I don't think that you ever think you're going to be able to finish the book that you start, and then when you finish a book, you never think you're ever going to start a new one. That's sort of where I am right now. In that confused place. There's a part of it that always feels like, I dunno how to explain it. I mean, I don't know how to answer that question. It's a weird process. There's no process. There's no system to doing it, and then you hope you did it. You feel good and it feels done, but you dunno how you ever got there.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how do you know you arrived? How do you know when it's time to quit on something? And do you ever quit on something?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. Yeah, A lot. A lot. But usually not like three or four years in, usually 60 pages in or something like that.

    Michael Jamin:

    60

    Sheila Heti:

    Pages is when you start thinking this is not working.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is it a gut feeling? How do you know

    Sheila Heti:

    Your curiosity runs out?

    Michael Jamin:

    Your curiosity runs out. Okay, so you get bored by it yourself?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that what you're saying?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, it's just like, that was fun. That was nice. That was a good couple of weeks. I was really excited. I really thought this was going somewhere. And then it just ends. It's like a relationship. You think, oh, this is so great, I'm going to be with this person. And then after six months you're like,

    Michael Jamin:

    I was kidding myself. But you're writing. I have so much I want to say, it seems like you reinvent yourself with each piece. You know what I'm saying? It's like pure color is very, very different from how should a person be, which I was like, okay, I want to read this. I'm not sure how should a person be, which is extremely different from alphabetical diaries, which is almost like an experiment. And I wonder, do you get pushback from your agent or your publisher? Do they want you to do the same thing? We know it works.

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I think that at this point there's no expectation of that. When I wrote my second book, there was a feeling like that's not the first one. And there was some disappointment and the publisher said, this book doesn't count as your next book. In part, I think it was so different, but I think at this point that's, I mean, I've been publishing for 20 years. That's not really what people say to me anymore.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? What do they say? They say, oh good, this is fresh. And it's more from you.

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I mean, I guess I changed publishers a lot more than other people do. So my publisher of motherhood didn't like pure color, so they rejected it. So I found a different publisher and the publisher of Tickner, my second book didn't like how should a person be? So I found a different publisher. So I think I move around a lot for that reason.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that common with authors? You have to tell me all about this author thing? No, it's not really common.

    Sheila Heti:

    No. Usually you have one publisher and one editor and you just stick with them for a long time. So

    Michael Jamin:

    It seems though you came up through the art. Alright, I have this idea of who you are from reading your books. You have, it's all very personal what you write and which makes it brave. It's brave for a couple of reasons. It's brave because you're being so vulnerable, you're putting yourself out there, but it's also brave. I feel like you're trying something new each time and that could fail. And so that to me is part of what makes your writing so exciting. But do you have any expectation when you're writing something which is so different, do you have an expectation of your reader how you want them to react?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, I want them to get to the end of the book. That's what I want. I want to draw them through, but I don't think I have a feeling like, oh, I want them to be sad on this page and I want them to be curious of this page and feel this way on this page. I just want them to be interested enough to get to the end. So how do I keep that momentum up and how some people conversation, they have long monologues, they're like a monologue, but I'm not because I'm always afraid people are going to lose interest. So I kind of feel like the same with my book. I'm always afraid that somebody's going to lose interest. So I'm always trying to keep it moving,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it's not an emotional reaction. I mean, your writing is very philosophical to me. When I'm reading your work, I feel like maybe this is my theory about what you have, and I'm sure it's not right, but it's that there are passages which I feel are so rich and so smart, and I have so much thought that I have to go back and read it again. So I'm wondering if that's what you're thinking. I want to write something that makes people have to read it again.

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I never think that because a very fast reader, and I don't reread passages and I don't read slowly. So for me, I'm always thinking that people are reading. I'm always imagining the person reading kind of fast,

    Michael Jamin:

    But thought. I mean some of them are really, some of your thoughts are very deep and very profound, and I'm like, I'm not sure if I understood all this. I got to read it again. I mean, don't you think? No.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I guess so. I don't know. I don't really think about that. I don't really think about the person, the reader in that way of like, are they going to have to read this again? Is this going to be hard for them to understand? I think my language is very straightforward. Yeah. I don't know how I think about the reader. I think of myself as the reader. So I'm really writing it so that I like every sentence. I like the way it turns. I like the pictures it makes.

    Michael Jamin:

    But when you say I want them to get to the end, what are you hoping they'll do at the end? Is there any hope or expectation?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, I think especially in pure color, the end is really important. It kind of makes the whole book makes sense. And motherhood too, and maybe less how should a person be and less alphabetical diaries. But I think in some cases, a book, I'm somebody who doesn't always read books to the end. I like getting taste of different author's minds and so on. But I think in the case of some books, you have to read it to the end to really understand the whole, so that's in the case of pure color, why I wanted people to get to the end

    Michael Jamin:

    Because

    Sheila Heti:

    It makes the beginning mean something different. If you've read.

    Michael Jamin:

    It does. I mean it is, and it's about processing grief. So do you outline when you come up with an idea, where do you begin?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, with pure color, I thought I want to write a book about the history of art criticism. So I always start off really far away from where I end up. I always think that I want to write a book of nonfiction and I'm not a good nonfiction writer, so it always ends up being a novel. But I think I usually start off with an, well, in the case of this book, I also started off with this title that I had in my dream. The title was Critics Bayer, BARE. So I was thinking about art criticism and so on, but then I don't know, the books kind of take on their own direction. I never really understood when people said that they had characters that sort of did things that they didn't expect. But I feel like that is true sometimes of the book as a whole. It moves in a direction I didn't expect, so I couldn't outline.

    Michael Jamin:

    You don't outline all. And so does it require you to discover what the story is then once you find it, toss out the stuff that's not the story or

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I basically write way too much and then just cut and try to find the story and move things in different orders and try to find the plot after. I've written a ton of stuff already,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because I know from reading, you come from the art world, you're an artist and I think you hang out with artists, people, so you talk about what art is, is that right or no, do not shatter what I think of now. That's not it

    Sheila Heti:

    Mean and relationships and all that kind of

    Michael Jamin:

    Stuff and relationships. Because I mean, I don't know, it seems like that's why I say you're an artist. You have these conversations even about what art is. And do you draw inspiration from paintings when you approach?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I'm interested in the book as art. I think more than storytelling. I'm interested in the book as sort of an experience that you're undergoing in different way from just the experience of being told a story. I don't think that I'm so interested probably in the things that a lot of other novelists are interested in, character and plot and conflict and all those things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's really, I've heard you say this, it's really, you're writing various forms of you and it's very personal and very intimate. But you also made the distinction in something I read where there's Sheila, the author, then there's Sheila, the character. Is that right?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I mean, in two of the books there's kind of a character that sort of stands in a way for me, but it never really, it doesn't feel like a direct transcription of myself or my life or my thoughts. There's always this feeling of maybe it's like how actors are, there's a part of yourself that goes into the character and there's other parts of yourself that are left out.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so I was going to say, is there stuff about you that you leave out, for example? I mean, how should a person be? Or alphabetical diaries, it feels like we're talking about you, right?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. Well, how should a person be felt? A lot like a character pretty, I was thinking about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. This was like 2005, and Britney Spears and these kind of women in culture that were bad girls and doing things sort of the subject of so much attention and so narcissistic or considered Narcissistic and the Hills, which was a show that I really loved. And sort of thinking about this character in the book being a voice that was somewhere between me and those girls. So there was this, this layering on of personalities, which I'm not thinking about. What does it mean to try to be a celebrity? What does it mean to be one? To be looked at, to idolize oneself? Those are my diaries. So there wasn't a sense of a character in the same way, but because the sentences are separated from one another, I guess it's like I don't feel like I'm telling anybody anything about my life. There's no anecdote in there.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I see that's the thing. And we'll just talk about alphabetical diaries because you're telling with such an, let me tell people what it's, so it's basically an ordinary diary is chronological. This is what I did today and this is tomorrow, whatever. But you grouped your diary by the first letter of each sentence, which organized, and this is again, another high degree of difficulty. This could have easily been gimmicky, but it was a rethinking of what a diary is. And when I say patterns emerge, so for example, when you get to D, these was do not whatever or do this or that. So you hear, okay, so here's a person creating rules for themselves. And then an E was even though, so now they're creating rules, but creating exceptions for these rules, making allowances. And so what you have is, and was so interesting about it, many of these thoughts were contradictory.

    So you're painting a picture of this person, but in one sentence, okay, maybe she's dating this guy. And the next sentence, this other guy, I'm like, well, what's going on here? Then I realize, oh, this is not chronological. And so I'm getting a complete picture of this person, which is so interesting, but, so I know who I guess know who you are, but I don't know who you are today. I know who you are as this arching thing in your life, which is so fricking interesting. And that was where the thought process going into this,

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, mean. So it's like 10 years of diaries and I put it into Excel and the a z function. So it's completely alphabetical first letter of the sentence and then the second letter and the third letter. And it was just, I mean, I guess I wanted to see exactly that. What happens if you look at yourself in that way? Do you see patterns? Do you understand yourself in a different way? Not narratively, but as a collection of themes or Yeah, exactly. That a scientific or sort of a cross section of yourself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Sheila Heti:

    And it worked that way. I think with the diaries, what you do see is, oh, there are sort of these recurring thoughts and these recurring themes and these recurring ways of perceiving the world and perceiving yourself that persists over 10 years. That actually the one self, you think of yourself as this thing that's constantly changing through time and especially a diary gives you that feeling, but then when you do it alphabetical, the self looks like a really static kind of thing in way, no, I'm actually just these few little bubbles of concerns that don't change,

    Michael Jamin:

    That keep recurring when, by the way, when people say everything's been done before everything's been written, it's like, well, you haven't read Sheila Heady. Start reading hers. This is different. This why's so interesting about, that's why I think you're such an amazing writer, and it totally worked. Totally. You get a picture of this person and the recurring themes and recurring worries and, and even one of them, some things that struck me, there was one passage where it's like you go into a bookstore and you're like, isn't this also novels? Isn't it also unimportant? And I'm like, no, if it was, you wouldn't be doing this. So this was just a thought that you had at one point. It's not how you feel. It's how you felt at this one moment, right?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, yeah. Literary fiction. Yeah. Like what a little tiny thing that is.

    Michael Jamin:

    But when people, okay, so now we have this picture of you and when you go do, let's say book signings or whatever, and people come up to you, they must have a parasocial relationship with you where they feel they know you. Your writing is so intimate. And what's your response to that?

    Sheila Heti:

    I think that's nice. I mean, I think that that's kind of the feeling you want people to have is it is your soul or your mind or whatever that you're trying to give people. And so if somebody feels that they know you well, in a certain sense they do. I mean, obviously not that well, they know

    Michael Jamin:

    What you share, but there's, okay, I don't know what kind of music you like. I've read to all this stuff, but I know your insecurities and fears, but I don't know what you think is funny. I don't know what music you like. There's stuff you held back.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, absolutely. But I think that's like, I don't know. I mean, I don't know. People aren't really very weird with me. Ed books or things, people are just pretty nice. And I never get this. I, I've rarely had interactions that feel creepy or weird or presumptuous or any of those things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I'm not even going even that far, but they feel like they must feel like they know you certainly, but they know what you share. They know as much as you share. Right?

    Sheila Heti:

    These

    Michael Jamin:

    Kind of brave, bold decisions you make to create all this stuff. Is there a writer whose work you emulated in the beginning? Where do you begin to come up with this stuff? Was there someone who you wanted to write? Just like,

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, I really loved Dostoevsky and Kafka and the heavy hitters. Yeah, I mean, I just loved all the greatest writers,

    Michael Jamin:

    But did you want to write like them?

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I mean, I think the closest I ever felt like I wanted to write a writer was, do you know Jane Bowles? BOW Elliot? She was married to Paul Bulls.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, to me, much of your work felt a little bit like it. Tall Cals, some of it works. Some of it was very ethereal and meditative.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I mean, I think Jane Bowles was the only one that I really felt myself imitating her sentences. She wrote a book called Two Serious Ladies, which I still really love. That was the only time when I felt like I was falling into somebody else's cadences and rhythms and so on. And

    Michael Jamin:

    What happened when

    Sheila Heti:

    That was with my first book, the Middle Stories, and then the second book was written was so different. The second book I wrote was in such a different style that left me, but maybe there's still a way in which I still do. I think she's probably the writer that I write the most, if anyone. But I mean, she only wrote one book. So it's a very different kind of life than the one that I've had. No, I'm just always just trying to keep myself interested. So I think that I don't ever want to, I a very, I just want it to be fun for me. And so if I was to write the same book again, it wouldn't be fun. And books take five years to Write, or this diary book took more than 10 years to edit. So by the time I'm done a book, no, I'm such a different person than I was in some way when I started, even though I just said that you don't really change, but there's a way in which you get tired of thinking about the same things over,

    Michael Jamin:

    But then you think it would be hard to not constantly tinker with it. Isn't that part of the problem?

    Sheila Heti:

    I like constantly tinkering with it. That's fun.

    Michael Jamin:

    But then you have to let go. But how do you let go of it though?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, at a certain point you start making it worse. You're like, oh, I think I'm starting to make it worse. You start to become self-conscious, and then you start to want to correct it, and then you start to want it to sort of be the person that you are today rather than the person you were five years ago. But you've got to honor the person that was five years ago that started the book. So you can't carry it on so far that you become, you've changed so much that now you're a critic of the book that's going to destroy the book.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. See, that's so interesting. That's something I think about quite a bit. Yeah. How do I just let it go? And that someone else, it's funny when you talk about the language, because that's one thing that struck me about pure color. Your sentences are written in very, they're very, it's kind of brief, very, I dunno what the best way to describe it, but it's almost terse. And to be honest, if you had told, as I'm reading this, I could have thought this was said 150 years ago, and then occasionally you say you make a reference to something modern Google, and I'm like, oh, wait a minute, this takes space today. So that was a conscious, obviously decision that you made to kind of give it a timelessness.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I always kind of want that because I think that's my hope for a book is that it could be understood in a hundred years or 500 years, or you need Plato today, you want to write something that people could understand in a thousand years.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you know what I'm saying, the language, it almost felt, but your language is different though, in an alphabetical diary. Well, obviously since it's a diary, but man, so to me it's like you're not doing, like I said, you're not doing the same thing. I don't know, it could have been two different authors. That's what I'm saying. I guess it felt like two very different pieces and it was just wonderful. But when you say, so what then? Because like I said, you have these art friends, I have this whole life for you, you have these because you went to art, you studied art, and you hang out with a bunch of artists and you talk about art, and I want to know what these conversations are because we don't talk about art and TV writing. No one, we don't think we're doing art, but I feel like that's what you guys are doing. So do you talk about what the whole point of art is?

    Sheila Heti:

    I think I did when I was younger,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? Then you grew

    Sheila Heti:

    Out of it when I was in my twenties. And then you kind of figure that out for yourself in some way. Well, then you have your crises and whatever, and then you got to think about it and talk about it again. But no, I think these days what I talk about with my friends is just whatever the specific project is, whatever problems you're having with a specific thing, mostly complaining, the difficulty of not being able to pull it off or feeling like you are stuck or you're never going to be able to write it. I have these three other writers that I share my work with we're meeting tomorrow. So before I got on the call with you, I just sent something off to them, and tomorrow we're just going to have read each other's things and talk about how we feel about it. But for me, I'm just like, I think what I need at this point from them is reassurance, honestly.

    Michael Jamin:

    Reassurance,

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. Because you're so lost in the middle and you don't know what you're communicating and if you're communicating anything, and is it worth continuing? Should it just all be thrown out? There's so much doubt

    Michael Jamin:

    Because it's so very humble of you. You're a master writer, and yet you make it sound like you're still a student. You know what I'm saying?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, you think, I don't know if it's the same for you, but don't you think you're always kind of a student? Because

    Michael Jamin:

    Whenever you start, yeah, yeah. Look, yes. When every time you're looking at that blank page, I dunno how to do any of this.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, exactly. You always feel like you're back at square one somehow.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Sheila Heti:

    Although now, not exactly square one. I've been starting this new book this week, and again, it may get to 60 pages and fall away from me, but now I have a different feeling that I had when I was in my early twenties. The feeling I have now is like, oh, I did that. Oh, I've had that thought before. Oh, I've written senses in that way before. What I'm trying to do now is none of the things that I've already done. They just, and so, yeah, where is this part of myself that I haven't written from yet? So that's kind where I'm now. So it's not really starting from square one, but it's still just as hard,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? Because you feel like you've said everything you had to say or done everything you wanted. Is that what it is? Or,

    Sheila Heti:

    I know what my sentences sound like, so I feel like, oh, I'm not surprised by that sentence. That sounds like a sentence that my, I feel like I'm, you get this rhythm that is very pleasurable to write if the sentences have a rhythm, but now I'm just like, I'm tired of that rhythm. That rhythm can only give me one kind of sentence or one kind of thought. So I'm trying to figure out what else is there inside.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I imagine that's hard for someone. Basically, you're a physician who's made a hit and another hit, and what if I don't do it again? How do I do it differently? Or how do I reinvent myself now?

    Sheila Heti:

    And even just what's the meaning in this for me now? With every book, there's a different phase of life you're at. And I'm 46 now, so I dunno how old you are.

    Michael Jamin:

    How dare you? I'm 53.

    Sheila Heti:

    1. Yeah, I figured you were just a few years older than me. So it's a very different age to write from because you are not hungry in the same way you were when you were 23 and you were both in houses. You have accomplished certain things. And so what's the deepest part of yourself that still needs to do this when you're 23? Every part of yourself needs to do it in this extreme way. You've got to make a life for yourself. You've got to prove to yourself, you can do it. You've got to make money, you've got to all this kind of stuff. So what's the place at 46 or 53 that you're writing from that is just as vital and urgent as that place at 23?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I think actually that's why I started changing mediums. I've kind of done this headcount thing. What else can I do?

    Sheila Heti:

    So the essay, the podcast? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, most of the essays, the essay started the whole thing. It was like, it's funny, in your book or a couple of times, you mentioned, should I go to LA? And I'm thinking, why does she want to go to la? What was that about? What's

    Sheila Heti:

    That about? I've got family there. When I was a little kid, my parents used to put me on a plane. I was five years old and I'd be sent to LA and I had relatives and I would stay with them. And it was just, to me, it's such happy childhood memories and I just love Los Angeles. Whenever I go back, I think this is a place in the world besides Toronto that I'd most like to live.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? So different.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I just love it. Yeah, so I love everything. I love it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God, I don't what, I've been to Toronto. I had, well, then I

    Sheila Heti:

    Remember that LA's in America, and then I like, no, maybe not.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, good point. Good point. So there's something else. I remember what I wanted, what I want to say. You had in one book, it was like, you're lamenting. I hope I never have to teach. And now you're teaching, right?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, just for this one year.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. What was that about that decision?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, I love teaching and I wanted the money because I didn't want to have to feel like I had to rush to start a new book. So I just wanted a year where I didn't have to have that anxiety of what's my next book going to be like, I've got to start. I've got to get a certain ways in and then sell it. And I like teaching a lot, and I just felt excited about the idea, but it was supposed to be a two year position, and now I've just changed it to a one year position. It becomes too much, even one day. And teaching a week is like, there's no point to write

    Michael Jamin:

    Because you have to read all the whatever they write on the side. You're saying, well,

    Sheila Heti:

    I've got to commute two hours to get there, and then two hours home, and then, I don't know. And then your brain just sort of stays in that university space with your students for three or four days, and then you have two days where you're not with them and then you go back to school.

    Michael Jamin:

    So what does your life really look like? Your writing life? What is it like to be an author on a dayday basis?

    Sheila Heti:

    What your life is all day long? You're either writing emails or you're writing writing. Probably spend more time writing emails and doing correspondence and businessy stuff than writing. Writing, and then all the life stuff, walking the dog, doing household chores. I don't have a very regimented existence, but I just sitting in bed and being on my computer, that's sort of my

    Michael Jamin:

    Favorite. That's where you write on laptop. Oh my God, my back would kill me. But something else you said, because I really was turning to you for answers as I was reading it. I'm like, she's got the answers. And you said, and you're like, I don't have the answers, but no, I'm like, no, she's got the answers. And you said, art must have at one point, art must have humor. I think you said that in How should a person be? And I was like, really? That's what you guys think. There has to be humor in art.

    Sheila Heti:

    Oh yeah. You got to know where the funny is. Yeah, I think,

    Michael Jamin:

    Sure. I don't

    Sheila Heti:

    Understand. It's the two. I read your essay. It was very funny.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But thank you. But I have an intention. I have an intention when I write, but I don't understand why you think there has to be humor. Alright. Why do you think there has to be humor it in art?

    Sheila Heti:

    Humor's such a part of life. I mean, if you don't have humor in life or art, you're missing a huge part of the picture. I mean, it's all, it's just the absurdity of being a human. It's,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, see the thing as a sitcom writer, look, I'm grateful to have made a living as a sitcom writer. It's what I wanted to do, but it's not like anyone looks at what we do. It's like, oh, that's high art. They go, it's kind of mostly, people think it's kind of base. And I think, and when you think about even at the Oscars, when they're fitting the best picture, it's never a comedy. It's that the comedies are not important enough. And so that's why I had this feeling like, well, can humor be an art? Can it be, I

    Sheila Heti:

    Mean, I think great art always has humor in it, but it's the same thing in literature. The funny writers are not as respected as the serious ones, but I think that they're wrong. I mean, Kurt Vonnegut, I love Kurt Vonnegut. He's extremely funny, but he's never had the same status as somebody like, I dunno, Don DeLillo or whatever, because he's not serious enough. But I think it's a very, who are the people that are making that judgment? That the solemn writers that have no humor are the best writers. They're just idiots. I mean, it's not the case.

    Michael Jamin:

    I gave my manuscript to one publisher. I was rejected from him, and he wrote, he was very kind. He goes, oh, this book really works. I like it, but it's not high literature. And we do high literature here. And I was like, how dare you? I was like, well, I totally agree. It's not high literature. Not that I could write high literature, but I didn't set out to do. But there was still that sting of what you're doing is not important because it's funny.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. That's a stupid editor.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, he got the last laugh. Wait a minute, wait a minute. But yeah, I don't know. Okay. But is humor in painting and humor in all art? I mean,

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, levity. Well, just that scent, that aspect of life. That is the laugh that is that bubbling up laughing. Yeah. I mean, I think that that's joy. Joy and humor are very closely connected. And a work of art without humor is a work of art without joy

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Sheila Heti:

    Wants to take that in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Then what is art? I'm honest here. You learned this when you're 20 and I haven't learned it yet. So what is art to you and what's the difference between good art and bad art?

    Sheila Heti:

    It's a reflection of the human experience. It's like an expression of what it feels like to be a human, that a human is making for another human.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, so it's this interpretation of what you feel, what it means to be human, is that right?

    Sheila Heti:

    It's an expression of what you feel like it means to be human.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Okay. And then how do you

    Sheila Heti:

    That in an object?

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how do you know if it's good art or bad art?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, there's no consensus, right? You liked pure color, but a lot of people don't. There's just no consensus because it touched you, but somebody else thinks it's the worst book they've ever read, and that's okay. I mean, I think that that's right. We can't all speak to each other. We're not all here for all of each other.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, just because you mentioned that it was so touching this one moment, it really hit me where you explain how you felt the father, how his love for his daughter was so much that it put pressure on her not to have her life because her life was so important to him. And I thought, oh crap, I hope I'm not doing that because my feeling is no, it's just pure love. It's an expression of pure love. But from the other side, I can see that.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. Yeah. I think that that's what I was thinking about in that book. That's the sort of tragedy of

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes,

    Sheila Heti:

    Families and friendships and so on, that we want to love each other, but we can't in the way that we want to.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Michael Jamin:

    It was just so beautiful to express that as two souls stuck in a leaf, where is this coming from? It felt completely appropriate, but also almost out of the blue. And that's what was so amazing about that whole section. Thanks.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I don't even remember where that idea came to me. I don't know if you feel like this with your writing, but sometimes you remember exactly where an idea came from. You can even picture yourself being right there having it, and sometimes you almost have anesia around it,

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? And what about the part? There was so many lovely moments of this woman working in a lamp store, and she has to turn the lamps on every single lamp on, and it's almost like, I got to do this, but there's her counterpart who has to turn the lamps off at the end of the day, something equally horrible. It was really funny, and it was just, I don't know. Did you ever work in a lamp store?

    Sheila Heti:

    No. No. But there was this lamp store that I used to pass on the way to one of my first jobs, and I would look in the window, and I did eventually buy a lamp from that store with all the money I had in the world. But I never worked in a lamp store, but I was obsessed with this lamp. I really thought it was going to change my life.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you still have it?

    Sheila Heti:

    No. It got broken in a

    Michael Jamin:

    Fit of

    Sheila Heti:

    Rage situation. Yeah, it got broken rage.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was stuck on a paragraph I wrote against this important list. It

    Sheila Heti:

    Was in the box on the floor, and somebody stepped on it. And anyway, it's sad, but whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. But alright. So much of it felt like, yeah. Okay. So it was a version of you that wasn't exactly, but where was this coming from? You said you had a point you were making. I don't remember

    Sheila Heti:

    Where, because at some parts you remember where they came from and some parts you just

    Michael Jamin:

    Kind of pull out of, pull

    Sheila Heti:

    Out of. You don't remember how they came about?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I don't know. I always feel like when I'm writing, if there's an idea that has a strong emotional reaction, like, okay, maybe there's something there.

    Sheila Heti:

    A strong emotional reaction in you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. In me. I have a terrible memory, but if I remember something, why do I remember it? There must be a reason.

    Sheila Heti:

    You have a terrible memory too,

    Michael Jamin:

    And you wouldn't know it, but I guess you document everything in your diary.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, the diary is usually not about things that happened. It's more about the feelings that I'm having in the moment that I'm writing it. I wish that my diary was more about things that happened

    Michael Jamin:

    Really Well, you get to decide what you put in your diary.

    Sheila Heti:

    I know usually when one writes a diary, it's because you're in a moment of high emotion that you need to get your feelings out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you write every day in your diary?

    Sheila Heti:

    No. No, no. Just when I need to. And I don't even really do it anymore now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. Yeah, there is. There's something else you said about it. Yeah. There's so many moments that were so interesting. Like you said at one point that the men you date don't understand you. I'm like, well, don't they read your book? I mean, why don't you just give 'em your book and didn't understand you?

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I mean, I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    You don't know. We'll get back to, I don't

    Sheila Heti:

    Even think that it's really all Yeah, like you were saying earlier, it's not really you. It's just an expression of a corner of you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I don't know. But do you really feel that? I mean, I'm going back and forth. You'll see I contradict myself, but what you write is so to me, it feels so personal. I don't know how it cannot be you.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, I don't know. When I'm working on it, it doesn't feel like me. It just feels like writing on a page. It feels very plastic. I don't feel like it's me.

    Michael Jamin:

    So there's no, wow, because there's no inhibition there because it's very intimate. There's no inhibition. You don't feel to be judged. This is just a character named Sheila, by the way.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, I just don't think about it. Just I have this, that part of my brain is not awake when I'm editing or writing that people that are going to think it's me

    Michael Jamin:

    Or whatever. Well, that's bold. That really is bold because the notion that you're not worried about being judged, you're not worrying about expressing

    Sheila Heti:

    Yourself. I worry about being judged for an email that I send. That's a stupid email much more than I ever worry about a book.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? Really? Yeah. Your book is permanent and it's your art.

    Sheila Heti:

    But I have so much control over it. I have so much. I take so much time with it. It's not spontaneous. It's really thought through. So I'm not, and it's art. It's not me. An email is me. A book is not, it's its own thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. How should a person be? I mean, this to me felt like this is your struggle. It was really interesting when it was a narrative struggle about a woman trying to find herself in a brief period of time. And I felt like, no, this is you. Right?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, it doesn't really feel like that. No.

    Michael Jamin:

    Alright. This interview's over. That's why I think when I said, you're brave, I think that's what makes you brave, is that this fearlessness of I can put it out there and I'm not really worried about it.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I just don't care. I care about being judged as a human in the world, as a person, but not through my books, not through your I care about it and Oh, she's wearing a really stupid outfit. I care about it in all those ways that everybody does, but not via the books. Not as the books as a portal to judgment about me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Wow. I I don't know if you know how profound that is. To me. It really is. Yeah, because it gives you so much freedom to write then.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I mean, but fiction is different from essays. I think with essays you do feel like it's you, but with novels you don't. Or I don't,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. But I guess, and I didn't really know this term, it's auto nonfiction, which I guess is this term. I was not familiar with

    Sheila Heti:

    Auto fiction. They call it

    Michael Jamin:

    Auto fiction. That's what I meant. Auto fiction. Yeah. And so

    Sheila Heti:

    I like auto nonfiction though. I think that's how it should start to be called.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? Yeah. Just by my dumbest. Yeah. But when you call it auto itself, so I don't know.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I didn't give it that term. The critics give it that term, auto fiction, but all writing is auto fiction. All writing comes from yourself. It's a really silly term, but I mean, they guess they use it for people that write characters that have their name. Which again, that's only, and how should a person be? Does the character have my name? None of the other books.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, okay, but Well, the

    Sheila Heti:

    Diaries, obviously

    Michael Jamin:

    The diaries, but also I also know that pure color was taken from your life. I mean, we know that in

    Sheila Heti:

    A lot of

    Michael Jamin:

    Ways. So I also want to know about this, and I know I'm concentrating on how should person, well, on both of 'em I guess. But this play that you were commissioned to write, how does that work that you were tortured by throughout the whole book? You felt like you couldn't come up with anything good. How does that come about? So a local theater said, will you write us a play?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it was their idea.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. Yeah. They commissioned a play for me,

    Michael Jamin:

    But they said, I mean, this is what we want it to be about. Or they said right about

    Sheila Heti:

    It was a feminist theater company, and they said it could be about anything as long as it was about women in it. And I really had the hardest time. I mean, I wrote a play, I'm sure you experienced this in Hollywood, and then there was a lot of notes. And in theater we call it dramaturgy. And I got so confused and I just couldn't make the play better from the notes. And it was just this torture, because when you're writing a book, or at least in my case, editors aren't like that. They're not giving you their notes to make the book something other than what you want it to be. But in theater, what's this character's motivation? Why does this happen here? There was just so much feedback and I just lost my sense of what I liked about it and what it was.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how did you find it ultimately? You were happy with it, weren't you?

    Sheila Heti:

    Ultimately, I just, when it got put on a couple years after, how should a person be was published, it was just my original draft. So I never ended up editing it according to any of the notes in the end.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. So you won that battle?

    Sheila Heti:

    I guess so you did. It wasn't them who put it on. It was some other, some kid.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh,

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, he's not a kid anymore, but he seemed like a kid at the time.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you also do something called trampoline hall, which struck me as really fun. It seems like you're just part of this artwork. You make art. Well, I don't care what it is. Let's just do something weird and interesting until trampoline hall, which I love the premise of it's you say people deliver lectures on subjects they don't know anything about.

    Sheila Heti:

    Is that what it's, it's not their area of professional expertise. So they can do, oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    So they are experts.

    Sheila Heti:

    They can do research for their talk. It's just that it can't be their professional expertise.

    Michael Jamin:

    So they're not talking out of the rests. They're talking to about if they know No. Oh, okay.

    Sheila Heti:

    They do the research. Yeah. And then there's, so the talk lasts about 15 minutes, and then there's a q and a, and then So there's three of those and night, and yeah, it's been running once a month in Toronto since December, 2000 or 2001. Them. I haven't been involved in it. You them? Oh, no, no. I mean, I started it, and my friend Misha Goberman is and was the host, but after about three or four years, I left around 2005 or so. But he still keeps it going. So now I used to pick the three people every month, and I just used to, when I was in my twenties, I had crushes on people all the time. And it was fascinated by people in such a way that it was a way of having these friendships where I would go out with them and talk about what their talk was going to be about, and then I'd see them on stage.

    And it was just a way of being with people. My life is not really like that anymore, where I'm coming into contact with so many people that I just have to have a show and put them on stage. I find 'em so fascinating. And the culture's changed because again, in the early two thousands, there weren't, the internet wasn't what it is. And I just felt like there's all these smart people with all these interesting things to say, and nobody's paying any attention to them. And here's a venue for them. You obviously don't need that, a barroom lecture series for people to have a voice in this culture anymore. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. That's right. Now you deal with students, young people. And so what's your take then, as an artist, as you deal with people of this younger generation? What do you see?

    Sheila Heti:

    I don't know. I mean, I only see them through a very narrow lens. You don't show your teacher that much of your life. I see them sitting in a classroom for two and a half hours once a week. I've only done it for seven weeks.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you read their work or you pretend to?

    Sheila Heti:

    I read it. There's not that much. I mean, I don't know. You can't really generalize about a generation. Every person's different.

    Michael Jamin:

    One of the stories in my book is about that. It was about me trying to, being in a creative writing class, trying to impress my teacher, and just having no idea how to write, just none. And feeling complete. You're smiling. You can relate or you see it.

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, because I'm smiling, because yeah, that's how people feel. And it's sort of a failure of the way that creative writing is taught that makes a person feel like they can't write

    Michael Jamin:

    Well. Okay. So what's the first thing you tell? What's the most important thing you tell your students then maybe?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, I try to show them all these examples of, so-called bad writing and stuff that's intentionally boring and that's badly put together because I just think it's a better route. You're more likely to become a good writer if you are trying to do something bad than if you're trying to do something good. If you're reading the greatest writers and you're trying to emulate them, and you're all intimidated and blocked and nervous, and you're trying to write in a style that has nothing to do with yourself.

    Michael Jamin:

    So then how does showing them something bad help? Do you say, go ahead and write or write. What's the point of showing them something

    Sheila Heti:

    Bad? I don't want 'em to try to write. Well

    Michael Jamin:

    Write Well, you don't, but you don't want 'em to write schlocky or poorly written stuff either.

    Sheila Heti:

    I'd rather have them write basic. I don't know. I just think when you're trying to impress, when you're writing to try to impress somebody, it's just you're starting off on completely the wrong foot. I want them their writing. So for example, in this class, one of the first experiments we did was I told them to go into their messages, their text messages, threads, and to copy out every single text message that they'd sent and put that in a document and make it a long sort of monologue, because that is actually what they write. That is what they're writing. You got to start from what you're actually saying and what you're actually writing, not this imaginary idea of what writing is.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right, right. That's exactly right. So there's this thought of what writing should be and what writing, how get, I guess, how did you get over that, especially when you were writing your favorite authors were the greats. How did you find the confidence to have your own voice, I guess?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, when I was young, when I was a teenager, I read all the Paris Review interviews, and I just got the sense like, oh, there's no way to do it no one way. Everyone has their own way. Faulkner has his way, and Dorothy Parker has her way, and John au has his way, and there's just no consensus. And so you just have to figure out your own way. That's what they all did. I just sort of saw that's what each one of them had done.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, that's where I struggled with, and you're getting my therapist now and my creative writing teacher when I was starting to write this book. Because as a TV writer, my job is not to have a voice. My job is to emulate the voice of the show or the characters. And I'm a copy. I'm a mimic. That's what I do. And that's what I've been doing for 27 years. And then to write, this was an experiment to me. What would it be like to write just whatever I want to write with no notes, no one telling me what to do. And it was very scary in the beginning. And it was very, I loved David Sari. How can I do him? And so I wrote a couple of pieces. I studied him, I read all, I've studied books over and over again. He was so entertaining. He writes so beautifully. And I read it over and over again, and I wrote my first pieces, almost like I was doing him. And I felt, oh, this is good. And then I let it sit for a couple of weeks, and then I read it with fresh eyes. And this is terrible. It sounds like someone pretending to be him is terrible.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, yeah. But that's a stage that you still probably learned a bunch by doing that, maybe about structure or about something.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, not that I learned that I felt like I was a pretender, but my thought was, well, he's doing it. He's successful. I write and now I perform my pieces as well, which is what, and I tore a little bit, and I thought, well, if it works for him, why reinvent the wheels? He's obviously got a market. And then I realized I had to come to the conclusion that it was almost heartbreaking. I can never write like him. I can't, no matter much. I want to, it'll never happen. And then I had to let go of that, and then had to come to the more, even a larger, heartbreaking realization was like, oh, I have to write me. And who the hell is that?

    Sheila Heti:

    And how did you find it?

    Michael Jamin:

    It was a lot of just drafts after draft. And then the problem, and this is something else, but I find some of the earlier pieces are very different from the later pieces. And I've tempted to go back and change the earlier ones. But like you're saying, I'm also tempted. I feel like I can't, can't, it's time to let 'em go.

    Sheila Heti:

    Right. That was that person.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it's all in the same book, and it felt like, well, should there be any kind of, is that okay? Is it okay to feel like each one's a little different from the other? I don't know.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I don't know. I mean, are the early ones still good, even if they're different?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I think they're good. I'm not sure if anyone else would notice except for me, but I noticed

    Sheila Heti:

    Maybe not. Yeah, probably. Yeah. And I think it's okay if they're a little different from each other.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I don't, well, we'll find out. But that was very difficult for me to figure out how to, and I turned a lot to, and I wonder if you do this, you kind of answered a little bit. I didn't want to turn to other writers. I turned to musicians to music. Do you do that as

    Sheila Heti:

    Well? Which musicians?

    Michael Jamin:

    It was turning to musicians to find out what is art? What am I supposed to be doing here? Yeah.

    Sheila Heti:

    I always look to painters for that.

    Michael Jamin:

    So painter, is it contemporary painters or

    Sheila Heti:

    Contemporary or not contemporary?

    Michael Jamin:

    And how do you pull, what are you looking for them? Yeah. When you look at a painting, how does that help you?

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, how does it help you to look at musicians?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, there's two things with music, and I feel like music is too, they're telling us, they get to tell a story with lyrics and with music. So if you didn't hear the lyrics, maybe you'd still get the sentiment of it. And so I feel like they have two tools where we only have one because they can set a mood just for the tune. And so I looked to them for the intimacy in their bravery. You'd look, okay, Stevie Nicks, she's singing about herself. That's all she's doing. And okay, you can do that. It just felt so vulnerable to be doing this.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's why I'm shocked that you're so brave about it.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, it's the only job is to not care about yourself in relation to it, that the book matters. And you don't matter.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. That's your job is to put the art first. Right.

    Sheila Heti:

    To not do things because worried about what people will think of you. That's the first. And I guess when I was younger, I was reading so many avant-garde writers that did that in such flamboyant ways. It just seemed to me the only Henry Miller, it just seemed to me maybe the first lesson, not even a conscious lesson, just like, oh, clearly he's not worried about what people are going to think of him or his reputation among decent people.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Right. And so you don't have that, obviously, you don't have that worry.

    Sheila Heti:

    No, but I don't know. A lot of decent people.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, you do. But yeah, I don't know. Again, it's what makes you, I don't know, such a fantastic writer. I mean, I want everyone to read your work because it's really fantastic. I have some questions here that I have to ask from. So my daughter, Lola, I tell her she's a way better writer than I was at her age. But the truth is, she may be a better writer than I'm now, but I don't tell her that part. But she has these questions. She put down some questions like, damn, you've got some good questions. So I can't take credit. I can't take credit for this question. Give

    Sheila Heti:

    Me Lowes questions.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. First of all, she says, what are your dreams for your writing, and how do you let them go while also keeping them alive? Oops. I dropped a rock.

    Sheila Heti:

    My dreams. You dropped a rock.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I dropped. I have magic crystals by my computer that are supposed to make my work better.

    Sheila Heti:

    Oh, what kind of rock is that?

    Michael Jamin:

    It came out of my head. You want some? Yeah. I don't know. They're magic, but they're on my computer. So what are your dreams for your writing, and how do you let them go while also keeping them alive? And I guess what she means is, I guess, ambitions at the age You were talking about that young age.

    Sheila Heti:

    Young. Yeah. How old is she? 20.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Sheila Heti:

    When I was 20, my dream was to be the best living writer, just to be the best novelist, just to work harder than any other writer alive. That's what I was thinking. It

    Michael Jamin:

    Was work harder.

    Sheila Heti:

    I was like, I got to work harder than any other writer alive.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what I was. And what did that work look like to you?

    Sheila Heti:

    Just always writing and always not being satisfied, and being a real critic of my work and trying to make it better, and trying to try to get it to sound more interesting and figure out what my sentences were, and letting myself be bad and repeat myself until I got better. And I don't think that I ever let that go. I am not sitting here today saying, I work harder than any other writer alive. But I do remember having that feeling when I was young. That's what I need to do. That's the only way it's going to work.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. That importance. Yeah, because

    Sheila Heti:

    It's just so hard. It's just so hard to write. Well, to write anything good for people.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think you give the perfect answer on that. I'll give her another the

    Sheila Heti:

    Parental answer. In any case, work hard.

    Michael Jamin:

    Work hard. Well, but it was really,

    Sheila Heti:

    It's true. I think it's true that, and I remember being her age and interviewing this older Canadian writer, Barbara Gowdy, who I really loved, and she told me, and she's terrific. She told me, I was writing for the student newspaper, and she said, it's funny, I've got my students who have talent, clear talent, and then I've got these other students who don't seem to have so much talent, but the ones who don't so much talent work really hard, and they end up doing better than the ones that have talent. And I thought, oh, I never even would've known that. I would've thought that. I didn't know that hard work meant could mean more than talent. So hopefully you have talent, and then you can also make the choice to talent

    Michael Jamin:

    Work. And you learned this at a young age, you're saying this

    Sheila Heti:

    Part? I mean, my mother was also just very strict about working hard

    Michael Jamin:

    Right.

    Sheila Heti:

    Studies and stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. Yeah. She's a delian mom. Hungarian.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you speak any Hungarian?

    Sheila Heti:

    No. Do you? No.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I don't. But I do know there's a Hungarian expression that really helped me. I'll tell you what it is. So do you speak any other languages?

    Sheila Heti:

    No,

    Michael Jamin:

    No, no. That's your next task. I wrote about this in one of my stories as well. There's a Hungarian expression where it says, okay, so let me take it back. So I learned to speak Spanish as a teenager and then Italian as an adult. So each time when you learn a new language that you're not born into, there's that moment where it's like it's really hard to talk. It takes months and months, and then finally one day you open your mouth and the words just come out without thinking just like that magic. And it's turning on a light bulb. And I've had a hard time explaining to people what that feels like. But then I discovered a Hungarian expression, which said it perfectly. It says, when you learn a little language, you gain a new soul. And I thought, that's exactly what it feels like, because you're talking, you're like, who is this? I don't speak this language. Who am I? That's incredible. And you talk about soul so much in your work. I thought maybe that's something you had experienced.

    Sheila Heti:

    I never got that far. I mean, I studied French and I never got close to a new soul. I didn't have always translation.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're always translating in your head,

    Sheila Heti:

    Right? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's just that moment, like, I don't know who I am. And then you find yourself reacting differently. And also using, if I find myself, I can't say, I don't know how to say this, so I'll say it this way, which is not how I would talk, because that's the only way I can express it. And then you're a different person. That's so neat. Yeah.

    Sheila Heti:

    Wonder people love learning languages.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it really is. Anyway, your mom must know she came up with it. Okay. So let me give her another question. Question. Okay. This is a good one. Okay. How do you tow the line between explaining what you mean by your writing? For example, the entire tree portion of pure color and just letting it be, even if that means being misinterpreted or confusing people. How do you tow the line between explaining?

    Sheila Heti:

    Don't really explain. I think I spend very little time explaining,

    Michael Jamin:

    But are you worried that it might be misinterpreted you people to understand your thoughts?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I think if the intention is there, if it's a clear intention when you're writing, then you're maybe not going to be misinterpreted as much as you think. And the intention is something that you can't really analyze. You can't take it apart, take a sentence apart and say where the intention was. But I do have that feeling that when writers are writing with a really strong intent, emotional or not emotional, just that it's coming from something very powerful inside, then it's less likely to be interpreted than one might fear. I don't think that I go in for much explaining.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, when you share your work with a friend, do you say, Hey, do you get what I'm going for here?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, when you share your work, then people say what they're getting from it. And usually it's not that. Usually the problem I have is not that they're not getting what I don't usually feel like the problem with readers is misinterpretation. I think usually the problem is that it's not interesting. It's not compelling. It's not, rather than it's they're getting something completely different from what you intended.

    Michael Jamin:

    Because see, in TV writing, I often think the difference between smart writing and maybe not smart writing is not that much. It's just whether you're explaining it or not. If you don't explain it, you're making the audience work. And then they think, oh, this must be smart. I figured it out.

    Sheila Heti:

    Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    And dumb writing, you just, Hey, spell it out. But that's not something that's your concern, I guess.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, I just don't want to ever, I think I've always, always been, ever written the connective tissue that other writers put in. I have this feeling if I am not interested in writing it, it probably doesn't need to be written. And maybe that's not true, but I always don't want to feel obliged to write something just for the reader. If I don't have a need to write it myself, then I don't think it should be on the page. That's why I think I'm not so good at writing nonfiction, because nonfiction is very much about serving the reader with explanation.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Well, but there's some moments where I tend to race through moments which I shouldn't race through. So I am conscious of that's like go back and write it and make sure it lands and take, this is not a sentence. You better step it out with a paragraph or something. But that's not something that even, that's why I think you're more artful when you're writing.

    Sheila Heti:

    I don't know. I try to skip it. I just don't want to put something down on the page if it doesn't also have some need from myself to be written. I just don't want to write something just for the reader to just for the reader, get two parts to, I had a friend, I remember we were much younger. He was like, how do you get people out of rooms? I was like, why do you need to get them out of the room? But he felt like he had to put every step in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right. And you'll just take a jump.

    Sheila Heti:

    If you don't feel like writing them leaving the room, then just, yeah. I think, yeah, it was just such a different thing that I never thought the reader doesn't need to see them leave the room. It's sort of like that with lots of things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I agree with you. It's hard to know. I think I agree with your friend, though. It's hard to know what to put in, what to put out, how much handhold, because I don't think I really feel like when reading you, I feel like you're pulling us through a trail. You're holding us by the hand, but you're walking ahead. And then sometimes you wait for us to catch up, and then you move ahead, and then we're catching up to you, but then you'll stop and you wait for us. So I felt taken care of as a reader. That's nice. Yeah. But it turns out you weren't trying to take care of me at all. You were just writing the way you write, right?

    Sheila Heti:

    No, I mean, I want it to make sense. I want it to make sense. Of course. It's just like how much sense does a person need? But I'm also think that, well, everyone's going to like my books. I started taking it as a given that probably half the people, and that's okay. I'd rather have a third of the people really, or quarter of the people, or 10th of the people really love it. And then the rest not really get it. So I don't think that, I'm trying to write the kind of books

    Michael Jamin:

    You did in one of your pieces. You did mention that you felt compelled to write something with a little more commercial appeal at one point

    Sheila Heti:

    In the diary. I said

    Michael Jamin:

    That, yeah. Maybe might've been the diary.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. I mean, always when you're young, you're always trying to figure out, how am I going to make money? But also, you can't even, that's hard. It's hard to write something with commercial appeal. It's not as easy as it sounds.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yeah, I don't know. I mean, I guess, I don't know. To me, writing something, people

    Sheila Heti:

    Think, oh, I'll just write some dumb popular book. But it's like those,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Sheila Heti:

    Something that people really want.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's true. I agree with you there. But I also feel, whatever this is next level, like I said, I don't know where you begin to think that this is going to work. And it does. You know what I'm saying? It's not like, because it's so many things, but all the pieces fit together, especially at the end. It all makes sense. So it was just lovely. Oh yeah, it was lovely. Yeah. Made me want to throw the book across the room, because I can't do this damnit, but okay. I want to answer one more question, then I'll let you go back to your life. But not until I get my answers. Let's see, what was it? Okay, this is interesting. So she writes so beautifully, she says, okay, you've answered a question as daunting as how should a person be in a whole book? In many ways, in many different ways, and explorations and explanations, you've arrived at answers not explicitly or all at once, but sewn into the whole entire book. So she asked, what was your initial instinctual answer on how a person should be? When that question first popped into your head,

    Sheila Heti:

    Gosh. I mean, honestly, Lola, I don't even remember. It was so long ago. That was 20 years ago that I started writing that book. I don't think that I even was thinking about, oh, what's my answer? I just really liked the way that sentence sounded, and I came up with

    Michael Jamin:

    Message. But you were trying to find yourself at that point.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah, but that sentence also was such a weird sentence. I don't even remember. I remember feeling I had it on my wall. I wrote it down and I put it on my wall. I was thinking about it. Should this be the, I don't know. That's an important sentence for me. I didn't know it was going to be the title of the book or anything. And my friend Margo came in. I was at a writer's retreat, this place called Yado, and she came in and she's like, she visited me there. She's like, that should be the title of your book. But I remember I put it on the wall. To me, it was such a weird sentence, it just got in my head like a earworm, just like a bug.

    Is this sentence even asking a question? Is this sentence even saying something I liked? And I remember I put, when I was at this writer's calling, I wasn't sure the title of the book should be, should It Be? How Should a Person Be? Should It Be The Ugly Painting Competition? I had one or two other ideas, and there was this table that writers could sort of put notes for each other on. And I put this note on sort of saying, make a tick mark with which title you think it should be. And most people chose the Ugly Painting competition. So there's this retrospective thing where, oh, that's a really good title, people say, but I think at the time, it just felt like a really weird sentence. And so I didn't really have an instinctive answer. I more just had a magnetic attraction to that sentence.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you weren't struggling with the notion at the time of how you should be. I felt like you were when I was reading it.

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, you have to narrow things down to put them in a book. I mean, I was just lost and confused and didn't know how to be a good person, and I didn't know what choices I should be making or how anybody made choices or, yeah, it all comes together in that sentence, I guess. But I wasn't walking around as a human thinking, how should a person be for myself? I was making really, I was just feeling very discouraged and very excited. Alternately,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Oh, okay. Okay. Alright. Hard part being asked a question from a book that was so long ago, but I would tell every, no,

    Sheila Heti:

    But I think that's the right answer. I think that you're not really magnetized exactly by the questions that are your life questions. You're magnetized by the questions that can be translated into book questions.

    Michael Jamin:

    Go on. I'm almost there. I'm almost with you. I'm still struggling. But

    Sheila Heti:

    You're drawn to the, you have to narrow things down to put them in a book. You can't put your whole life into a book. You have to narrow it down. And so you become attracted to those symbols, like the sentence, how should a person be as a symbol? You become attracted to these symbols that can be objects in a book, but in your life, you're not living symbolically where you're just lost and you just don't know how to be. So it doesn't crystallize in life. It's just this miasma of confusion and doubt and whatever. That's what life is.

    Michael Jamin:

    So do you think your writing helps you make sense of your life? Or are you making sense of it first and then writing.

    Sheila Heti:

    Writing? Am I making sense of it first and then writing? No. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you understand what I'm saying or no?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. No, I don't think so. I think you're writing to try to give structure to it, to try to give narrative, to try to give color to it or shade and, yeah, no, I don't think you don't make sense of it first and then write it out.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so in that way, I agree with you. And in that way, you almost invent yourself. You go, okay, this is a narrative. And now I guess it's true now.

    Sheila Heti:

    Well, no, no, it's not that. It's true now because you know that you invented it. So it serves a purpose for a short period of time.

    Michael Jamin:

    It serves a purpose, but

    Sheila Heti:

    You know, invented it. So it doesn't really permanently serve a purpose,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it does help you understand. It does help you, like I said, make a narrative of your life and that helps you understand, oh, I guess this is who I am now. This is who I am

    Sheila Heti:

    For those three years that you're writing three years, and then the book ends, and then you're lost again. And then you're like, now who am I going to be? What am I going to be? What is my outline?

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how do you come, okay, so how do you decide what your next work is going to be?

    Sheila Heti:

    I mean, you can make all sorts of decisions. And then we started off the conversation, then three weeks later, it was, you realized you were wrong. So it's more just like what sticks around. Again? I see you're wearing your wedding ring. You're married that it's like your partner. You probably had other people you thought you might marry or whatever, but it's just like, who ended up being your wife? You can ask that question retrospectively, but at the time you hope she's going to be your wife. Maybe you hope this other person was going to be your wife. You don't really know what it's going to be. So I guess it's the same with a book project. Retrospectively, you're like, oh, well, geez, I'm still working on that. It's been four years.

    Michael Jamin:

    Isn't that interesting though? Even when you talk about that, that you're, it's like how when you're talking about marrying someone, it's not even so much the person. It's the time. It's the time when it's almost like timing.

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. That's probably part of it too. I always want to start a book, and then when I actually do start one, I'm like, oh, well, you just weren't ready yet. You were still attached to the last book,

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you feel, okay, I get this idea of what sticks is what you'll work on and has legs, but do you feel any kind of pressure? I don't know, to continue reinventing this is what you're doing. That's the pattern. I see. Oh, I'm reinventing what my writing will be.

    Sheila Heti:

    I don't feel pressure. I feel like excited for the curiosity. I'm curious, or I would just want, well, what's the next thing? No, it's not pressure. It's more just looking forward to something new to play with.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I get that. I understand that. To me, I would be thinking, well, if it ain't broke, I'm trying to fix it. This is, I don't know. But no, I get

    Sheila Heti:

    It. But that's not true because you did leave screenwriting.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I'm still kind of, who knows? When you

    Sheila Heti:

    Started something new Yeah. And it wasn't broke. It was just that you wanted to try something.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It really was, what can I do without someone telling me what to do? Yeah. But did you ever have any interest in writing for screen?

    Sheila Heti:

    I've tried, and I just don't have, I would have to put in a lot more time than I probably have, but the couple of times I've tried to write for the screen, I just felt like it didn't, yeah. It's just not my medium. It's a very different, it's a much more mathematical, dramatic, logical kind of, I don't know. It's only halfway there because then the actors have to come. I like the fact with the book that it's the whole thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's all yours. Right. Do you watch a lot of TV or film?

    Sheila Heti:

    Yeah. My boyfriend and I watch something more or less every night. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? What do you went to? Yeah,

    Sheila Heti:

    He loves movies. Right now we're watching the Boys.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, the Boys, okay. Right.

    Sheila Heti:

    But I think my favorite was The Leftovers,

    Michael Jamin:

    The Wait, I didn't see that. That Leftovers

    Sheila Heti:

    TV show that ran for three seasons. I thought that was an incredible work of art.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? Oh, that's work for that.

    Sheila Heti:

    Interesting. The film was just great. But yeah, and I love Curb and Seinfeld. I mean, just this good old tv,

    Michael Jamin:

    Good old. Great. Wow. Sheila. Sheila Hetty, thank you so much. I don't know. This is one of the benefits of getting to do what I'm doing now, is I get to meet people like you and just learn and soak it up, because I just feel you is such an incredible talent. And so I urge everybody just to, I don't know, your newest book will be Alphabetical Diaries. That's February drop in February. But I guess for me, I'll probably read motherhood next. Is that what I should read next? Okay. She shaking Head. Okay. That's what I will. And so I urge everyone, Sheila, thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining

    Michael Jamin:

    Me so much for this

    Michael Jamin:

    Interview. Thanks for asking me. I really appreciate it. Oh, this was such a pleasure. Oh, please, everyone in my family, I was telling em, looks like the interview Sheila Hadie. And it was like a big deal. I got my questions, my daughter send me questions. Don't ruin it. Don't ruin the opportunity. Thank you again so much. Alright, everyone. More great stuff next week. Thank you so much for listening and keep writing.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    1h 18m | Jan 10, 2024
  • Ep 114 - Actress Mary Lynn Rajskub

    On this week's episode, I have actress Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Dropout, Brooklyn 99 and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also talk about her new stand-up comedy tour she is doing and how that came about. We talk about so much more, so make sure you tune in.

    Show Notes

    Mary Lynn Rajskub on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marylynnrajskub/

    Mary Lynn Rajskub IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0707476/

    Mary Lynn Rajskub on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Lynn_Rajskub

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I don't know what else to do because I am an artist. So it's always been tied to my personal life and my personal expression, and there's a therapeutic aspect to it. And I don't really, I feel like if I could have taken the route of, I don't know. I never had the ability to be like, I'm going to write scripts, so I just kind of amped up the thing that I am good at.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone. Welcome back for another episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'm going to tell you what I'm talking about today. I'm talking with a wonderful actress named Mary Lynn Reup, who I worked with many years ago. I was introduced to her. She's doing her hair right now. How's

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Your side part going? Okay, go on.

    Michael Jamin:

    Many years we were teamed up to take a pilot out based on her life and many pilots that didn't go anywhere. But Mary Lynn is, you are one of my favorite Hollywood stories, and I'm going to tell it to you and I hope it embarrasses you because it was so funny. So we were working together on telling this pilot, and then it was a few years later, we were doing Marin, mark Marin, his show. We were running his show, and then we needed someone at the last minute to play themselves in an interview. So I text Mary Lynn, I got her number on my cell phone. I text her and I

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Say, oh, what did I do?

    Michael Jamin:

    I say, I say, Hey, Mary Lynn, I know this is last minute, but do you want to be in our TV show? And then you wrote back, yes, who is this?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Nope,

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't need to read a part. And we script's are

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Important.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'll be there tomorrow. I just assumed I was in your phone. So I was like, whatever. And then we later had you on LX Buddy system, but for the people who are not entirely sure who you are, I mean, you've done a ton of stuff. Most, I guess your biggest role was Chloe on 24, which was a giant hit. So you're Chloe, but then I was also looking through your credits and you also played Chloe on Veronica's closet. And I wonder if that was just a trial run for the name

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Trial. Yeah, it's in the ether that the quirky awkward girl, oh, let's call her Chloe in Veronica's closet. She was androgynous and it was Wally Langham who played her assistant on that show, if I'm remembering correctly. Both of us. His character turned out to be gay. It was actually kind of a sweet story. And so we both were ambiguous sexually, and we both had crushes on Scott Bayo, which is not adorable, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Not anymore. Do you remember all the parts you've done like this? Do you have a good memory for everything you've done?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    You've done

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of parts.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    What's funny is you're pulling the switcheroo on me because normally people will say stuff to me and I'm like, I don't remember that at all. But things like this, if you ask me what the part is and what the story is, I most likely will remember that stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    But when you Go ahead,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, but there are some things where either, I don't know, it depends. Sometimes I'm in stuff, I'm like, I don't remember being there. I don't remember you

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. You sometimes turn on the TV and see an episode of something you've done done a ton. And they go, oh, look at there. There I am. Do you not remember?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. And it's funny, the way that you're saying it through the prism of the actual part, I'll remember that. But there's a certain, I don't know, there's certain events or one-off things or sometimes there's stuff on 24. There's a ton ton of guest stars because there's so much plot on that show, and there's so many people that get killed per episode, most likely. In that case, it's a person that I just wasn't on set with, and so I didn't have memorized the episodes of who all the characters are type of thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now you do a lot of, I see you posting, you're always on the road, you're always doing standup, but did you start as a standup?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I started in standup ish, yes. I was going to school for painting, and then it turned to performance art, and then I started making fun of performance art.

    And then I was in San Francisco and I was going to bars and doing open mic shows. I was really attracted to solo performers, but at the time it was more performance arty. And then once I started just organically making fun of it, I started to encounter comedians who would come to these. There was a crossover between artists and comedians who would go to the same open mics. And I remember seeing the comedians and going, oh, that's, oh, that's somebody that knows their voice, their natural at storytelling, because I was seeing a lot of just poetry from their journal and stuff like that. And it wasn't until I started meeting comedians that I was like, oh, those are my people. But I still didn't understand necessarily how I was being funny.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how did you find your voice then? That takes a long time.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh, I think I just found it last week.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, tell me why, how you found it. What does that mean for you to find your, I know what it means for a writer. What does it mean for you?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    What I'm realizing, honestly, lately within the past few years, especially within the past decade that I've gone on the road doing comedy in earnest, is that I do have a story to tell. It's just taken me a long time to hone in on what that is. And a lot of it is just come from my life experience and putting together, oh, that's what I thought about that, reflecting on stuff, because I think when I first started, I grew up sort of in a bubble and pretty naive, and so I just was putting a vulnerability out there, but I didn't know what I was saying or what I was doing. I got a lot of acting because of that

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. So you were vulnerable back when you were starting off?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    A lot of times, and that's pretty much what I did on stages. I would improvise and I wouldn't know what I was going to say. And I can remember looking back, other people would be like, did you write a sketch packet for that? Again, there was a crossover between actors and comedy writers, and I used to just really beat myself up, and it's because I was so bogged down by whatever social anxiety and whatever my brain, the mechanism was geared towards performing, and I still can't quite articulate it, but I just know that I didn't have the presence of mind or the ability to, my brain just didn't work that way. I wasn't about to sit down and write a sketch packet. I had to go through it experientially year after year to be like, oh, I'm this type of person. That's why sometimes people will be like, they'll ask the generic question of who are your comedic influences? It's like, I never related to a guy on a stage in a suit with a tie going, here's what I think about this. It's only lately that I'm going, oh, I have an opinion on that, and it's a strong opinion, but it took me a long time to not be really reactive and really passive.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you still write out your material before as if any other comedian would, right? Or

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No? I do. I do. And now that I've been doing it so long, things will come to me and it's always a joy. You, and I'm sure when you're writing, sometimes you'll get those one-liners really quick that you're like, oh, that's fully formed. I'd have one line that's been in my act forever, but I just love it. It's like, did you know you could do a bunch of yoga and still be an asshole? And that's just a real quickie. I didn't sit down trying to write that. And then I have a whole another scenario that follows that, where it's like the kernel of it is truths, but the way it comes out is pretty fabricated.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you have a preference as to, do you prefer acting or standup, or does it not make a difference to you?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, at this point, I prefer standup just because there's, well, there's meat on the bone for that in terms of I get to be in control and I get to be on stage for an hour, and it's hard and it's challenging, it's exhilarating. I love acting. It's just lately it's been a bit of diminishing returns in terms of parts that I can actually be challenged by. I would absolutely love to have something that I can dig into and that would have a lot of layers to it, something that I could come back and continue to be that character. But I'm going on 10 to 15 years of the life of a lot of guest stars, which is great. I'm very thankful, and I will do that again. But that's got its own. You're coming onto a set where everybody knows each other and you're just like, I got to now in two days, fit into the tone of the show, and then I do my one thing and then I leave.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you prefer, because you do a lot of comedy, I mean, do you prefer drama then to do, is that more satisfying to you?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, 24 was pretty satisfying just because it was such a big show and it was so different for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But also, you were kind of the relief character. You were the awkward weirdo, right? Totally. Yeah.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    But is there a plan then with your, I mean, I don't know why I'm asking this. Is there more to it? Is there a bigger plan for you doing all this standard? No,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I need your help because my help

    Michael Jamin:

    Want your help

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Would, my dream would be to be able to get another acting role that I could be a regular character on something. It's a big dream. My other dream would be to sell out the tickets in the small clubs that I do, so that I could sustain what I'm already doing. And so when you say, is there a plan, that would be the plan. I don't necessarily know if I get to do that or not. I've got a few more pushes in me, and if one of those things doesn't start to pay off, I will be trying to pay for my lavish lifestyle in some other way. Maybe OnlyFans, maybe some feet videos. I heard on OnlyFans, there's big breasted women making smoothies. I could do the small breasted women making smoothies on OnlyFans.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, so they're not naked, but they're just making smoothies. They're naked. Oh,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Let me talk to you about something. I've spent zero time on there, but I was podcast. I have a new podcast called that. Woo. You do. Please promote it because I that

    Michael Jamin:

    Woo. You do for sure

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    At that. Woo. You do. I have a partner. We talk about what's a woo that you do that, A magical thinking thing that you do in your life that you think, anyway, we were digressing and our producer went on to OnlyFans. The thing about it is there's whole universe of stuff. I think it started out as soft core porn, and now it's like everything. And I can't say much more. I only spent about 40 seconds on there. But you go on there, you get an onslaught of all different kinds of things that, I mean, people are doing comedy on there. People are doing,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really? On there? Yeah. So you're saying not just porn, it's just

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's not just porn anymore. Whitney Cummings is doing, she did the Burt Er roast on OnlyFans. Anyway, I'm here to promote my podcast at that. Woo. You do. They don't need,

    Michael Jamin:

    But let's talk about your, okay, so what's the premise of your show, your podcast?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    So my friend Jeffrey and I, he comes on the road with me. He's a very funny comedian. He features for me, and we enjoy each other's company. And he may or may not, I may, he maybe carries crystals in his pockets sometimes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I have some crystals right here. I keep 'em on my computer in case That's what I'm talking about for creativity. It's California.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. Fuels. So the podcast is what is the woo that maybe you're embarrassed about that you do that you think, have you written yourself a check for a million dollars? Do you keep crystals on your desk to harness the energy from the universe? We had a guy talk that he started praying. I had a story about going to visit a crystal skull. One lady talked, of course psychics came up. But there's all different types of little things that you think is going to give you or things that make you happy. And they're sort of like a magical thinking.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's a great idea actually, because it's very small, but it's very optimistic and helpful

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    For a podcast. And I had one woman who was like, she wasn't on the pod, but she's like, I don't have a woo. I don't have a woo. And the more we talked, she said, I'm very organized though. And I said, well, what does that bring you? And then I love organizing as a woo, because that gives her a sense of peace and calmness. And it's like, what's that thing you do that makes you feel good?

    Michael Jamin:

    When I was struggling a few years back, I was all depressed about something. And then I read this book and it was very new agey. There's a lot of the book that was, I thought this is very helpful, but this is really helpful. But then it went a little too far, and I was like, ah, you're fucking ruined it. I was on board. And then you just took it one step so far. But one of the things that he said that I thought was so helpful, it was about kind of visualizing your life or whatever. And one of the things that was so helpful, he said, it's already happened. It just hasn't happened yet. Whatever you want. It's already happened. It just hasn't happened yet. And so I was like, that was so profound to me. It was like, oh. So now I just have to figure out how to make it happen. Already done. I don't know why. I find that really helpful. Maybe it doesn't help you at all.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I love that. Well, it sort of eases the pain of, I think the idea is like we're supposed to go through these challenges and take little steps, but it's like watering a plant. You're not just like, why aren't you grown? Why aren't you a tree yet? But you're like, oh, you will be a tree. And I just know you're growing and it doesn't help to go like, why aren't you this yet?

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's what you're doing now, because you're just putting this energy out there. You're putting it with going on the road, which is not easy. And you're putting the energy out there hoping that something will come from it and something will, you just don't know what it will be.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Right. And I'm really hoping to, looking back on my life, that was a long time ago that we pitched that. I had a very good run of good fortune with having the parts shine on me for a little while there. And then of course, with the massive show of 24, and people know me from always Sunny in Philadelphia now, even though that's only a couple episodes. But I've been very lucky, but I still want to do it. So we'll see.

    Michael Jamin:

    When you're on the road, because you are on the road a lot, how many days were you on the road?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's just a

    Michael Jamin:

    Lot. Okay. So when you're on the road, will you go from one city to the next, or do you always come back to la?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I try to come back, and the best case scenario for me would be to do two weekends a month. But it doesn't work out like that. Now, this month of November, I'm going to be out for almost the entire month because I have a lot of one nighters. Some won't give you a weekend booking some clubs. So it's just one nighters that I can get booked, and then I'm going.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then do you drive from city to city then, or what? Or you fly?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, at the time, I'm just doing a lot of one-way flights,

    Michael Jamin:

    One-way, flights back and forth.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's exhausting. It

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Is exhausting.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Very bizarre.

    Michael Jamin:

    Tell me what it is. Okay, so you go to some city. Let's say you're going to Boston, right? You're flying the night before. What is it really like?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, you're asking me at a weird time because I just booked a bunch of flights. And some of 'em, if I have a one night or somewhere, I'm not getting paid for four or five shows. What's nice, what's the best is if you can fly in the night before you wake up, you chill out, and you do a whole weekend of shows.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then after the last show, you fly back, or do you wait another day?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, after the last show, you fly back. Well, you have to spend the night, but usually it's like 6:00 AM I'm out the next morning I be home and take the kid to school and pick up the kid from school.

    Michael Jamin:

    And what would happen if your flight got caught somewhere or a connecting flight? What would happen if you missed your connecting flight to this show? What happens?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Hey, it's just another day that he stays with his dad and they got to take a couple

    Michael Jamin:

    Of men for you. But you missed the show. I'm saying.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh, you're saying if I don't make it to the show?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Well, that hasn't happened yet.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    But yeah. And this time in November, I've got a lot of, there's Portland, there's Alameda, California, there's Sacramento, there's Utah, and they're all within a few days. So I'm doing these little flights, and some of them are the same day of the show. There's one where I get in at 4:00 PM and the show's at seven or eight. And that's just the way it's going to

    Michael Jamin:

    Be way it is. But I also think, alright, so exhausting from the travel. I dunno why I'm so stuck on the practicality of this whole thing. But then you have to psych yourself up to go up on stage at whatever, nine o'clock or whatever. Isn't your energy sap by that time? Yeah. What do you do?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I napped before and then I make sure that I have enough time to wake myself up from the nap. And then also, if I'm feeling really dark and low energy, I just let myself go there. If you try to push it away, it just makes it worse.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you're about to go on stage and you're fucking exhausted. And then when you go there,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    What happens is I've experimented with different versions. I was saying I was real reactive in the past. Sometimes I would get really in my head and I get really quiet, and I've learned techniques. If I'm feeling low, feeling exhausted, I carry that with me on the stage. I'm honest with it. Then I use it. And then it's like little stepladders, you get out of it because you're standing on stage in front of an audience, but it's using the honesty of where you're at. And then that exhaustion oftentimes will turn into annoyance, will turn into anger, will turn into humor. I mean, there's one example where I got booked at, I thought was a club. It was a bar show. It was in a weird part of town. It was honestly very white trashy, for lack of a better word. And I was like, I never drink before shows. And I started drinking. And then by the time I got on stage, I was like, I don't know why I got booked here. I don't know what this is.

    Michael Jamin:

    Did you say that as part of your act? Yes, you did.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    And they loved it because I was being honest and I took my reality. I was like, what is this? I walked around the building, it's like a dirt parking lot. I don't even know what's happening. Why are you guys here? Why? And

    Michael Jamin:

    That must've depressed when you showed up. You don't deserve me. That's hilarious.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    One of the funnest shows ever. And I started categorizing the audience, you guys are, what? Is this over? Okay, you guys are, this is what you're going to do. And I started naming them and oh my

    Michael Jamin:

    God,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    The guy who went on before me. But again, this is also after many, many shows under my belt. I wouldn't recommend just doing that. But we're talking about addressing this darkness in my soul because I already know a lot of things about myself. Honestly. I know the caliber that I can work at, and I know that I'm not necessarily a super joke Smith wordsmith. You know what I mean? I know my lane and I know my strengths and I know my experience, and I know that I am not just going on stage to be pissed off to shit on them. I know that I'm going to transform it into something. And I have enough experience to know that I can do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so funny because you had this awful experience. The worst you show up, this is going to be terrible, and it turns out to be great because you acknowledge it. And were they there to see, I mean, it just seems like you're okay, I'm Chloe. How would I get out of this fucking mess?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh, I mean, you're really getting me going. I feel like I'm talking a lot because you're going right into the minutiae. That's very real. Things that become pump the show. When I first started going on the broad proper, 24 was actually still on the air. And I still had this, what was funny to me at least a decade ago was like, I'm uncomfortable. I don't like myself. I had this thought, very self-deprecating, which will never completely go away, but very self-deprecating point humor, which to me was hilarious to expose that. But when I took the stage and they were expecting to see Chloe, it was completely confusing to them going, you're a TV star, you're Chloe. What is this person, this weirdo,

    Michael Jamin:

    This

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Interior? I don't remember what the jokes were back then, but I developed, had to, it was like do or die. I had to survive. I had to sink or swim, and next thing you know, I've got a whole 15 minute chunk that's like, oh, you're my Jack Bauer. Oh, you. And I'm like, I'm not really good at computers guys. And I'm just playing because I can feel the energy and they need to be like that guy. He loves Jack Bauer. Oh, you're the Jack Bauer of the show. And I developed jokes within that and ER's not some of it dumb, but because they were so jacked up and only seeing that way that,

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's interesting. They have this expectation. It's natural. I guess they're coming to the show. Are they coming to see you now because of Chloe or because of your, what do you think? Why are they coming out? Do you think?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's a mixture now, and it really is a true mixture. It's people that don't know why they're there that don't know me from anything. It's people that know me from Always Sunny. It's people that know me, Chloe, those two camps want to fight with each other. And it's people who are comedy fans. It's a real mixture.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you feel, this is odd, because this is also, I guess this speaks also to your celebrity, but when you meet someone when they want to meet you, they want to shake your hand, they want to take a picture of you, is there a sense that you're like, did I give you what you wanted?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh, yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is that like for you?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I just let them say their thing

    Michael Jamin:

    And then what? That's all they want. You just let them give 'em a chance to voice what they're, and that's it.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    You have to do. And I try to hear back to them their energy, and I try to listen and sort of validate their entry point. Because it depends. Some people are like, oh, my parents showed me 24. Some people are still in 24. There are certain people that watch it over and over again. And then there's other people that are like Gail, the snail,

    Whatever thing they want to experience. I try to, sometimes people will reference other things and always Sunny, they'll go, oh, I can't even think of it. I don't watch the show. I love them. I think they are top notch. I love all those guys. I love Caitlyn. Known her for a long time. I don't watch, I watch some, but people that watch that show have it memorized and they watch it over and over again and they make references to other things. And then I can see them a little bit. They're a little disappointed where I'm like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Isn't that weird?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    I get that even from, because we were on King of the Hill for five seasons, and sometimes people fans know the show better than I do, and I worked on it on shows that I worked on. I don't remember them as well. And they do. And I always feel like, I don't know, it's awkward. It's awkward for me. I don't know how I'm supposed to be in speech.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    And it's a huge compliment because you know that energy, you're like, yes, that's such a great, the fact that they identify with it and they know it so well is a wonderful thing. But as the person who creates it, you go like, yeah, I did it and then I moved on.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I'm not living in it, but it's such a beautiful thing when people are fans of stuff. It's just, I can't be there. I got to get a job. You have

    Michael Jamin:

    To be in the president. Exactly. I think that you see this a lot. I mean, he hear about this a lot about stars, who I find, I talked about this a while ago. I saw an old clip of Eve Plum who played Marsha Brady, and she was the Jerry's, I don't know what show. She was on something, maybe Jerry Sprinkler, I don't know. This is whatever, 20 years ago. And then someone from the audience said, they raised their hand. Can you just do it? I

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Remember that. I think I've seen that clip.

    Michael Jamin:

    And she was like, no. She like, she knew what she wanted and she wasn't going to do it. And then she kind of, so the woman was, can you just say, and she wanted her to say, Marsha, Marsha Marcia. And she wouldn't do it. And I felt I didn't blame her at all. I mean, you could see why she didn't want to do it. I didn't blame

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Her. That's probably for her. She's like, that was,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I was 10. Yeah. I can't pretend like I'm still a 10-year-old. I live in the present, and I don't think people recognize that. And it was a little heartbreaking because she was disappointing them. But you couldn't blame her today. What do you expect?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It is heartbreaking. It goes from being an amazing thing to not cool after for a certain amount of time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Does it even for you the same way you mean?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, I mean, I really don't mind it. And I've learned, for the most part, most people are just really nice. So I'm very lucky. Most people are just like, they love it, and then they say that and then they move on. The only thing that's a little bit frustrating for me is running into a casting director who's thinks I'm still, I mean, this was a few years ago, but she's like, you're on a 24, right? I'm like, no, dude, that's been done for 13 years.

    Michael Jamin:

    No one's on 24.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, speaking of the strike. And I make no residuals. And I made a low amount of money. And people think, because such a high profile show that, oh, you're good, right? You're done. I need to change the image of myself. But whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    You have to constantly, it doesn't end. I think people don't realize that, especially for actors, you have to constantly get work and nothing's a given. I am sure it's a little easier for you because people know that when they hire you, they're going to get a good performance. But it's not like you still got to audition. You still got to go out for stuff. So it's hard. Is it even hard? I mean, it must have much harder in the beginning, getting nos a lot as an actor hearing No. When you auditioned, getting rejected in the beginning, or was that not your case?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, it's not, yeah, the nose is one thing, but I think it's what you were saying earlier, even though you were equating it to standup, for me, it's getting it up again. And some people are better at this, but it's making it a numbers game. But to put it out there per audition over and over again is harder than the nose. And I know the

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. It's like, I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you have that same thing with standup as well, or no?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Here in my control. And more frequently you do it, but it also is a beast because if you take a few days off, it's like, oh, I got to get back in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why do you say that? It's because the business side

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    And the timing and the rhythm

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Being present, it's just a constant. You've got to constantly work out that muscle.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And so you do crowd work as well then It sounds like you interact with them. Yeah. Yeah. Do you have a preference?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No. I mean, I remember there was this one club where the guy, it was, what's that word? Not vanity, but he was retired, but was like, I'm going to start a comedy club, but didn't put all this money into the drywall and the design and the sound, but the audience didn't know why they were there. There was no sense of when you go into an older comedy club, like the Comedy Store or some of these places that have been there forever, the punchline in San Francisco, everyone knows why they're there. The seats are close together, they're facing the stage. They're very simple things, but it's hard to create that like, oh, we go here to see comedy. And that gets lost a lot lately. And there was a new club, and I remember it was like Whack-a-Mole where I'm teaching them how to focus. We're at a show and these women, they're drinking like they're at a bar and they're talking to each other. And I'm like, oh. And I got off the stage, walked into the audience and was like, oh yeah, you guys. And they're like, we're divorced too, and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, yeah, we're the same, but you know what I wouldn't do. Go to your show and then act like I was at a bar. And they were like, oh. And they shut up. But I

    Michael Jamin:

    Butt that. So strange. That's the problem with standup. It's different when you're doing standup in front of a whatever. You sell a theater and you sell a lot of tickets. And when you're in a club, people might be there just to socialize with their fucking friends. And so it's a whole different thing, man. It's a whole different level of, they could be hostile. I don't know. That kind of stuff worries me a little bit. And I didn't stand up when I was much younger, but I wasn't thinking it through enough.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    What happened? Tell me about it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I don't know. I just did it. Maybe you've heard there's a club. I was from New York, so there's a couple of clubs nearby. I would do it on the weekends and stuff, and I didn't, colleges shows and stuff like that. But at some point I was like, you know what? I'd rather, what's the end goal? I have to be on the road. Or if I become a comedy writer, then I can just stay in one place and I can go to sleep at a decent hour. So that's what my thinking was, how to

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Be a comedy writer at the beginning. How did you learn how to edit down on the page?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's really hard because it's a different thing. I had took some classes and then I teamed up with Seabert, and then we started writing more scripts together. And then you have to learn story structure. That's the hardest thing there is. But even I remember driving out here from New York after I graduated thinking, okay, think of something funny. What the fuck? No, it doesn't work that way, man. I didn't have a voice. That's why I was talking. I didn't know.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    So how did you find your voice?

    Michael Jamin:

    The voice thing? Well, when you're writing on a TV show, you don't, you find the voice of you, the actor you're writing for, or you find the voice for the characters that are already there, not supposed to have your voice. You're supposed to have their voice. And so when I was writing my book, maybe you can see it. So I wrote this book and I've been performing on it. So this is why I'm so curious to talk to performers. And the whole process of finding my voice was really scary. In the beginning. It was like, well, what can I write on my own without an executive giving me notes without, and then finding your voice meant just being honest. And that was really hard.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It was like, it feels like the wrong answer. Just be honest. Boom.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well be honest with who you are. You have to speak the truth. You have to be vulnerable. But there are times, as I've been performing two theaters, so it's not standup because that's different. You're selling tickets and people are friendly. But there have been times before I go up every show, I kind of say to myself, why am I doing this again? I'm getting 'em nervous. Why am I doing this?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    You're back in it. You're performing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. We'll just see where it takes me.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    And have you done a lot of, are you on the road?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I've done, we did, I don't know, maybe I think eight shows in LA in a couple in Boston, and then I'm waiting for the book to drop. Then I'll go back on the road again and we'll see where I can sell tickets. That's the hard We'll see. We'll see. People say they want to see me. Well, we'll see. Because you're literally selling one ticket at a time. You're like, you're talking about, Hey, come see me Boston. And you look at the ticket sales, oh, there's a sale. Then you do another post and then another ticket sale. So it's hard. Everything's hard now. Is that your experience at all? Is any of this your experience?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, my shit is just, I'm just really selling out everywhere.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you promote a lot? Is that what the podcast is for? At

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Woo. You do on all platforms at that. Okay. Sorry, what'd you say?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. Is that what the podcast is for? To help let people know you're coming to their city or something?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. And because Jeffrey does feature for me, I mean, that would be really, again, pretty dreamy. If it's kind of all is starts part of the same package that people could listen to it, hear us, come see us live.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. You could even do your podcast live. Is that something you want to do?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. I mean, no, at this point, it depends.

    Michael Jamin:

    How many episodes are you dropping? You do one a week or something. And do you shoot it? Where do you record it?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    We record it in Sun Valley.

    Michael Jamin:

    In Sun Valley?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that good or bad? What's wrong with that?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Our producers are there and they put

    Michael Jamin:

    It out. They have a studio. Yeah,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    They have a studio.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I know Sun Valley. Yeah.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Awesome.

    Michael Jamin:

    I like Sun Valley. They got that. Nice. There's a Latuna Canyon. It's my favorite road to tripod.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I know the area Well.

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

    Is there other projects? I don't know what you want to work on other than I'm so curious. I really am curious to see where else this will take you, all this energy you're putting into.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I know, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I mean, other than I guess acting, I don't know anything else.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Well, the thing is, I don't know what else to do because I am an artist, so it's always been tied to my personal life and my personal expression, and there's a therapeutic aspect to it. And I don't really, I feel like if I could have taken the route of, I don't know. I never had the ability to be like, I'm going to write scripts, so I just amped up the thing that I am good at, and I'm hoping that it, I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    What about theater do you think about? Or is that just not,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That's a money maker right there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, but you could say, is it less of a money maker than standup? Is that what it is?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I think so. I think it's less of a moneymaker and more of a commitment.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I saw a show yesterday at the Geffen. It was a small little show. The theater was probably 99 CSS or something. I don't know. It was a nice little show. Yeah, okay. But when you go on the road though, you're effectively saying, you're effectively saying, I can't audition. I can't be booked for anything. Well,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, but if there's no shows that are booking you, then you're like, that's what I've been on the road. Because it's been sort of a diminishing return of, I mean, there's no auditions to have really,

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I don't know. And so are your agents help with that, or do you have a separate booking agent for the road? We

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Don't want to go down the road of what is really, of how this is working for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I'm so indelicate because I see all the time.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, not at all. It's just

    Michael Jamin:

    I see you on Instagram performing and I'm like, you're doing, you're funny. You're great. It seems like you're doing fantastic in my eyes. So that's why I'm like, yeah,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I'm doing fantastic.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then you get booked on all these shows and I don't know. I don't know. I think you've done a pretty amazing career, mean, especially when you look at all that you have done.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, look at it that way.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Been really amazing. What do I get to do from here? I don't know. And honestly, looking back on it, I've never known it'd be a nice idea for me to be able to go, I'm going to have this. I'm going to have that, and that's going to pay off.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. So for me, I would be very, you're an artist, so an artist. So artists know that there's nothing, the freedom is, that's the trade-off making that trade off. So how are you making sure that you're good with that? How do you not worry about it? How do you not stress? How do you like, okay, I'm making art.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's really scary.

    Michael Jamin:

    You lean into it.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, I just lean into it and I've been lucky enough to get a certain amount of work, and I look back on the year and I go, I don't know how I did it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really. Right. I have the same fear as myself. I'm like, okay, I've done it every year up till now, but I don't know how I'm going to do it this year. Same

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Thing. I've had enough success that I, hopefully I have the building blocks you're saying to be enough of a name to get in the door and make enough money to keep it going. It's just like a big gamble. And I think I'm saying we're going down a dark road. It's not that I'm negative about it because I really love my career and I love what I do, but it does get to the point where you're like, how much energy do I have? It's a life of sacrifice. I don't live the traditional life, especially now that I'm divorced. And it's like, what's going on? If you would've told me I would be driving to West Hollywood to do sets, I'm going, well, this feeds me. This helps me feel alive. It helps me feel creative. It must lead to something. And if it doesn't,

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you have friends from back where you grew up who have vastly different non Hollywood lives who've just taken these jobs where, and can you relate to them now?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No.

    Michael Jamin:

    When was the last time you tried? Because I was recently at an event where I saw some people I grew up with and I was like, they all seem so grown up.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    They really know what's going on.

    Michael Jamin:

    They,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    They really have these foundational beliefs, and they'll explain their insurance policies to you and they'll tell you about the drains in their yard. They have intimate knowledge of the duct work, and they're remodeling the kitchen and they're

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. It is always about the remodeling of the kitchen. That's the big one. And whenever I hear it, I always get a little insecure. I always feel like, am I doing something wrong?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Oh yeah, I get really, because they'll have the parties where it's the same people come into the same place. And so-and-so's bringing that same casserole again.

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I don't have that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you don't have that?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No. My friends that I have in the twenties, everyone went off and had their lives. And also I've moved a lot of, and I get to socialize doing standup. But then you're like, hi, bye. And then you kind of go back to your life and

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, because I wonder, I don't know why I'm thinking of this, so I wonder if they have the same thoughts about your life. Are they like, man, Mary Lynn's got it, she did it. Or Mary Lynn doesn't have a, can't talk about drains.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I think it's both my best that it's probably like, oh gosh, that poor thing. She has no stability. On the other hand, it'll be the people that are like, can I go with you? Can I come on the road with you? And I'm like, really?

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder, are they serious, do you think? Or what?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I don't know. There's different versions of it. There's the woman that I ran into that I went to high school with who had a son, I think at the time, this was years ago, she had a 12-year-old son. She's like, can I be your assistant and come on the road with you? And it's like, I don't know what she was worked at some company that sold fans or something like ceiling fans. I don't know what you think this is, but oh, you're going to take, first of all, I'm not going to pay you anything. If I'm able to pay anything, it's going to be a drastic pay cut and then what the same bed as me, and you're going to be away from your son. How does that work? And you're going to do exactly what.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you ask them that? Or is it just like you just kind of change the subject?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I just change the subject.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. I think because obviously this,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's kind of messed up. It's sort of a compliment of like, oh, you think this is some fantastical thing? Yeah, let's just change the subject and let that live in your mind as some other than what it actually is.

    Michael Jamin:

    They don't see the reality of it. They really don't, which is so interesting.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, it's part of the magic of going on stage and doing a show. I'm sure any person could stop and go, oh, she probably napped until 4:00 PM and didn't talk to anybody except for two words to the lady at the front desk. But you get to be there and have this show and have the magic of being in that moment and being in that space.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is it hard for you to come down after you perform?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I've gotten used to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, so what do you do? Do you hang out at the comedy club for a little bit or you just head back and go a little bit? You do a little bit, a little bit. Interesting. And then you can go back to sleep. I dunno, it's hard to come down from when you're on stage. You are in 100%. You're giving everything. You're not letting a moment. Your mind is racing. You're not letting anything. It's not like a day at the office where you get your feet up and you're really not paying attention. You are a hundred percent in it, and it's exhausting. A

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    High and a low. Yeah, for sure.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's exhausting, right? I mean, it really is. Yeah, it's great. But it's exhausting

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Typically. I mean, I'm not saying everyone's like this, but typically it's like sometimes you'll have friends in the city and they're like, oh, come with us to dinner. It's like, I'm not sitting for dinner before a show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you got to focus, right? Do you run through your set before every show or you at the point you don't need to do that?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Well, right now I'm running through my set because I'm taping in Chicago, but I'm only doing one show. So I'm trying to trick myself because usually you do a whole weekend and I will get an idea of the set list. And then sometimes, a lot of times I will have an incident or some fact about the city. So I'll try to have that at the beginning as a greeting of something that happened that day or facts about their city. And depending on sometimes that'll be more fruitful than others, and that'll get me going. I'll think of something funny that I can just try off the cuff at the beginning of that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, that's interesting. So are you trying to give these shows a shape or is it just like, I want to give as many laughs as I can in however long I'm on stage, or is there a shape to it?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Usually as many laughs and I've gotten to the point where, and this is because I've done a ton of shows lately, it's gotten to the point where point, this last time I was out, I just went, I'm going to do my closer first once I get to the end of that to see where the energy is and to see what I say next.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you tried doing your closer first, which is going to be strong, and then what happened when you got to the end of your set? You're like, I don't have a closer now.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, it was really fun. It was really exciting. It got it to this level and the energy carried through to the other pieces, and it kind of caused me to deliver the other things better, honestly.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that's interest. That really is interesting.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Ending on something else, but I have enough to play around with where Yeah, you're kind of in your head. I'm going, oh, I guess I'm going to say that now I'm present, but I'm also moving things around a little bit.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's that, you're right, it is about that. The excitement is when you don't get the laugh where you thought you were going to get a laugh, you go things, they're about to go off the rails, right?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. The way you're thinking about this, I'm like, you're going to be on the road doing standup soon.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. It's such a different thing. It really is such a different thing. Like I said, sometimes the audiences, well, sometimes they're not really there to see you. They're there to go out with their friends and have a drink and you're just in their way. You're talking through their night out in the town. I've seen it enough guys. It can be rude. Staff can be, they can be rude.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Go to a bar. What are you doing?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, what are you doing? Yeah, but I feel like when I, at least when I perform, it's a little different. They're there to ing. I feel like someone asked me before, what are you going to do if they heckle? I'm like, oh, no one's going to heckle. That's not that kind of show. I would assume that's not going to happen. Not that kind of show. It's like,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I'm sad I missed your LA show. So are you reading from your book and talking in between or

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's more performative. It's like a reading is here, but it is really up and out. It's up and out. It's kind of like, well, have you ever seen any David Seras? You ever seen it perform? Yeah, it's a little like that, but it's a little more performative, a little more, but that's what it is. So I'll let you know when the next time is, but yeah, it was a little terrifying the first time, and I had to take acting lessons. I had to learn how to act.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    You did

    Michael Jamin:

    Well. Yeah. I, I've directed actors, but it's one thing when you do it yourself. Here's the problem. My wife directed, and I met her when she was an actor, so she knows how to act because I met her on set, and so she directs it, and she's like, the first time we're rehearsing, she goes, you're taking the stage all wrong. I'm like, what do you mean? Because I'm walking on stage and it's like that. She's like, no, no, no, no, no. You're a rock star when you take the stage. I'm like, but I'm not a rock star. You are. When you take the stage and it's a whole different energy.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Imagine people going, it's Chloe from 24, and I'm like, hi guys. I just learned by throwing myself into that fire, like, oh, I have to match at least what their images of me and then more I've got to bring myself,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because they're coming to see someone famous. They're coming to see their favorite character on a TV show, whatever it is, and that's what they want. That's what they

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Want. Got to represent your work. Otherwise it's like, why is this guy,

    Michael Jamin:

    Why is this guy here?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Or it's like, what is that?

    Michael Jamin:

    They don't want that. That's exactly right. They don't want that.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That is the equivalent of a strong choice out of the gate, a clear intention, but

    Michael Jamin:

    It felt like imposter syndrome, it felt like, but I'm not, it's too bad. That's what they want to see. That's what they paid to see. Yeah.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, that's great.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, so there's a bunch of stuff like that and also about Jesus, it's about giving, allowing, allowing there to be a silent moment for a second, which is terrifying. Oh

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah. I love the silences.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, it's different when you're reading from your book, but through the acting point of view is because you're listening.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's not meant to be like, here's what I'm saying. The words are an after effect of your intention and what you're reacting to.

    Michael Jamin:

    But in my case, there's an audience and it's dark. I can't see them. I know they're there. And so when you say I'm listening, I'm not hearing anything. I'm just sensing it, right?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Well, no, you're listening to, you are becoming a listener within your own material that you're presenting.

    Michael Jamin:

    You think I'm listening to myself,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    So you're like, standup is similar in that. I'm not explaining it so clearly, but it's like I had to learn in standup because I am an actor, that I'm the narrator, so I hold the space and I create the context, but I'm also the character within it. So it's the character that's listening. So you are presenting it. You're not the rockstar, but the character guy that's going to come. I'm telling you this story, and once I start telling you the story, I enter into that story and I become the character of the story.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. You have given this thing, this performing thing, a lot of thought, right? Am I right? You think about this a lot. I mean, most actors or I don't think people appreciate that as much talking like an artist would talk. I really think so, because you're saying you've given a lot of thought. You're explaining the thought. You don't just go up there and talk. That's not what you're doing. You've given it a lot of thought about what your obligation is to being on stage and how you have to, I guess, the obligation to the art that you create.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Another point of that listening thing goes back to the point of view, which you do when you're writing scripts in order to write through that person's voice. Voice, listen, that character listens in a certain way, so it's their perspective,

    Michael Jamin:

    But call on a little bit more about, okay, so what is it you think I have to do or B, when I'm on stage, give me some acting. Give me some lessons here.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Well, it depends on what you're saying, but I think I was going off of you saying the silences imagining you take a moment because you've just said something and you're wanting to sink in, or what you've said had a certain tone, certain or intention that you don't want to rush through because you've either just made a point or you expressed something in a certain way that needs space.

    Michael Jamin:

    It requires a lot of trust though, because when you take that space, you want the audience, I want to let you feel it. Just take a second to feel it. But the trust it requires is that they are actually feeling it.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That's right.

    Michael Jamin:

    And maybe they're not. That's the problem.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That's right. Space in between is the dangerous, and when you talk about on, when I see you on ig, talking about AI is like, this is the back and forth that we want. This is the we come together. I'm going to say something. I'm going to see if it affects you. I'm going to say it with an intention. Did you hear it the way that I intended or did something else happen? Making me think of those articles. When you press listen and it comes out in an AI voice,

    Michael Jamin:

    What people, that's what they don't get. Yeah, that's what they don't get. When I talk about can AI do what artists do? And they go, yes, they can. I've already seen it, and they're like, I don't think you understand the thought that we put into this. I think you're missing what we try to do here.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    And you do that all the time, because I've watched a lot of your clips lately where you'll be explaining something and then you'll digress and go into a joke, and you're immediately without thinking about it because you thought of the joke, and then you're acting it out, and then you're going back to what you're saying. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    But sometimes even when I watch myself, I go, eh, I did it better in my head.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Exactly.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's exactly right. Yeah. But to me, so I'm glad you said this. I think that it actually helps me. That's the part that I was getting stuck on, the trusting that the audience is feeling what I want to feel in that silence and that they're not doing this or whatever.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Right now, you're in the position to deliver it, usually giving your script to someone else and going, you be in the Deliver it walk. I'll tell you, if you're delivering it, now you're in the driver's seat of that,

    Michael Jamin:

    And it really gives me a new appreciation for really how hard it is. And by the way, do it 10 times while the cameras are over here and while people are walking and, oh, this is going on. We need you to be in that moment 10 times and oh, off walk and go and now, yeah, it's a hard job being in that moment. Yeah,

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That's the weirdest part.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do it now.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah, because you're making yourself vulnerable again and again, and you're coming to that point over of jumping off. I remember I was at school, it was like a game of throne sketch and there was another mom, and it was just that we were out on the lawn of the school and it was something for the fundraiser and one of the other moms were joking around, I'm doing my bit, and the camera turns to her and she's got whatever it was, whatever spoof of somebody wrote, it turns to her and she went and she got it, fucked her up. And I started laughing and I was like, yeah, it's humiliating. And she had to say, it was like one line as my dragons, and she just went, ah. And I watched her just crumble. And I go, yeah, yeah, yeah. That moment every time you hit that point of humiliation because you've got to open up and commit and put yourself out there to make an ass of yourself or put the most tender parts of yourself, you're getting ready for the moment and then when the moment happens, I don't know. It's a weird thing you're showing up. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Exactly. You said it perfectly. I totally understand that. And so she just thought this was going to be easy and it made you laugh because it's like, see, this is every day I got to do this

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Weird thing. Well, I don't know why someone is holding a camera. They just turned it on you and they said, say a certain thing in a certain way. How do you do that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It makes you self-conscious of your existence now you Right. And then what do you do then when you're on, when you become aware of your existence and your acting, what do you do?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you do? You're heads and the cameras are on you and you're like, oh fuck, I'm in a show. There's lights and everything.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    That's the question. Hopefully you get paid for it is what you do.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hopefully you

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Get paid to figure out,

    Michael Jamin:

    You get paid, right. But so do you talk to other actors a lot about this? Is this a conversation actress? Why not?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, but when I do, because I should more, it's actually is really, honestly, it's pretty invigorating. But I'll run into people and we'll sort of organically stumble upon it. Maybe there are people that talk about it. I don't, it's very nice when I get to have comradery like

    Michael Jamin:

    That. But when you've been on set and you surely you've worked with some, let's say, older, bigger stars, you don't ask 'em, Hey, how about some tips? What do you do?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Not really. I mean, there was one thing I wrote about it in my book called Ish, also my podcast at that. Woo. You do. But there

    Michael Jamin:

    Was one, and that's a great title by the way.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Thank you so much. It's on the 24 where I had to act to a blank computer screen, but someone I knew or cared about was being tortured. But in the moment it was like go and I was just by myself in front of a blank computer screen and I did ask Kiefer's advice and it was super helpful. And he really actually stood off screen and talked me through it. So he became my partner and he was telling me what I was seeing. So he helped me with some.

    Michael Jamin:

    What was the advice he gave specifically, do you remember?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It wasn't really advice, he just helped me. It was like, okay, he's on the bike, the guys are coming up to him. They grabbed his head, he fell on the ground. So I was reacting. He was acting out the scene for me

    Michael Jamin:

    And he

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Letting me know that I wasn't crazy for going, how do you do this? I'm sitting in front of the blank screen. And so in that moment, from that point on, if he wasn't there, I knew how to, I'm just creating that in my head.

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of people think that's the job of the director on a TV show, but often there's really no time for them to even do any of that, right?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    Correct. They're thinking of a bunch of different things and they might course correct you, but they're not giving you, this is the actor's work is to know all that. They'll make adjustments along the way, but they're looking at all these other aspects at the same time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's not what maybe you think it is. It's not like a rehearsal time. It's like, no, you show up to work. Go and go. Did you study? Did you train a lot for, where did you train for?

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    No, I was lucky enough to get very much on the job training

    Michael Jamin:

    Because the way you talk about it, it makes it sound like you did study.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I mean, I've taken a couple classes here or there, but nothing. It was sort of on the fly. I did acting in high school, so I knew I sort of knew what blocking was, but I really got schooled. I got schooled by Gary Shambling. I was already on the Larry Show, and I put this in my book too, and he's like, cut. And he looks at me and he goes, what are you thinking? I was like, oh, because he called me out because I wasn't anything. And I was like, and he goes, you need to know what your character is thinking. I was reacting and I was interesting, but at the moment he knew there was a backstory that I was supposed to have in my mind and I didn't. And he called me out on it. And from that point forward, I was like, oh, subtext. I was just like a part. I just happened to be whatever, lucky enough to be interesting or have certain qualities. I got hired and I sort of instinctually did it. But from that moment on, I was like, subtext, subtext, subtext.

    Michael Jamin:

    So this discussion we just had, these are just basically questions you've been asking yourself over the course of your career and thinking about Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which is so interesting. Like other actors, you're talking about stuff that's been taught and you came to it yourself, and it's only the way you came to it is because you have to ask these questions. If you're an actor, it doesn't matter if it's your teacher teaches you or you figure it out yourself, it all leads to the truth, which is what you have to do. Or

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    A lot of times it's like how to make something work like you're hired or even you're asked to do a comedy sketch and it's like, how do I sell this joke, but be true to the intention, but move the scene forward. Also, it could be anything. It could be like, oh, I'm at a table so that I am not seeing that thing that would've caused me to react. It's just, yeah, you're always being asked questions. How do I thing quickly or whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's a shame that our show didn't go, we could have had this discussion 10 years ago.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I know we really could have been creating episodes

    Michael Jamin:

    And talking about stuff and making art or something, but instead we have podcasts. Well, I guess we could wrap, but I've taken so much of your time. But I want to thank you so much for, let's talk about, let's plug your podcast one more time and make sure, is there any, well, I don't know when this is going to drop, or also I'd say see you on the road, but you must have a website where people could find out where they can follow you on the road or your Instagram or something.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    It's Mary Lynn, mary lynn.com. Follow me on Instagram and go check out at that. Will you do in between listening to your podcast?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yeah. Go. Definitely check it out. And yeah, it's interesting. I think this will have people have a new appreciation for what you do because you make it look easy, but it's not, you put a lot of thought into this.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    I love it. I really do. So, so great. I'm so happy that you're having all this success on social because you're just very natural and insightful and inquisitive and caring and thoughtful.

    Michael Jamin:

    I hope so. That's the character I play. That's my character.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub:

    You're a factor.

    Michael Jamin:

    My character is nicer than I am. But thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining me, and don't go anywhere I was. Thank you. One more time as we sign up. Alright everyone, another interesting talk about art and writing and creativity. Thank you so much. Until next week, keep writing or doing whatever it's you're doing.

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

    1h 7m | Jan 3, 2024
  • Ep 113 - Actor Chris Gorham

    On this week's episode, I have actor Chris Gorham, (Out of Practice, The Lincoln Lawyer, NCIS: Los Angeles and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also discuss the work-life balance he has with his family and some of the things he wishes more actors were aware of while filming. There is so much more, so tune in.

    Show Notes

    Chris Gorham on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisgorham/

    Chris Gorham IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0330913/

    Chris Gorham on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Gorham

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Chris Gorham:

    But in getting to know them and talking to them, Almost all of them had day jobs, like worked for the city, Worked, worked for construction crews. They had full-on-day Jobs. Some of them were Entrepreneurs, some of them worked in government. And that was a New idea to me because that hadn't been my experience here. But as the income and equality has increased so dramatically, It feels like that's where our business has been going, where everybody has to have another,

    Michael Jamin:

    You are listening to, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Chris Gorham:

    Like my backdrop, this is my, oh, I love it. Official SAG after LA delegate backdrop that we used him during the convention.

    Michael Jamin:

    I know you're a big show. We're starting already. I'm here with Chris Gorham, and he is an actor I worked with many years ago on a show called Out of Practice. He's one of the stars that was a show with starting Henry Winkler, stocker Channing, Ty Burrell, Chris Gorham, and Paul Marshall. It was a great show on CBS and only lasted a season. But Chris, Chris is about as successful working actors as you can, short of being like someone like Brad Pitt, who's known across the world. You've done a ton of TV shows, and I'm going to blow through them real fast here.

    Chris Gorham:

    Okay. You can, I can't talk about them still, but your strike is over so you can,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, right, because Chris is, I guess he's in sag and actually you're one of the members, you're one of the, what do you call yourself, the king? So

    Chris Gorham:

    I'm the king of SAG aftra. No, I was elected to be on the LA local board and also elected as a delegate. So that's what this background was. Our official LA delegate background for

    Michael Jamin:

    The research delegate for for the model. What does that mean

    Chris Gorham:

    For the convention? Yeah. It's kind of reminiscent of Model un. So it's the convention that happens every two years where all the delegates get together and we elect the executive vice president, and there's certain offices that get elected by the delegate membership.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't think we have that in the Writer's Guild. I think we have a direct democracy. You, I guess have a representative democracy.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Yeah. It's a much bigger union. How big

    Michael Jamin:

    Is it? How big do you know? About

    Chris Gorham:

    160,000 members.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Okay. Members, but that's active members. And what do you have to be to be an active member?

    Chris Gorham:

    What do you have to be? Do

    Michael Jamin:

    You have to sell? You have to work a certain amount or something?

    Chris Gorham:

    No, once you're in, you can stay in as long as you pay your dues

    Michael Jamin:

    Every year. Oh, okay. But then that doesn't mean you get health. You have to qualify for health insurance and stuff like that. Correct.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, it's a big part of the strike. It's one of our big talking points really is only about 13% and just under 13% earn enough to qualify for our healthcare plan. And I mean, that's only about $26,700 a year to qualify for healthcare.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a big deal. I mean, healthcare, healthcare. So most people don't realize this, and it seems so naive to say this, but I get so many comments when on social media, all these actors are millionaires. Dude, what are you talking about? You can be a working actor and book two gig. You're lucky if you do two gigs a year. And

    Chris Gorham:

    Well listen, it goes to the heart of what this strike is about is that it's worse than people even think because just to what's the best way to talk about it? So a big part of our asked during this negotiation is a big increase in the contributions to our health and pension plan by the producers. And the reason is that they haven't increased it in a long, long, long, long time. So for instance, one person could work, let's say you got hired to do an episode and got paid very well, right? For one episode. Let's say you're getting it, it's an anthology show. They're paying the top two people like series regulars, and you're getting a hundred grand for one episode. So you would think a hundred thousand dollars. That is a lot of money for one episode. If I'm doing that, I am clear. Definitely qualify. You do not qualify for healthcare because you've only done one episode and the producers only have to contribute up to a certain amount. So even though you've made a hundred grand in one episode, you still have to book another job, at least one more

    Michael Jamin:

    And clear,

    Chris Gorham:

    Not going to qualify for healthcare.

    Michael Jamin:

    I've produced a lot of shows. I don't recall ever paying a guest star anywhere close to a hundred thousand an episode. No, not even close.

    Chris Gorham:

    No, no. And the minimums have, right now, I think for a drama, the minimum's around $9,000, maybe a little more than that for an episode for top of Show guest start like the top paid guest shows on those shows. Yeah, you can't. And it's become almost impossible to negotiate a rate higher than the minimums.

    Michael Jamin:

    You can have a quote and they go, well, that's too bad. This is what we're paying you.

    Chris Gorham:

    Correct. This is what we're paying you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Let me just run through some of yours so people know who we're talking about because some people are listening to it. So Chris is, I'm going to blow some of his bigger parts, but he works so much. So let's start with Party of Five where you did four episodes, which I love that show. I just had to mention that, but of course, popular. You did a ton of those. Felicity, remember that? Odyssey five, Jake 2.0, which you started in medical investigation out of practice, which I mentioned Harper's Island Ugly Betty, Betty Laa, which I loved, of course, covert Affairs and what else? I'm going through your list here. Full Circle two Broke Girls. You worked with two of the broke girls and insatiable the Lincoln lawyer, and that doesn't include any of your guest chart. So you are incredibly successful actor and you've strung, actually, I want to hit on something. Sure. So this is a little embarrassing on my part. We had a technical, this is our second interview because I had technical errors on my point. I'm not that good with technology, even though I've done well over a hundred episodes of this, and Chris graciously allowed me to do this over. But one of the things that you said, the thing that struck me the most during our last talk, which I found incredibly interesting and humble, I said to you, Chris, how do you choose your roles? And do you remember what you said to me?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah. I said, I should be so lucky. Yeah. The reality is, it's like actors like me. I've had a lot of conversations with actors like me who star on television shows, multiple television shows, and we all joke about how many times we've been asked in interviews. The question

    Michael Jamin:

    Really,

    Chris Gorham:

    Why did you choose this to be your next project?

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Well, I wanted to eat. That's why.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah, yeah. Because I think journalists sometimes forget, and they think that we're all to use your example, Brad Pitt, and that we're being sent scripts and we get to choose what our next project is, but in reality, that is not at all. What happens, what happens for the vast majority of us is we are sent auditions. Sometimes we get the scripts, sometimes we don't. And we put ourselves now what used to be going to the casting office. Now we put ourselves on tape and we send it off into the void, and we hope that we get hired.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you'll work on a part. When you do get the script, how long will you spend preparing for that before you submit your tape?

    Chris Gorham:

    Oh, it depends mostly on two things. One, how many pages it is, and then it depends on how well written it's, to be honest. You've heard this before.

    Michael Jamin:

    Go ahead. Tell me.

    Chris Gorham:

    The better the writing, the easier it is to memorize.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And explain why that is.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, the reason is is because it makes sense. If it's written like a human being talks, then the next sentence follows from the sentence before. If you understand the emotion of what's going on, then it just makes sense and the dialogue flows and it's just so much easier to memorize. The stuff that's always the hardest is when you're the character that's laying pipe and you're just spewing out exposition and it's not really coming. Listen, the good writers are always trying to tie it down to that emotional reality, but sometimes you got to lay pipe, and that's stuff's always the hardest, particularly if it's a bunch of medical jargon or legal jargon. That kind of stuff is crazy.

    Michael Jamin:

    And what people don't also realize, I think, is when you're starting out an actor, oh, I could play everything. I could play a villain. I could play a teacher, I could play a biker, I could play a doctor. That's fine when you're in your high school play, but in Hollywood, you're going to be cast the part that you are closest to because if not, we will cast someone who looks like a biker or who was a biker, and we'll cast someone who looks like a doctor. Right? Yeah. So you have to figure out who you are, basically.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Well, it's one of the, I went to theater school at UCLA and I was very lucky because during my freshman year, they decided to start a conservatory program within the theater program there. So we all auditioned and I got into this conservatory program. So for my last three years, it was conservatory training, and I still got my bachelor of arts degree from UCLA. It was the best of both worlds. One of the things that I felt like a few years out after having it is I wished they had spent a little bit more time helping us learn how to act like ourselves. You spend so much time in theater school, learning how to stretch your creativity, working on your voice, working on your body movement, body awareness, vocal awareness, and then learning how to play all these different kinds of parts and all the plays you're doing. All the parts are filled from college students. So sometimes you're playing an old man, sometimes you're playing a young woman who knows. But the second you start auditioning for roles professionally, you're only going to be seen for roles that you physically look like. And so it's really important to quickly learn if you haven't already, how to be you. Right. How do you do that version of you?

    Michael Jamin:

    Where do you begin with that?

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, it takes practice. We used to do an exercise. It was in one of the very beginning acting classes. In fact, I didn't even take this acting class. I was observing, I think my senior year, one of the grad students was teaching it. And it was just as simple as everybody got in circle and instead of being crazy and dancing like a tree or whatever, it was literally, it was just walk across. Just walk from point A to point B. Just you just don't do anything. Just walk from what, and you would be surprised how difficult that can be because

    Michael Jamin:

    You become self-conscious of what you're

    Chris Gorham:

    Exactly right. You become and you feel like you should do something mean. And especially for a bunch of theater kids who've kind of grown up in their theater school, all high schools and stuff all over, it's all about being big, and it's all about the jokes and getting attention and to let all of that go and just be in the market is a very difficult thing for a lot of people. But it's super, super important. And that carries through forever. Just being just be there. You don't have to do anything, particularly when you have a camera on you, and particularly when it's time for your closeup, you don't have to do a lot. You just have to be there and be present and alive in the scene.

    Michael Jamin:

    But so much, I think some people, they greatly underestimate how difficult acting is because it looks like make-believe and whatever. We're just, you're having fun on the camera, but to be in the moment, especially when the cameras are on you and everyone's watching in, go hurry up and go, because we've set up the scene for half hour and we want you to shoot it now. And it's so hard to stay in the moment, I think. So how do you stay in the moment when you become conscious that you're acting

    Chris Gorham:

    Now? If I become conscious that I'm acting now, I'll just stop.

    Michael Jamin:

    You will

    Chris Gorham:

    Often I'll just stop and say, can we start over? Can we just go back to the top because for whatever reason, and then go again. Because if I'm conscious, then I'm not in a scene, then it's not going to work and they're not going to be able to use it. So I would just stop and go back. I mean, it's the great advantage of film, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    But you do much theater anymore, because that's different when you're on stage.

    Chris Gorham:

    I only feel like benefits and things for years. We're rehearsing for one this weekend, we're doing the Girls Benefit to raise money for breast cancer research.

    Michael Jamin:

    So it's one show.

    Chris Gorham:

    It's one show. I mean, for me, I've been a single income family of five for almost 23 years. So with that, I haven't able to afford to go and do theater, but I miss it. I love it. I did two weeks, 14 years ago, I did two weeks in Spalding Gray Stories left to Tell in New York off Broadway.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? So you were Spalding Gray, I mean, it's a one man show,

    Chris Gorham:

    Right? Yeah, yeah. Well, it's a one man show split into five different personalities. So it's different parts of him. And so the business part, they would swap out celebrities every two weeks. And so I came in and did that for two weeks, and it was the best.

    Michael Jamin:

    And this was in New York?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's amazing. How did something like that come up? How do you get that?

    Chris Gorham:

    I don't know. I don't remember. I don't mean it must've come through my agents or my manager. I don't remember. I don't remember.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. How interesting.

    Chris Gorham:

    Because now, I was just going to say now, it's been so long since I've done, I've become, I'm so out of the loop of LA theater in particular, which is kind of more feasible for me at this point, just because it's close and easy. I don't even really know how to get back in. In fact, one of my youngest was doing a summer theater camp at Annoys Within, and it's close to where we are. So I was trying to figure out, I reached out to my manager, I was like, Hey, is really close. Is there, are they doing anything that would make sense for me to do something with them over there? They were like, yeah, that's a great idea. And they never heard anything. So I just emailed them my photo and resume with a letter, and I never heard anything back. So I literally, I don't even know how to approach getting cast in theater anymore,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because your agent, there's not enough money for your agent to work on it.

    Chris Gorham:

    They couldn't be less interested.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm always curious how that works. We just saw a show at the Pasadena Playhouse and I was like, well, how do these actors, how do they, yeah, if

    Chris Gorham:

    You find out, let me know the Playhouse also write down the street. It'd be amazing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, there's always some, but then again, you would have to commit to something. And during that time period, let's say it was two months, you can't take other work you've committed and something big could come along, who knows? I

    Chris Gorham:

    Mean, maybe. But also that is, you live with that fear all the time, no matter what

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you mean even if you're on a show, you mean?

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, not if you're on a show, then you're working well, then you worry about the show being canceled and then that you're never going to work again. But when you're not working, well, this brings up two thoughts. One is there's a fear of taking something that's not the big thing, because you are afraid that if you do this smaller thing that it's going to conflict with the big thing that might be just around the court. And the other thought that it brings up is I talked with so many actors over the years who are not working and are really struggling and feel paralyzed about going to try and do anything else because there's this intense peer pressure that, well, you can't quit. You can't quit now that your moment, it might be just around the corner, it might be the next audition.

    Michael Jamin:

    You mean quit Hollywood and do something for a different career, you

    Chris Gorham:

    Mean? Yeah, go do something else. You got to hang in. You got to hang in. And I feel like it's a really difficult balancing act because the truth is that this business is really, really hard to go back to the strike. It's gotten increasingly difficult to the point where it's almost impossible with an actor to make a living, to be able to raise a family, to be able to put your kids through college and those kind of life things that are important to so many of us.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I know, and that's why you fight and that's why you fight. And that's why it's so people think, well, so what for actors? But the problem is like you're saying, if actors can't make a living in between or you're starring in a show, that's great, but the show will probably get canceled up to one season. But you still need to keep a healthy talent pool of actors who can continue to keep a living, because if they can't, they're going to leave. And then how are you going to cast as writers and producers? How do you cast this part if there's not a healthy talent pool? That's

    Chris Gorham:

    It. That's it. We can't continue paying the stars these massive, massive, massive amounts of money and having everybody else working on these tiny minimums because it's unsustainable. The best and the brightest of us that haven't won the lottery are going to go do other things because there's more to life and life. You can be an actor without pursuing it as a career.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I haven't heard those notions come up at all. Maybe I'm not just tuned in, but the idea of, well, maybe we're paying the stars too much, or has that been a discussion at all?

    Chris Gorham:

    I mean, I have that discussion. Yeah. Oh, really? Well, yeah, because it's not that, well, certainly for me, and not so much from my personal experience, but just from my kind of bleeding heart observations of this business, when you see movies, it's why, like I've said for a long time, the only way now to make a living in this business is if you're a star or a series regular on a TV show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yes, I agree with that. It's the

    Chris Gorham:

    Only way because all of the supporting cast, none of the supporting cast makes enough money to make a consistent living in this business because your stars get massive amounts of money. Everyone else is working scale, and the minimums have not risen nearly enough to make it enough. And the stars, well, this is the excuse the studios use, is that they're paying the stars so much. There's no money left to pay anybody else over scale, so no one else can negotiate over scale. And in tv it's a similar thing. So it just makes it very difficult.

    Michael Jamin:

    And not only that, LA has always been an expensive city to live, but now it's crazy. It's like crazy. I can't afford, if I hadn't bought my house when I did it, I couldn't even come close to affording this house and have a middle class house. It's something special about it. So these are the issues that actors are fighting over. Yeah, it's an important, it's so interesting when you hear your friends or colleagues thinking about leaving, do they tell you what they're going to do or what they want to do? It's such a hard thing when you're middle aged, what are you going to do?

    Chris Gorham:

    Right. No, it's true. It's true. No, I have some friends that have gone into teaching.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Most of my actor friends are still around. Have one friend who started the business ages ago and still runs that business while she's worked periodically as an actor throughout all of these years. And she still works frequently, but her main income is from this business that she created. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    She's very, so you got to be entrepreneurial, basically. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. It's funny. I did a movie early in my career where we shot in Tonga and New Zealand, and we had a lot of New Zealand actors were working on this film and in talk, and some of them were quite famous in New Zealand. They were working on this famous New Zealand TV show, like legitimate celebrities. But in getting to know them and talking to them, almost all of them had day jobs, worked for the city, worked, worked in construction crews. They have full on day jobs. Some of them were entrepreneurs, some of them worked in government. And that was a new idea to me because that hadn't been my experience here. But as the income inequality has increased so dramatically, it feels like that's where our business has been going, where everybody has to have another gig.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    It didn't used to be that way. And I don't think that it has to be that way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I agree with you. Yeah. I mean, it's definitely, yeah, it seems very unfair. It doesn't seem, well, I mean, I guess all things is fair about being an actor. Being an actor has always been a pursuit of like, well, is there anything else you could do? Then choose that? But true, it seems like now it's like, I don't know. What do you do? What recommend then for people, young kids or kids, whatever, 20 year olds who considering getting into the business?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah, I mean, that advice I think is evergreen. That if you can go do something else as a career, absolutely do something else as a career. Oftentimes the advice I give is when you're young, spend a lot less time thinking about what you want to be when you grow up and spend a lot more time thinking about what kind of life you want to live when you grow up, what kind of things do you want to do? And then you can find career paths that will allow you to live the kind of life you want to live. And it becomes less obsessed with having a certain job.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, that's something to consider. So for you as a working actor, sometimes you'll be on location, you might be in a different city. Is that something you away from your family, which is hard as you were raised in a family, is that something you considered? Is that something you would reconsider now?

    Chris Gorham:

    I had no idea. I grew up in Fresno, California. My mom was a school nurse. My dad was an accountant. They didn't know what to do with me, and I didn't know anything about the business. I wanted to be. Yeah, I didn't know. Yeah. I had no idea. And so my first, and I was very fortunate. I got out of school, I started, I got my union card in 1996, the year I got out of school was booking occasional guest stars on things. My first job was one scene in a movie with two big movie stars, big famous director. It was awesome. And then I booked my first series just three years after school. Cool. And it was shot at Disney. It was like 10 minutes away from our little place we were renting. And then it was canceled and it came out of nowhere. And then I was very fortunate again. I booked another series two weeks later, but that one shot until long

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Chris Gorham:

    I had no idea what that meant. And I left to do that pilot six weeks after our first born son, our firstborn was born. So my wife, anal had no idea what no idea we were doing. Suddenly we had a newborn baby, six weeks old, and then I'm gone for five weeks. It was extraordinarily difficult.

    Michael Jamin:

    I apologize. Something must be open and I have to shut it down because someone's, I'm sorry.

    Chris Gorham:

    Oh, no worries. Okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought everything shut. But yeah, so to continue, so that's heartbreaking. You have a brand new baby and you're out of town. You left here.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. It was hard. And we didn't, because we didn't grow up here, so we had no experience. I don't know how to do this. And no one was really kind explaining to us, okay, this is how you get through this. These are the different ways you can do it. These are the options. You know what I mean? I didn't have anybody, I didn't have a mentor or somebody guiding me in how to do this thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    But at any point in your career, you must, because worked for so many actors, you must have at some point found someone a little older and wiser. Right?

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, the closest thing we had was Anelle had Stacey Winkler. It was really sweet. Anelle used to sit next to Stacey Winkler at every taping, and they would just talk and Stacey would give her advice, and it was great. One week, Anelle come to the taping, and the next week Stacey scolded her and was like, you have to be here every week and let everyone know that that is your husband.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. I remember she came to, I think every out of practice,

    Chris Gorham:

    Everyone.

    Michael Jamin:

    So why is it about staking your territory? What was that? Or is this being supportive?

    Chris Gorham:

    What was it? No, I think it was both, but I think partly staking your territory. I was the young guy, the young handsome guy on this show, and it's a CVS show, and so she was like, you need to be here. But then it was also she said, but then he's the star here at work. You have to make sure that when you get home, the kids are the star, not him. You have to make it very

    Michael Jamin:

    Clear. Was there a difficulty for you? Is it hard to go home and not be the star? What was that like?

    Chris Gorham:

    I had gotten pretty good at it, certainly by then. But I would imagine looking back in the beginning, it's kind of that power corrupt and absolute power. Corrupt absolutely. Of course can go to your head when you are getting a little famous and you're making some money. And when you're at work, you are catered to, you're one of the stars of the show. You're catered to a handed foot. Everything's taken care of. I've described it as series regulars are treated like fancy

    Michael Jamin:

    Babies on set.

    Chris Gorham:

    Don't upset the babies. You need to keep them safe at all times. You need to keep them comfortable at all times. You don't want them crying. You don't want them cranky. You need to keep them fully regulated because when everything's ready to roll, we need the fancy babies to be able to perform. And as soon as they're done, we want them to go back to their cribs slash trailers so that then the grownups can finish getting everything ready for the next shot.

    Michael Jamin:

    And imagine giving this kind of pressure to a child actor. I mean, have you worked with many child actors?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah, many over the years, and I can say almost all of it. Almost all of it's been a good experience. I haven't had any total nightmares with child doctors. That being said, every parent that's asked us about getting their kid into the business, we have always advised against it. And we didn't encourage any of our kids to get into it.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's rough. I haven't worked with many child, I just haven't been on shows with a lot of kids. And I am glad because I have a feeling I would when a kid is messing around on set in between takes or just not being professional because they're acting like children the way they are supposed to act. In my mind I would be thinking, stop fucking around. This is work. I know that's what I would be thinking, which is an awful thing to put on a child. But that's what you're paying them a lot of money to do. It's a hard position. I don't know. I just feel for those kids, I just feel like, yeah, I know. That's where Ill be thinking. Hopefully I wouldn't be saying it. Yeah,

    Chris Gorham:

    It's difficult. It's very, I mean, sets are, they're not for kids. They're an adult work environments, which by the way, some adult working actors need to be reminded occasionally that these are adult working environments. This is not your personal playground. But yeah, it's a difficult environment for kids. So I mean, you need them. So I'm grateful that they're there.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think that too sometimes. Sometimes I'll see an actor goofing around too much, and we're all, I'm like, dude, let's get out of here. All the crew wants to go home. They've been working 12 hour days for the past week and a half. They want to go home too.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, let me tell you, this is one of the things where with every showrunner that I've become friendly with, I highly encourage them, if at all possible, to bring their series regulars behind the curtain and bring them to at least one production meeting that show them how the sausage really gets made, expose them to all of the other incredibly creative, intelligent, wonderful people who make up this team that makes the TV show or the film. Because then they get to see, because as cast, especially as the stars of the show or the film, you really are treated as if you are the most important cog in this machine. And it's really helpful, I think, and just the team morale, if actors understand that they are a very important cog in that machine, but just one of the cogs in the machine. You

    Michael Jamin:

    Said you learned this, I think when you first were directing, you started directing episodes of the shows, you weren't, right?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. I had think a basic actor's understanding of how things work on set. And I'm not to blow my own horn. I'm generally a nice person. So I'm kind to people. I'm nice to everybody on set. I learned people's names. I generally understood what people did, but only when I started directing did I really understand just how incredible the whole ensemble is and how much the rest of the team has to offer and is contributing to the show or the film. It was just a level of respect that I don't think I could really have until I was allowed behind the curtain to see how it was happening. So what

    Michael Jamin:

    Would you recommend? Would you recommend that every week one actor attends a production meeting? Is that what you're saying?

    Chris Gorham:

    Listen, that's one way to do it. Right. However it works for that showrunner, for that production, I would just encourage them because I just feel like so often, and I think, I don't know if it's true now, but I've talked to showrunners in the past that have talked about the show and the training program and about the message they got was to keep the cast at arm's length. Really? Yeah. And there certainly can be good reasons for doing that. I can understand why that sometimes makes the job easier, certainly, and sometimes maybe makes it possible. But I just think there's more to gain by bringing them in to letting them see, really meet the whole team and get to know the whole team. And because there's just, I mean, truly, you see what the set designers do, and you see what the customers do, and you see, we get to understand how lighting works. You know what I mean? It's just how hard the ads work on putting together with the schedule and learn why the schedule gets put way put together the way it gets put together. And once you understand it, then maybe you're a little less mad about having to be last in on Friday, two weeks in a row.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    You see, it's like they're not out to get you. They are trying to accommodate you, and you are not the only factor that is being accommodated.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're talking about the writers now?

    Chris Gorham:

    No, I was talking about the cast look, in regards to schedule casting,

    Michael Jamin:

    Very, very frustrated

    Chris Gorham:

    About scheduling.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I see. Yeah, that's always right. I can see why that would be frustrating. So what happens? You get a call sheet and you're told to come in whatever, 8:00 AM and they don't get to shoot your part until 1:00 PM and you're like, why did they call me in so early? And sometimes it just happens. It works out that way

    Chris Gorham:

    Sometimes. Yeah. They're trying. They're trying. And sometimes it just doesn't work out. And with the scripts, with writers, it's a similar kinds of thing. It's like once you understand how many chefs are in the kitchen of getting these scripts, these stories broken, and then these scripts written how many notes the writer has gotten about their script from the studio and then from the network before it ever gets to the cast.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're making me anxious just talking about it. No joke.

    Chris Gorham:

    Sorry. And then that's why as a cast member, when you then go to the writer and say, Hey, can I ask you about this? Your writer looks like they're dying a little inside.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. No, no, I can't do that.

    Chris Gorham:

    And it's like, so the best writers that I've worked with have always been very organized about how actors give notes. They're like, if we're doing table reads on a show, they'll be like, look, we're going to do the table read. Everybody's got 24 hours to give whatever notes or feedback you've got about the script. And then after that, we're considering it locked. Please respect that once you're on. The idea being that you don't want to spend a lot of time on the day when you're there waiting to shoot, talking about suddenly having questions about the scene and asking it to be rewritten. That's not the term.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's not. And because we have to get next week's script and next week's script is a disaster. I'm telling you, it's in terrible shape. That's how it always is.

    So you want to worry about this. What about the crashing plane out there? That's going to be, I remember, I have to show, I can't remember if I mentioned this last time we spoke, but one of my favorite experiences of working in Hollywood was when I was an out of practice, and I can't remember what I was doing. I think the showrunner, Chris, I think he had me deliver pages up to the actress. It was show night right before the show, and I don't know why it was made, but for some reason, I remember carrying a couple of scripts to the dressing room maybe an hour before the showtime, and you guys were all there, the whole cast, and you're holding hands. And Henry's like, come on, Michael, come on in, come on. And I'm like, what's going on right here? And you're all just holding hands. And he goes, and he invited me in. I'm like, but I'm a writer. What do you mean? No, grab some hands. So I remember taking who, who's hands? I don't know, but I'm in the middle. I'm with a circle. I'm holding hands. I'm like, what is going on here? And then you guys did, I don't know what you would call it, but it was some kind of, it's

    Chris Gorham:

    Like a little vocal warmup or something. No,

    Michael Jamin:

    It was almost like a blessing. It was like a blessing. It was almost like, what's it, we are here to, I am curious if you've done this since then. It was like, we are here to support each other. We're going to have a wonderful show. We're all together. We're a family. And it was almost spiritual. It was very, I guess you haven't done that. You don't remember this.

    Chris Gorham:

    I remember doing that. I don't remember that specific moment. But that was all Henry.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it wasn't every week that you guys did

    Chris Gorham:

    That. Every week we did that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Okay.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Every week it was our ritual, but Henry started as the ritual before we went down to start the show. We would have this time just with a cast or occasionally with a writer who'd come in.

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought it was a beautiful moment. I really did.

    Chris Gorham:

    It was really great on dramas. You don't do that because you don't have that moment where you're all together about to go start the show. That's already happened to me on sitcoms.

    Michael Jamin:

    So maybe it's a theater thing then. Do you think

    Chris Gorham:

    For sure it's a theater thing. Yes. Yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. So tell me, this happens on other employees always before every show or before every night. Opening night every night. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    I mean, of course it depends on the show, right? It depends on who's there and who's, but yeah, thinking back, even when I was a kid in Fresno doing local theater, they would always feed circle up right before Showtime.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that what they call, is there a name for this circle up? What is it?

    Chris Gorham:

    No, no. That's just what I'm

    Michael Jamin:

    Using. So there's no name

    Chris Gorham:

    For you get in the huddle. You get in the huddle.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I really thought, I still remember it. I was touched by it that this is something that you guys did to support each other so that you could hold space and feel safe in front of a crowd and know it was a very team thing. And I was like, wow. I felt almost like I was invading it. I felt like I don't belong here because I'm not on stage with you guys. But that's what I remember. It struck me. Something else that always struck me was how well guest stars were greeted by the regular cast. That's a very, very position. You've been on both sides of that,

    Chris Gorham:

    Right? Yeah, for sure.

    Michael Jamin:

    For sure. What's that on both sides for you?

    Chris Gorham:

    I've worked on shows where I have, where series regulators never spoke to me. We were in a scene together, but outside of the scene never spoke to me.

    Michael Jamin:

    So action. And this is the first time you're talking to them.

    Chris Gorham:

    Correct.

    Michael Jamin:

    I suppose that could be good if your characters were just meeting for the first time, but is there

    Chris Gorham:

    Sure. I guess. I guess

    Michael Jamin:

    I guess.

    Chris Gorham:

    But we could, we're professionals. We could pretend. But that was pretty early in my career. Now I don't really have that experience anymore. But also, I took it with me and I made it a point, having had that happen once or twice early in my career, that once I was the series regular, I've always made it a point to never ever do that,

    Michael Jamin:

    To always welcome the guest star and just absolutely greet them. It's a hard thing to stay. I mean, think about it's the first day of school for them. Yeah. You're walking into, you don't know anybody. I,

    Chris Gorham:

    No, it's difficult enough. Like you said, this is a difficult job. And why make it harder on somebody who is coming in on the bottom of the rung of power at this show? Why would you use the very real power that you wield

    Michael Jamin:

    Show it's It is real.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Why would you wield that to make someone who's on your team, right? Uncomfortable. Why you?

    Michael Jamin:

    But we know these actors. I'm the star. I want you. I want to remind you. It's like, dude, we know. We know.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. There are people like that. I feel like that's the exception. It happens. Oh, really? But I feel like it's the exception.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    One thing we also spoke about, which was very interesting to me, was I don't know what they call now, I guess, what do they call? They call it sex coordinators. What is the role for those people

    Chris Gorham:

    Who, oh, intimacy

    Michael Jamin:

    Coordinators. Intimacy coordinators. But you mentioned that they have other functions. It is not just when two people are lying in bed, half naked. It's also for,

    Chris Gorham:

    So the way that I describe it to people who've never heard of intimacy coordinators is everyone's familiar with stunt coordinators. So stunt coordinators are brought onto a set to keep actors physically safe. Intimacy coordinators are brought onto a set to keep actors emotionally safe.

    Michael Jamin:

    And this is relatively new thing. Maybe what, five or 10 years or something? Maybe less,

    Chris Gorham:

    Right? Yes. New. And we are pushing to make them required. But one of the hurdles before we can make them a requirement like a stunt coordinator is required. One of the hurdles is actually getting enough intimacy coordinators qualified, trained and qualified to do this

    Michael Jamin:

    Job. Are most of them, are they therapists, counselors? What's their training, do you think? No,

    Chris Gorham:

    I think a lot of them come from the acting court. Really? Really? Yeah. Yeah. Because

    Michael Jamin:

    You mentioned it's not just that. It's also like if you have two characters yelling at each other in a scene, no sex, they're just yelling at each other that an intimacy record will talk to you afterwards, right?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. So here's a couple things that we did. I'd worked on a show where we had a scene, it was a sexual assault scene, but there were no clothes, there was no nudity and things stopped before things progressed to the point where we were physically exposed. But that kind of scene, you're very emotionally exposed, right? And this was my first time interviewing with an intimacy coordinator. I didn't really know what to expect. So there was a part of the conversation was, okay, for instance, it's written in the script that the other character is going to reach down and grab your groin. And I talked to the in music coordinator saying, I talked to the director and the director wants to see that. He said, are you comfortable with that? Here's what we have to protect you. We have a piece that's going to go between your pants and your underwear to protect your groin.

    And so when she grabs you, that's all she's grabbing. It was like, okay, great. That's super helpful actually. Great. I've never had that before. And it seemed like that. And it's nice. It makes me feel more comfortable. Certainly makes her feel more comfortable. Who wants to do that? Nobody. But then after the physical parts of discussion, then the conversation shifted. And she said, another thing that I've done with a lot of actors who've done scenes this, I would recommend that you put together a self-care routine for the end of the day. I was like, well, what do you mean? Like it could be anything. Whatever is going to be comforting to you. Some people, you might make a put things together. So you can draw a bubble bath when you get home. You might put together a playlist of music that makes you feel good.

    It might be pictures of your kids, could be whatever it is that is going to give comfort if you need it at the end of the day, because you never know what scenes like that might trigger. And that's the thing is you write scenes like this and it's necessary for the story, and you works as appropriate for the characters, but you never know what the actors as people, what their life experience has been. And they may have in their real life, been through an experience like that. And so then reenacting it can be very triggering. And it's the thing about acting when you're doing these emotional scenes, be it anger or big crying emotion, your body doesn't know you're pretending.

    Michael Jamin:

    Exactly.

    Chris Gorham:

    Exactly. So you mentally, well, this is pretend none of this is real. We're on a set crew numbers and friends, but your body doesn't know the difference. Once you're experiencing those emotions, you are experiencing those emotions and you never know what it's going to bring up. So that kind of care, emotional care, I thought is really great.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's like, you'll do this just so people are aware. If you have a scene where you're screaming and yelling or sexually assaulting someone or whatever, and your adrenaline's pumping and whatever, your, not hormones, but cortisol. Cortisol is racing, whatever. All this stuff is going through your head and your body doesn't know, and you're doing the scene a dozen times and it's very hard. I feel it's must be hard to wash that out of your system.

    Chris Gorham:

    Can be. It can be. I mean, that's the thing. And it's different for everybody. I ended up, I was okay at the end of the day. I was exhausted, but I felt okay. But I was glad that I'd put some thought into, if I'm not feeling okay, here's what I'm going to do, it's going to help me feel better. And just having thought about it, I think just helped.

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I don't think I've ever worked with an intimacy coordinator because in comedy we don't really do a lot of that. But is it always a sexually charged? Is that what the line is? It's not just drama. There always has to be some kind of sexual element when they're brought in. Is that what it

    Chris Gorham:

    Is? That's certainly how it started. And I think now it's one of the things, it's still new. We're figuring out when it, certainly on the sexual stuff, I'm trying to think. It was interesting. There was a resolution. I think there was a resolution that's going to be coming up the convention. There's lots of conversation about intimacy coordinators. But there was some conversation that had never crossed my mind. But once I was talking to someone about it, I thought, yeah, you know what that makes a lot of sense is bringing in intimacy coordinators when you're physically with children. Physically with children. So for instance, you are playing a dad and you're working with kids and you're getting in bed and cuddling with the kids at bedtime, or you're putting your daughter on your lap to have, because they had a rough day and you're cuddling and you know what I mean? And you're having physical contact with kids to have an intimacy coordinator there just to make, because again, you don't know what people's experiences been to protect the kids so that there's a conversation and there's somebody there watching. And I thought, you know what? Smart, that's a great idea.

    Michael Jamin:

    That is a really smart idea. Because we don't know what these kids have been through. We don't know.

    Chris Gorham:

    And again, most actors, most people in the world are caring, kind, certainly empathetic. That's their whole

    Michael Jamin:

    Job. That's the job.

    Chris Gorham:

    But just like any other profession, some people need help. Some people don't always have the best intentions, and some people don't always behave well. And so it's important. So yeah, I thought that was just such a good idea.

    Michael Jamin:

    I totally agree. We also spoke about how you handle it when you are working with an actor who maybe isn't as professional or prepared as you are in the scene and what you do. I thought it was interesting what you had to say.

    Chris Gorham:

    Okay, so huge pet peeve. For me. It's like, no, it really bugs me when you're working with someone who hasn't bothered to learn their dialogue. So that's a huge No-no. But then sometimes you are working with an actor who just isn't great, who just for whatever reason isn't great. So my strategy for dealing with that is I just basically start acting to an X. I just don't, whatever they're giving me is just bad. What I know is that the editor is going to cut around the bad performance and they're going to use me. So it's even more important for me to stay completely engaged in the scene. And it's an extra level of acting challenge because then you're acting. It's like, I don't know. It's working on one of the superhero movies or something where you just start treating them like a tennis ball and you do the scene regardless because you can't let them affect your performance. Your performance

    Michael Jamin:

    Performance

    Chris Gorham:

    Has to be there.

    Michael Jamin:

    But let's say you were working with a casting director. I've worked with many, obviously many, and some cast directors, they'll read with you, and some of them are not great actors. No

    Chris Gorham:

    Read bad.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then you have, as an actor, you were trained to react and to what they give you, but how do you deal with it when they're not giving you

    Chris Gorham:

    Enough? It is. It's really hard. It's one of the nice things about this whole self take resolution is that's kind of taken out of it because you've got, hopefully you have someone working with you that's going to give you something. And if not, you can do multiple takes and send the best one. It was always one of the most difficult things about auditioning in the room is when you are, and I've heard so many horror stories, I've experienced just a couple, but when you're doing your audition and the person you're reading with is garbage, and so much of it becomes, it's not like how convincing their reading is. For me, it was always a rhythm thing. It was like they just aren't listening. And so the rhythm gets completely screwed up. And it's like,

    Michael Jamin:

    I always feel for actors when they have to do this, you have a crappy sketching director. It's like, well, what so hard.

    Chris Gorham:

    Or you look up and the casting director's like on the phone,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's even worse. Eating

    Chris Gorham:

    Lunch and not this.

    Michael Jamin:

    If you prepared a scene and in this moment you're going to be hot, you're going to be yelling, and the casting director is not giving you enough for you to get angry at. So you're saying you just go ahead and do it the way you prepared, even though if the scene, but then it looks like you're almost looks like you're crazy. You're getting angry and the cast director's at the lunch. It's just something you got to deal with

    Chris Gorham:

    Because that's the scene. And they're probably, even when you were in the office, usually they were recording it. Right. So all they're going to see is your side.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Chris Gorham:

    So you have to do

    Michael Jamin:

    That's good advice.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I remember, this is years ago, we did a scene. We had this very famous actress. Actress. She was older, and we booked her and she came for the role and it was exciting to have her on set. She was very famous, but she should not be working. Her agent should not have booked her because I've

    Chris Gorham:

    Had an experience

    Michael Jamin:

    Like that too. Really? So maybe she had dementia. I felt terrible because she clearly had dementia or early signs of dementia, so she literally couldn't remember one line. So you'd feed her the line, and even still, she couldn't remember it half a second later. And I just felt she, I didn't know what to do. I was like, she's struggling here. She's probably feels very embarrassed, very lost. Very, why did her agent send her out for this book? Maybe because she needed the insurance. I don't know. But it was a horrible situation. I felt bad all around.

    Chris Gorham:

    I've worked with an actress who a very similar situation, and they went to cue cards and they just did it line by line.

    Michael Jamin:

    Even with QI wanted to bring in cue cards. The director said, I don't want to bring q. I was like, what are you doing, dude? This is awful. I lost that fight. I thought we needed cue cards. They just

    Chris Gorham:

    Shot her side line by line, and then I just did my side to an X.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting. That's one of the realities of being on a TV show.

    Chris Gorham:

    Totally. And it's one of the, but also why it's so important to not to get, just to do, at the end of the day, be responsible for your performance and make sure that you're giving the best performance that you can give and you can't control the other stuff that's happening. And then as an actor, then trust your director and your camera operators and your review that they're going to take care of you as best that they can and your editor. But it doesn't behoove anyone to make you look like an idiot unless you're supposed to look like an idiot. Right,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right.

    Chris Gorham:

    Everyone wants to make the show. Great.

    Michael Jamin:

    Are your kids getting into acting or have they expressed any No. You said with relief. No, not in the arts at all.

    Chris Gorham:

    No, no, no, not at all.

    Michael Jamin:

    Your wife was an actor. I mean, I'm, yeah, I'm surprised that there's not that pull.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, my oldest son is autistic. He finished high school and now he's got a part-time job like pharmacy down the street. He's doing well, and his younger brother is studying business, wants to go into real estate. Oh, good. It's like, okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, thank God.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. And then our youngest loves to sing, has a beautiful singing voice. But yeah, no, he isn't really interested

    Michael Jamin:

    Going

    Chris Gorham:

    Into the business, which is fine. We've never put any pressure on

    Michael Jamin:

    Them. Well, sure.

    Chris Gorham:

    And had they had a passion for it, we would be supportive, but it's just not, their hearts

    Michael Jamin:

    Taken them. It's funny. I'm sure they've come to set with you seen you do it. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. They think it's boring. They're like, this is so boring.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is boring. There's a lot of boring on a set. I don't know if,

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah, it's super boring. They've never watching things with me in it because it's weird to see your dad not being your dad. Also, another thing, thinking about it, having just talked about Stacy Linker a little bit ago, I think part of the reason they don't like going to set is because it set. I am the star and not them. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, interesting.

    Chris Gorham:

    That doesn't feel great either. It's way better at home.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is it like for you though, when you're out in public? And fame to me is, so how do you experience fame when someone comes up to you and they think they know you and they want a piece of you? What does that do to you?

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, I've been really lucky, I feel like, because kind of been able to walk the line where I've experienced being famous enough to have the paparazzi jump out and want to take my picture and talk to me.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a lot. That's a level of fame I don't think anybody would want to have,

    Chris Gorham:

    But never to the point where it really got in the way. It was just a few. There were some moments in my career where I was famous enough that the paparazzi knew who I was and would take my picture, but never famous enough that it really

    Michael Jamin:

    Bothered

    Chris Gorham:

    You, caused problems. Never famous enough where I needed security. Never famous enough where it got really inconvenient.

    Michael Jamin:

    But let's just say you're at a restaurant and someone wants to come up, they want to talk to you, they autographed, they want to meet you.

    Chris Gorham:

    Most of the time people get it. I'm usually out with my kids and my wife, so they understand if they're coming up and I'm with my wife and kids, that it's a little awkward for them to ask me to stop dinner with my family to talk pictures or take. So that doesn't really happen

    Michael Jamin:

    Now. Oh, that's good. I mean, Brad, I could see your family being like, oh God, we're trying to have a night. We're trying to be together.

    Chris Gorham:

    There's been moments like that, especially for the kids. Anelle it, it's always been fun. Early in my career, it was weird because we were on a show and we couldn't go to malls because kids would chase us around malls in the very beginning. But then as you get older, that happens less and less. And then it's just been, sometimes it's surprising. My kids forget for a while. We'll go a while without getting recognized at all. And then weirdly, in Chicago, weirdly, I think the last show that I was on must have lots of people watched it in Chicago. And so suddenly, anytime I'm in Chicago, I'm recognized all the time. And so It's like my kids remember. Oh, right. Dad's on tv.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so

    Chris Gorham:

    Funny. Funny. When Ethan was starting high school was when a very popular show with the high school kids had just premiered. And that was actually really difficult for him. We've talked about it since. He didn't really reveal how hard it was for him, but last year we were talking about it and he was kind of opening up and said, yeah, no, it sucked. It wasn't great.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Chris Gorham:

    You were doing that show while I was starting high school and so everyone knew who I was and everyone

    Michael Jamin:

    Knew who all his friends and all the kids. Yeah. It's hard for a kid and it

    Chris Gorham:

    Was embarrassing.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, it was. They were embarrassed that you were their dad.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Really? It was super embarrassing. Yeah. Well, because of what that show, because of my character on the show for high school kids, just, it was a lot. I was physically quite exposed on that show and so yeah, it was a lot. It a lot.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh wow. We did a show with these two guys link and these were big YouTubers and they were huge. And I hadn't heard of them. I didn't know them. And then remember we'd go for the meeting and one of them said to me, you wouldn't believe this, but I can't go to Disneyland without being swarmed. That was his crowd. He's like, I know you've never seen me before, but I can't go there without being swarmed.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so funny. Yeah,

    Chris Gorham:

    It's wild. Yeah. That was,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's interesting that this, go ahead, please.

    Chris Gorham:

    No, no, no, no. It was just a dumb Disneyland story. Go ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    No.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, the dumb Disneyland story was, there was a period in my career where working on a certain show where we could not only go to Disneyland for free, but also were given the guide and the behind we were taking care of at Disneyland, like a celebrity, which was funny because it was so, we did it a couple times, but I think even just the second time we went to Disney Disneyland, that way, it's too much. Honestly. It sounds great, and it's great the first time to be able to skip all the lines, you know what I mean? But after that, it's like, oh, there's actually way less to do at Disneyland than you think when you don't have to wait in line for anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so funny. You kind

    Chris Gorham:

    Of finish it all in four hours and then you're like, oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Now what? Now what?

    Chris Gorham:

    Again?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's so funny. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm always curious, I am always curious about how people experience I'm around you guys and how you guys experience fame and what is it like that parasocial relationship where people think they know you and they don't. They just know this part of you.

    Chris Gorham:

    It's different for everybody.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I always feel like it must be like, am I giving you what? When someone comes up to you, is there that thought in your head? Where am I giving you what you wanted? You just met me. Am I giving you what you wanted? Because I don't know what you wanted and am I who you wanted me to be for five minutes? Oh, that's funny.

    Chris Gorham:

    I don't think about it that way. I've just tried to be kind to people just, I just try to be kind. Just be kind. That's all. That's really all I'm thinking about is just because, listen, it could be worse. It's not terrible for people to be happy to see you generally.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right.

    Chris Gorham:

    That's not terrible. That's kind of nice. Can it be inconvenient? Sorry.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I saw a clip of Eve who played Jan Brady, right. And she was on the talk show. This clip was probably 30 years old or whatever, and someone in the audience said, can you just do it? Can you just say it? Can you say it right? And she's like, we knew what you wanted. We knew everyone knew. She wanted her to say, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. And she was like, I'm not going to say it. I won't say it, and why not? And everyone was so disappointed, and I felt for her. I was like, because she doesn't want to be your performing monkey now. And that was when she was 10.

    Chris Gorham:

    Well, that's the thing too. It's like is a one you can be kind and say no.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Chris Gorham:

    Right. Just being kind doesn't mean you're going to say yes to every request,

    Michael Jamin:

    But that sounds like something you've maybe had a long conversation with a therapist to come to that conversation. Really? Yeah. That's something I would struggle with. Someone would say, you know, could be kind still say, no, am I allowed to? But you're saying you came to this realization on your own.

    Chris Gorham:

    I dunno. I don't know. Listen, I do see a therapist, and so maybe I don't remember having a breakthrough about that specifically, but certainly walking things through with a therapist can only help. Also, I think being a dad helps with that because in parenting, so much of the job is saying no. And that can be really hard sometimes, certainly for some people, but it's an important part of the job.

    Michael Jamin:

    Talk about how important do you think it is, and for you to either, okay. As a writer, I think it's very important to spend at least some amount of time in therapy because if you don't know yourself, how could you possibly know another character? And I wonder if you feel the same way. Same thing about acting.

    Chris Gorham:

    Oh, I've never thought about it that way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Yeah. No, I never thought about that way. But it certainly can be helpful. I mean, for the same reason. It just, it's spending that time thinking about, and sometimes it's taking that hour just thinking about the whys of things. You spend so much of your days reacting to everything and taking the time to go, okay, why did this lead to this? Why did I do that when this happened to me? And as a person, it's going to help you stay more regulated and be just healthier in life. But also, yeah, for sure. There's going to be moments when you're going to be able to understand a character brother, because you've maybe put some thought into why people do

    Michael Jamin:

    These things, why people do. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    I been, one of the things I've started doing during the strike is working as a substitute teacher.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? For one of the public schools nearby.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. Yeah. For elementary

    Michael Jamin:

    School, middle school. How hard is that? Wait for elementary school.

    Chris Gorham:

    Elementary school and middle school.

    Michael Jamin:

    And middle school. You won't have the balls to do high school, do you?

    Chris Gorham:

    School? Well, my kids at the high school, I've been banned from the high school. And also I think I'm too recognizable to be at the high school. It would be distracting. Whereas the middle school and the elementary school kids, they don't dunno anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    So what's that?

    Chris Gorham:

    What is that like? Well, it's been great actually. It's been great. And I think one of the things that you really see, or I really see is just, there's no such thing as a bad kid. There's just no such thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you see kids that are struggling in pain or whatever. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Listen, there's kids that act up. There's kids, but what is that? Right? They're begging for attention. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    So what do you do?

    Chris Gorham:

    So it depends on the kid, but it's a great lesson that I think in talking about what we do and acting and writing, it's a great lesson to getting at why are characters behaving the way that they're behaving. In my career, I've played good guys and bad guys and everybody in between. And I'm often asked, how do you play this horrible human being? It's like, well, part of the job is figuring out why he's doing what he's doing, because it makes sense to him, either mentally or emotionally. He's doing what feels right for him in that moment. And objectively, we're looking at,

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you ask for help with that, with the director or the actor? If you're struggling with that, why am I such a dick in this scene?

    Chris Gorham:

    Sometimes? Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes it's an important conversation if it doesn't make sense, because also sometimes, frankly, this script hasn't got you there, or I can't see it. It's like, this doesn't feel justified. Can you help me connect the dots? So

    Michael Jamin:

    Funny, just as I was saying that we ran this show with Mark Marin, the comedian, and the show was based on his life. And so we did this one, we wrote this one scene where he's giving a speech, he's getting out of rehab, and he's giving his goodbye speech or whatever. And the speech that we wrote for him was so ungracious, he was being a real jerk. It was like, goodbye, you're all good luck. See you here in three weeks because everyone, you're all going to relapse. He was such a jerk. And right before we're shooting it, mark comes up to me, he goes, I don't understand why I'm such a dick in this scene. And I'm like, uhoh, how do I break this to you based on your life, mark? And I go,

    Chris Gorham:

    It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Because Mark, sometimes you can be a dick. And I'm like, oh, here we go. He's going to punch me in the face. He's going to punch me. And he just looks at me. He goes, okay, got it. That's all he needed.

    Chris Gorham:

    I see it now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. It was. Yeah. It's been really, yeah. One of the things that coming up in it school, you go through, you learn all these different techniques, the miser techniques, method acting is STR U Hagan and all this stuff. And so much of it, it's like watch people, watch people listen to people, listen to how different people talk, listen to how people talk about the same thing, or watch how people move. And so it's been one of the just kind of unexpected blessings about being around these kids just being exposed to an entirely different group of little humans who are so, they have fewer masks on than adults. So it just, it's really easy, especially as a dad coming in and having been around, I feel like that's an advantage for me. But just to see, it's like, oh, I see what's happening here. Oh, I see what's going on there. Oh, that's so cool.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so fun. I can see the same thing as a writer. If I'm at a coffee shop, when you're watching two people, often people are not, if they're sitting at the same table, they're not having a conversation. They're just taking turns talking. Which is different. Which is different, right? Yes,

    Chris Gorham:

    Yes. So different. So different. It's been, yeah, it's like when you see people just, they're not listening. They're just waiting for their

    Michael Jamin:

    Turn. Yeah, they're waiting for their turn. Right. That's just so fun about the job. Wow. Yeah. Chris, we had a long talk and don't think, I think maybe we bumped on, we touched on only a couple things. We talked from last time, and yet this is all new terrain. And you, I'm so

    Chris Gorham:

    Glad.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    I mean, well, you're easy to talk to my friend.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, you're a fantastic guest. I mean, I don't know. I just feel like I learned, I learned so much. I rebranded the podcast basically was because I wanted to talk to more people. It was originally, it was about screenwriting, but I really wanted to talk to artists, basically people whose work I admire, and you for sure are one of them. And just about how they, I don't know. What's it like to be an artist and how to approach your work. I know you take it so seriously and I have so much admiration for that

    Chris Gorham:

    Man. It's the greatest job in the world, and it's a job that it matters.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it matters. I've said that and people, I made a post about that. And I don't know people, I don't know if it was well received, because it doesn't matter. But it does matter.

    Chris Gorham:

    No, it really, storytelling is one of just the founding pillars of our society and of community. Storytelling is so important. It is how we see ourselves. It's how we learn how to behave and how we learn about other people, because it's how we get outside of our own lived experience and can experience the lived experience of others. It's vital.

    Michael Jamin:

    And stories connect us. And now more than ever in this country, we need something that connects us. We're so divided. I dunno.

    Chris Gorham:

    It's one of those things that helps us feel less alone,

    Michael Jamin:

    Feels less, exactly. Feel.

    Chris Gorham:

    And the world can be a very lonely place. So I'm very, I've been very,

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder when people's, but I wonder when people, I say this and they don't recognize the value of the arts. When I say it helps us feel less alone and they can't get there. They can't. I wonder, is it because they're just alone? I wonder if they're so alone, they can't even get there.

    Chris Gorham:

    Sometimes. Sometimes. But problems, community is just the most important thing. Strong communities lead to happier people, lead to less crime, need to just happier lives like community is so important. And it's one of the very important ways that we can help build communities by sharing our stories with each other. Or sometimes just fucking laughing about something, like needing to sit down and laugh about something or get excited or get swept away to another world. Or it can be anything, but I mean, it's as vital. It's as old as the species. Right?

    Michael Jamin:

    And when people come home

    Chris Gorham:

    Changed,

    Michael Jamin:

    Often people come home for a long day at work, hard day at work, what do they do? They'll turn on the TV even if they're not going to watch it just to feel less alone. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    Yeah. No, I'm very proud of so much of the work that I've been able to do and so grateful to be allowed to do it. I really look forward to getting back to work as soon as our friends at the BTP can bring themselves to give us the deal that we need to make to get back.

    Michael Jamin:

    By the time this airs, I hope I have a little bit of a lag. I hope it's done. But some people are thinking, well, maybe it'll get done this weekend. There's some optimism. Yeah. Yeah.

    Chris Gorham:

    I hope so. I hope so.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, if not,

    Chris Gorham:

    We'll see you on the picket lines, my friend.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, for sure. And you were there for sure, the writers right from the beginning. But I want to thank you again for sharing your time so generously, because this was a great talk. I think this is going to help a lot of people help me. So anytime, man, thank you again, Chris Gorm, round of applause. Thank you so much, man.

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

    1h 18m | Dec 27, 2023
  • Ep 112 - Tasting History with Max Mille

    On this week's episode, I have from the Youtube channel "Tasting History", Max Miller. Tune in as we about the origins of what made him start this channel as well as his New York Times best-selling cookbook "Tasting History: Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes (A Cookbook)." We also dive into the complications of trying to be successful on all forms of social media.

    Show Notes

    Max Miller on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tastinghistorywithmaxmiller/

    Max Miller on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@tastinghistory

    Max Miller on YouTube:  @TastingHistory 

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Max Miller:

    A lot of people are like, this feels like an old PBS show. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's classier. Yeah,

    Max Miller:

    It is classier. And so I'm like, I don't think the thumbnail where I'm on there going, would, you're not going to, because the video is not going to deliver on that. That's not what the video is. And so then it is clickbait, and I hate that

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity, I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Well, today I'm talking about as always, people who are doing creative things who have invented themselves creatively. And so my next guest has done just that. He's tasting history with Max Miller. He is the host, and tasting history is a really interesting channel. Well, actually I'll get to it, but he's got 2 million subscribers, which is gigantic on YouTube. So Max, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining me.

    Max Miller:

    Thank you for having me. Excited.

    Michael Jamin:

    I am so inspired by what you're doing. So basically your show, for those who don't know, it's a cooking show, but it's also, he talks about it's historical cooking, so what they made in ancient Greece or whatever, or what prisoners ate, whatever. And so it's also, it's cooking, but it's also educational, which I find it's such an interesting little niche you have, and yet it's blown up.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, it's crazy. I actually always say I have a history show where I cook because it's really to focus more on the history than anything else. Well, tell me, how

    Michael Jamin:

    Did this all start?

    Max Miller:

    It started, well, it kind of started with a great British bakeoff. When that show first came out, actually before it even came out here in the us, I got obsessed with it and started baking everything that they had on it, and that's really how I learned how to bake. But they would always talk about the history of the dishes that they were baking. They don't do that anymore. And so I would bring my baked goods into work. I was working at Disney, the movie studio at the time, and I would bring in the baked goods and tell all of my coworkers a little bit about the history. And then one of my coworkers was like, you know what? Go tell someone else. These little anecdotes, put it up on YouTube, find an audience. And so that's what I did. Wait, were you

    Michael Jamin:

    Trying to pitch it to Disney? Is that why?

    Max Miller:

    No, no. It was more that I just needed something creative to do my job at Disney. I loved it, but it wasn't super creative, at least not my creative thing. I was creating stuff for other people.

    Michael Jamin:

    What were you doing then at Disney?

    Max Miller:

    I had been working in marketing, so I had worked on the trailers and stuff like that. And then in the months before the pandemic, really, I was working in sales, selling our movies to the theaters, which was actually a lot of fun and challenging, but not super creative in the way that I like to be.

    Michael Jamin:

    But tell me, so you're not familiar, you moved to LA for what reason then

    Max Miller:

    To do voiceover

    Michael Jamin:

    To be a voiceover actor?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I had been in New York doing musical theater for eight years, and New York is exhausting. And I decided, you know what? I need a slower pace of life. So I moved out here and I had a few friends out here and I wanted to do voiceover. I was always much more comfortable behind a mic than I was on stage or in front of a camera. And so I was like, okay, animation, that's the way to go. And so I did that for a little while. Did you

    Michael Jamin:

    Have much success at it?

    Max Miller:

    It's funny you ask. So in animation, no. I did a few little things and in commercial, couple little things, but where I ended up getting a lot of work was in audio books because I have the voice of, especially then of a 16-year-old boy. And so I was doing a lot of YA audio books. Interesting.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, this is so interesting. Okay, so you were an actor trying to get even more acting gigs and you must have become alright. It's good that you made some money doing voiceover for books, but it doesn't sound like you were as accomplished as you wanted to be. Is that right?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, I mean, I always had to be working at a restaurant or I started temping at Disney, and then that just turned into a full-time job. But yeah, I never made a full living for more than six months at a time. I always had to call back.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you were, as I talk about this a lot, actors and writers the same thing. Help me get in the door, help me do the, everyone's always begging for an opportunity. Get me in, please let me, and then I guess at some point you just decided, I'm tired of asking. I'm just going to do something that I want to do. And this is what happens when you put energy into something, you created your own little thing and you blew up.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, I mean that's the amazing thing about YouTube and TikTok and Instagram. You couldn't do this 15, 20 years ago, or at least you could do it. It was just nobody would have a place to watch you do it. Now, it's not easy, but it's available. It's an option.

    Michael Jamin:

    From what I see your show, everyone should again check it out. Tasting history with Max Miller, it seems like it's really well produced and it seems like this is a TV show, but it's free on the internet. That's what I see when I look at it.

    Max Miller:

    Well, thank you. All I notice is, oh, my lighting this week was terrible or, oh God, there's a typo on the screen. I only notice all the mistakes that I make. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you shoot this? It's in chat in the kitchen. Is the kitchen in your house?

    Max Miller:

    Yep.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's your kitchen and it's lit. Do you have a team helping you or you doing this all your own on your own?

    Max Miller:

    It's all me. You

    Michael Jamin:

    Have no one helping you.

    Max Miller:

    I don't want to say no one helps me because my husband does the subtitles and he reads all the scripts beforehand to make sure that it's coherent, because once in a while I'll say something and he's like, what is this? And I'm like, everyone knows what that is. And he's like, no, everyone doesn't. So then I fix up. What about

    Michael Jamin:

    Editing and stuff?

    Max Miller:

    So I just in the last couple months brought on someone to help me with some of the editing. I still end up doing all the images and a lot of that, but she's fantastic and has cut down the major part of the editing for me because that was, I mean, I would spend 15 hours, 12 to 15 hours each episode just editing. And now it's maybe four. A

    Michael Jamin:

    Lot of that. Now you use a lot of time, I imagine, to research and to prep and to practice these recipes you're doing. Is that right?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, research is definitely the most intensive part. It's also my favorite part though. It's probably depending on the episode, anywhere from 12 to 20 hours of research and then kind of crafting the script.

    Michael Jamin:

    So this is your full-time job now? This is how you make your living?

    Max Miller:

    Yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Fantastic. It's

    Max Miller:

    More hours than I've ever worked in my life,

    Michael Jamin:

    But I mean, you're great at it. You're great on camera. The content is very interesting, very engaging. Sometimes you take it in the field, which is a great write off. It's an excuse to get out of the house and shoot something on the field, which is great. Exactly. Have other opportunities come from this unexpected opportunities maybe?

    Max Miller:

    Yes, absolutely. One I'm not actually allowed to talk about, but it'll be something on the standard actual television, so that's exciting. And then the other is I wrote a cookbook, and that has done immensely well. It was on the New York Times bestseller list, which was something I never really expected that I would be on.

    Michael Jamin:

    Did they reach out to you? Did a publisher reach out to you or did you

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, they reached out to me shortly after I started the channel. Actually, I think it was about six months in. It was somebody who had watched my Garam episode and said, we would love to do this as a book. And it ended up being kind of rough because she was super excited about the project and she knew the channel, and then she got laid off. So I got transferred to another editor who has been absolutely great, but he didn't really know what to do with me. He did cookbooks. And I was like, well, this is a history book with recipes in it. And he's like, okay. So it took a little time to kind of figure out exactly what we were doing, but it ended up working out. But

    Michael Jamin:

    This is interesting because most people will approach a publisher, please, I got a book by my, but when you build it yourself, it's the other way around, and it's just so much make them come to you, and it's because you put the work in first. And how big was your channel when they first reached out to you?

    Max Miller:

    Not huge. Maybe in the 200 to 250,000 subscriber, which is actually really big, but not where I am now.

    Michael Jamin:

    What was the first video that you blew up on? What was that?

    Max Miller:

    Rum? So I started the channel the last week of February, and this was, I think the third week of June. That's fast. It wasn't that long after starting. It was because it was covid and nobody had anything to do, but watch YouTube videos. I had been getting a few thousand views on my videos, which I thought was stellar. This really wasn't supposed to be a thing. And then within a week it was at almost a million views, and I had jumped from 10,000 subscribers to 150,000 in a week.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Wow. Now, I guess you can't talk about, obviously you can't this project, this network project, but what about acting opportunities and I mean, you're a face now, you're this guy, people know.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I mean, when it comes to acting opportunities, everything right now is acting myself. And I'm sure that if I went out and auditioned, maybe I could get something, but I don't have time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Time.

    Max Miller:

    This is what it is. And really at this point, if I did something acting wise, I'd probably want to go back to musical theater, which was my first love and do some shows. But wow,

    Michael Jamin:

    I wouldn't roll that out. I mean, you keep on building your audience and I certainly would not roll that out. I mean, what is fame? Are you getting recognized now or what's it like for you?

    Max Miller:

    I am. I actually just got recognized at Costco today. Really? Yeah. It's funny. I get recognized very seldom here in Los Angeles because I think everyone sees people out all the time. But whenever I go anywhere else, I always get, which is pretty awesome. Even in Greece, really? In Greece, I recognized every day in Greece by people who watched this one video when I did this Spartan blood broth video. Everyone in Greece, I swear, has seen that video. So that's how they all knew me. I wonder if it's awesome.

    Michael Jamin:

    I wonder if fame for people like you is different than movie actors or TV actors in the sense that you're this friend that they watch on the Or what do you think

    Max Miller:

    It is more of that? I mean, I don't know what it's like for Beyonce, but I know for me, I do get a lot of people who it is, we already have a relationship and that we're good friends because we hang out for 20 minutes every Tuesday.

    Michael Jamin:

    But not only that, they're probably looking you on their phone, which is this, it's not even the TV mean to me that famous is such an interesting thing. I worked with obviously a lot of actors, but they create, when you're an actor, it's the character that they know. And sometimes they have a hard time differentiating between you and the villain that you play. It's like, that's not me. But with you, it's different. I think it must be very different. You're a friend, I think, right?

    Max Miller:

    And I mean, in the show, that's me. I'm not playing character at all. It's just this is how I am. And so it does create a bond. I guess you do get to know. It is so much more about the creator. There are other people who have maybe started to kind of do what I do or that were already kind of doing what I do slightly differently. I'm not the first person to cook historical food by any means, but I'm me doing it and they are them doing it. And so it will always be different. People are like, oh, they're coming for you. No, there's so much room for everyone because everyone is an individual. And b, Dylan Hollis approaches historic food in a very different way. I don't know if you know him, but he's on TikTok. He's huge. He's fantastic. He has a great cookbook out, but his personality is his personality, and mine is mine. And even if we covered the exact same topic, it would be done in such a different way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was there ever any imposter syndrome on your end? I didn't go to culinary school. I'm not a this or that

    Max Miller:

    Every day. I mean, the fact that I have a cookbook out is insane. Yeah, no, there is both on the cooking end of things and the history end of things, because I'm not a trained historian either, really. The show is just me reading things that I thought were interesting and me fumbling my way through the kitchen until I come up with something that I think was what the recipe was trying to get at.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean, a lot of times these recipes as I look at 'em, they just say what the ingredients are. They don't say the proportions. They certainly don't say the temperature was cooked at if it was cooked in middle Ages. And so you're just going by what you think it should be.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah. They're all vague sometimes to the degree of, you can't even tell if this is a bread or a soup, kind of vague. But with context clues, you can't just read the recipe. You have to read other things usually in the cookbooks or other cookbooks from the time. And then leaning on other historians and scholars who have done work for years and years, you're kind of able to make an educated guess on a lot of things. But that's all it's ever going to be.

    Michael Jamin:

    But can you tell me how food dishes have changed over the centuries? Are we using way more sugar now or something?

    Max Miller:

    Oh yeah. Yeah. And I mean, partly because our pallets have just changed in a way, at least here in the United States, but also because it's so much cheaper. In the Middle Ages, they loved sugar, but it was being grown in Indonesia or India, and so it had to come a long way. And then it had to be refined to become white sugar, which was an incredibly lengthy process and incredibly expensive and really only done in one or two places in the world. So a little bit of sugar was like it was buying a Lamborghini and showing off your wealth. So most people didn't get it. Whereas then you get to the 18th century and all the poor people are putting sugar in their tea. Oh, really? And so the rich people were like, we don't want that in our food anymore. We're going to go with fresh ingredients instead.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really? Really? Yeah. How interesting. And then that's another thing, processed food is so relatively new and obviously, was there any kind of version of processed food historically before modern age?

    Max Miller:

    I guess it depends on what you mean by processed.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. Something that was, I don't know. What does it mean to be processed?

    Max Miller:

    If you take corn and make it into cornmeal and mix Alize it, which is a laborious process that needs lie, and you're boiling it and then grinding it in a certain way, the Aztecs did that. So it's been done and far before them thousands of years. So that's a process. Making sugar into white sugar is a lengthy process, but that's been done for hundreds of years. Well, no, thousands of years. So is it a Stouffer's microwave meal? No, but we have had processed food for forever. It's just a different process.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you think when you cook it? I imagine the biggest problem, this is why a cooking show will never work. This is why I'm an executive. No, this is why it'll never work, is because people can't taste it. And yet obviously it does work. And so how do you get over that hurdle when you're done with a dish?

    Max Miller:

    I mean, I think honestly, visually, people aren't able to kind of feel like they know what something tastes like just by knowing all the ingredients that are in it and then seeing it visually, whether that is correct or not to say, but that doesn't mean that the enjoyment isn't still there. And then I taste it at the end of the episode, and I try my best to describe it, but my descriptions skills are not the best, especially on the fly, because usually when I'm tasting something on camera, it is the first time that I've ever tasted it. I only make the recipes once. So unless something goes horribly wrong, it's the first time that I've tasted it. And so right then coming up with words of how to describe it, I'm not the best. It's something I'm working on, but it doesn't seem to harm things.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I'm a little surprised when you say it's you alone in the kitchen. You have a couple of cameras, you turn 'em on, you hope they're in focus, and you run in front of the camera. I'm surprised you don't have a director, I don't know, giving you, helping you more joy on your face or something.

    Max Miller:

    So it's funny you say that. Every Jose, my husband focuses the camera right before I shoot to make sure I'm in focus, because so many times I've filmed an entire thing and I'm not, so he focuses the camera hits record and then says high energy, and then leaves the room. And so that's the direction that I get at the beginning, high energy. And often in my script, I will write in more energy, more energy, just because you do need a lot of energy on camera to come through. You

    Michael Jamin:

    Do. People don't realize that

    Max Miller:

    When you're really just being yourself on camera, it comes across as super flat.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's a heightened version of

    Max Miller:

    Yourself, have to remind myself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And so actually, I had a lot of thoughts about that, but I wonder if this is an opportunity for you to do even, I don't know, like a live show, I don't know, cooking. I don't know. Is there something like that that you're thinking about exploring or

    Max Miller:

    So yeah, I actually have thought about doing live shows simply because one of my favorite things to do is meet people who watch the show. It's a very insular kind of life. I work alone. I do everything pretty much all at home alone. So meeting people who watch the show has been really exciting. And on book tour, I got to do that really for the first time. And so I think doing a live thing where I cook and talk about the history would be great. The only thing is I am a really messy and slow cook. I'm not Julia Child who used to do it all live every week. I couldn't do that. So

    Michael Jamin:

    You have two versions. You got the messy version. And oh, by the way, I did this earlier. Here's the real version. I mean, I think people would know that would be kind. You know what I'm saying? They don't understand.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah. Yeah. I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    You don't know. Is it hard for you when you watch your video, I guess when you're editing, you watch everything, but now that you're not editing it, what's it like for you even watching yourself

    Max Miller:

    Really once it's out,

    I never watch 'em again. And it's not necessarily that I find it hard to watch myself. What I find hard is when I do go back and watch older videos, it pains me to see, I'm proud of how far I've come, but it pains me that I was ever not where I am now. And that comes with the technical aspects, the lighting, the sound, all of that. But really more than anything, it's my script. Writing has just become so much tighter. How I go in depth on the history has really changed. So eventually I want to go back to some of the earlier topics that I talked about and redo them because I'm like, I talked about the history for three minutes. I've got 20 minutes of content to do. So people

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't realize that sometimes they think they're afraid of putting themselves out there because they're going to suck and you are going to suck. That's why you keep doing going to, yeah. Oh, it came in my head and just lost it. Oh, I know what I was going to say. Do you feel this pressure, I mean, you do one a week, right?

    Max Miller:

    Usually once in a while I'll do two, but usually once a week.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you feel this incredible? It never ends. It never ends. Is that a burden? Is that something you struggle with or no?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah. Yeah, it is. Because it is. Every weekend people are like, well, you could take a week off, but one YouTube does not. They say they don't mind that, but they do. The algorithm does. And two, for me, I feel like it's going to be like the gym. If I take one day off of the gym, I'm probably going to take two days off, and that'll be a week. And I think if I miss one episode, I'll be like, oh, well, I'll do that again next month. So every Tuesday, I can't think too, too far ahead because it does get kind of daunting. It's like, oh my gosh, when will I run out of ideas? And when I go on vacation or take a trip somewhere, getting those videos ready ahead of time, my friends, and they don't see me for weeks at a time because I'm working from 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM seven days a week for the two weeks before I go on vacation.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's that much work. Really. Yeah,

    Max Miller:

    It is. I work probably 10 hours a day with breaks of petting the cats and going to get lunch. But it's all day and it's pretty much seven days a week in some respect. Even if I'm not working on an episode per se, I'm coming up with ideas for other things. I'm going through my emails. It takes me months to respond to an email or going on Instagram and cleaning up that and Facebook. There's just so many different aspects to it that there is no time that I'm not somewhat in tasting history mode.

    Michael Jamin:

    When you say cleaning up Instagram, what does that mean?

    Max Miller:

    Going through comments, going through messages.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now I'm going to get to the real stuff. So when you say going through comments, is any of it haters? Are you dealing with any haters?

    Max Miller:

    Very rarely. I have a really positive audience, but they come along and there's a fair share of well actually going on. And I think anytime that you share facts of any kind, you're going to get that because especially with history, there's so much up for debate. There's so much vagueness in history that you can't ever please everyone. Do you

    Michael Jamin:

    Respond to them? How do you treat it?

    Max Miller:

    Once in a while, I will. If they're polite, then I will. If they're not, then I don't, because usually it's like, well, they're having a bad day. You know what? I've watched your channel

    Michael Jamin:

    That's asking, that's why I want to know how you do it. Because it's hard.

    Max Miller:

    It is really hard. And when I first started, a mean comment would ruin my week. I would dwell on it. I get a thousand good comments and get one bad one, and it just all week. And I'm like, should I change how I do my entire show based on this one person's opinion? Maybe now it ruins my hour, and then I usually forget about it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you leave it there? Or, oh, go ahead, please.

    Max Miller:

    So sometimes I do, but a lot of times I don't, especially it, it's really just mean. Or if there's any kind of racism, homophobia or anything like that, which does happen, I get rid of it. But if it's more of just a critique of any kind, I'll usually leave it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you block these people or No,

    Max Miller:

    I only block people if they are being truly vile. I don't need them in my audience. I also have a secret weapon, and that is my husband who actually does go through all of the comments and gets rid of most of the mean ones before I can ever see them.

    Michael Jamin:

    But he doesn't respond. He doesn't engage, or does he

    Max Miller:

    Not with the mean one. No. He just gets rid of 'em. He engages with the positive.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. People don't realize it. I mean, it really is. It's one of these weird things where you have a voice, you now have a platform, you have a voice, but in many ways, you can't use it. You can't respond it. It's just that you just can't, can't.

    Max Miller:

    It's never going to do any benefit. Really though there have been times where I have responded, and especially if somebody tries to correct me, and I'm not always right. I've made mistakes. That's just the nature of putting stuff out there. But if I know I'm correct and they try to correct me, I'll respond and say, Hey, actually they did have sugar in the middle ages. And very often, even if it's a nasty worded comment, they will follow up being uber apologetic and like, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I don't know why I came across that way because most people, and myself included, when you're on your phone or whatever, whatever crap comes to your brain goes onto the phone and it's gone. And then you don't think about it anymore. But when I get it, it's all I think about.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I disagree with you. I'm guessing the fact that you've been doing this so long with your channel, I bet you don't leave any kind of comments that are even remotely negative now.

    Max Miller:

    No. No. I do not. What comes, but sometimes when I'm responding to comments, I don't necessarily even think about the response. And it's not that I'm responding in a negative way or mean, it's just I will respond to 10 comments and realize I was on autopilot. I wasn't even really reading necessarily what, and so I got to take a second and be like, they took time to comment. I'm going to take time to read it and respond. Granted, I only respond to maybe 1% of the comments, but those comments,

    Michael Jamin:

    Isn't

    Max Miller:

    That interesting? I try to actually respond.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm curious to how you think this whole thing, and it hasn't been that long. It's only been, what, two or three years your channel has been up?

    Max Miller:

    It'll be four in February.

    Michael Jamin:

    Four. Okay. Wow. Okay. So how do you think it's changed you as a person?

    Max Miller:

    I've always had a good work ethic, but now it is a little just, I have a very good work ethic. I don't want to call myself a workaholic. I do take breaks to play with Lego and stuff, but I really hold my, because nobody else is going to hold me accountable. So I just have to really hold myself accountable. This is not the first creative endeavor I've tried. I worked on a book for a while. I worked in animation, making my own cartoons for a while. I was doing all this other stuff, and once it didn't work out or whatever, I'd get frustrated and I'd stop doing it. This is the only one that I've stuck with no matter what. It's just like you got to put out the work. Even if I get to sit down in my computer one day, and this happens every week and I have no ideas, and I'm looking at a blank page, and I'm like, I don't know what next week's episode is going to be. I just sit there until it comes to me. And that is not how I was when I worked on some of my other projects. It was like, if it doesn't come easily, I quit.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Are the animations the yours then, in your show? Do you do all that then?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah. I mean by animations. Well, I don't know the words coming up on screen. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought I saw other stuff, but no. Why are you not adding animation then?

    Max Miller:

    So there are two things that I didn't animate. So when the show first started, I animated the opening segment and the time for history, little interstitial. But a couple of years ago, I hired someone to do a better job, and so they did those. I don't do the animations because animation takes, it takes forever. And really, my most valuable commodity now is my time. And so if there's any way to make stuff go faster and keep it quality, I'll do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Now, that's an interesting question because there are ways that you could do this with less quality, but you're not tempted to do it.

    Max Miller:

    I don't want to say I'm not tempted, but I haven't, and I don't think I will. I'm often tempted, I think that I could find editors to find images for me, I have tried. It's been far less quality. I've hired people to help with scripts, and it just hasn't worked out. And I don't want to say I'm the best. I'm the only one that can do this. I know that's not the case. I'm sure that other people could do it. It's I'm not great at, I'm not great at giving up control because it's my thing and I know exactly how I want it to be. And could I get out more episodes if I gave up that control? Yeah, probably. But it's doing so well, I guess I don't need it to, I'm fine having one channel and having it do as it's doing. People are like, well, you should be doing this project and this, and you would have time to do this. And I'm like, yeah, I would. But I like what I'm doing. I'm really enjoying my life right now. So

    Michael Jamin:

    Was it hard for you to quit your job and to do this full time?

    Max Miller:

    So I didn't have much of a choice, so I can't say that it was hard because I started the channel in the last week of February, 2020, and I was selling movies to movie theaters.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay.

    Max Miller:

    So by the second week of March, I no longer had a job. I was technically still employed by Disney, and they continued to pay for my insurance and everything. By the time they said, Hey, do you want to come back? It was April of 2021, and the channel had taken off. And so I was like, Nope, I'm going to do this. It's not a sure thing, but my husband was still working for Disney, and so it's not like we would starve if I failed. So I mean, it was a hard decision in as much as I loved my job at Disney and I really missed the people that I worked with. I still miss people. I miss having coworkers. But when it came to, I knew that this was going to work. You did? I just did. Well, it

    Michael Jamin:

    Kind of already was though. I mean, that's the thing.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, it kind of already was. And I think I knew that I had a list of hundreds of ideas ready to go, and I knew that I was getting better. And so I thought, well, if I've gotten this much better in a year, I'm going to get a lot better in another year, in two years. So,

    Michael Jamin:

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

    What about collaborations with people? Is that something you do? I didn't notice any.

    Max Miller:

    I've done a, I have a couple actually coming up that I'm doing. I don't do that many, partly because like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, look, who's in my kitchen this week?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I think I watched one of your episodes in the last couple of weeks was with someone, young guy on TikTok who said, collaborations are the way to grow. That's not the case with my kind of channel. To a degree, it can, but that's just not, with YouTube. It's not as important anymore. It used to be, but not as much anymore. But also it's a lot more work.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, is it? Why?

    Max Miller:

    Well, from a technical aspect, I have trouble setting up one microphone alone, two microphones. I have trouble. I film in my kitchen. I know where everything is going to be. So if ever I have to film in any other location, it's a nightmare. And you have to, when I'm writing a script, I'm writing it for me. So when I bring in a second voice and I don't know what they're going to say and everything, it's so much harder. Nothing in my show is off the cuff. I have scripted it down almost to the word. Are you on a teleprompter then? No. So when I'm speaking, it is somewhat off the cuff. It's not word for word what's on the script, but I write out the script word for word. I'll read a paragraph, I'll remember it, and then I'll regurgitate it to the camera. But changing the words ever so slightly, so it comes across as if it's the first time I'm saying it. But no, I'm not on a teleprompter. I don't think I could be. I don't know that it would come across as real

    Michael Jamin:

    For me. Are you doing multiple takes then, or what, or no? Multiple

    Max Miller:

    Takes many. Many takes many. Yeah. Especially because I do trip over my words and everything. There are often times a lot of foreign words and complicated names and dates and everything. So I'm always kind of having to look down at the script to remember what I'm saying. And that is what my new editor is editing out. I'll give her an hour and 20 minutes that needs to be cut down into 18 minutes because of all of the mistakes that I've made. And then

    Michael Jamin:

    You'll give her notes on that cut and use a different take, or No.

    Max Miller:

    So usually whatever the last take I took is the take that I want. Once I've got it right, I'll move on. And she has my down really, really well. So there are very few comments that I have to give her, and she's super fast, so she turns it around literally three times faster than I ever could. It's pretty astonishing. So it's so far, it's been a great help.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting because like I said, it really looks like, I'm surprised that you said you're the only one. It looks like a TV show. It looks like there's a bunch of people helping you out. And so are you monetizing mostly through ads on YouTube or it's selling your cookbook? Do you do that?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I mean, ads is definitely the number one spot for me. And then I have cookbook, I do sponsorships. I have a Patreon. Oh, I

    Michael Jamin:

    Saw that. That's right. The Patreon, which is so, it's so interesting. Now. That's the problem with Patreon. You have to think of additional bonus content that you charge people for that you're not putting in your show, and yet you're putting so much in your show. What's bonus?

    Max Miller:

    So there isn't a lot of bonus content on my patron because everything does go, luckily, my patrons, they know how much is going into each episode, so they know that I don't really have time. What's the advantage there? I have other things. The main thing is we do a monthly happy hour, we make a cocktail and we do a Zoom happy hour,

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting

    Max Miller:

    People that actually take advantage of it, which is, and I send out little gifts every few months, magnets and stuff that are associated with the show, stickers, things like that. But one thing I do do is with the first cookbook and with, I'm working on a second, they help me with the recipes. So I give them the recipes and they help with the testing. And so we have just a lot of back and forth, and they're just so helpful and

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, wow. So it's more

    Max Miller:

    Of a relationship that grows with the patrons.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so you get a handful of people on Zoom and you just chat for an hour or so. And these are basically huge fans. They're just huge fans. That's what they are.

    Max Miller:

    And it's cool because when I was on book tour, I would actually get to meet some of them in person. They would live in the towns. When I was in Dallas, we actually did a real happy hour and had 20 patrons get together, and we just all went to a bar and had drinks and hung out. Isn't this

    Michael Jamin:

    Crazy? I mean, isn't this crazy?

    Max Miller:

    It's surreal. Surreal. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. And when you put up your page, it's such a creative way to make a living. You didn't know any of this when you started your, you been like, I don't know what I'm doing on page. And then you just figured out what my Paton account was going to be.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, I mean, I actually had to have a viewer tell me about Patreon. I didn't know about it. And they were like, you should be doing this. And I was like, oh, okay. And there's been a lot of that. I've actually learned a lot from my viewers. It's interesting. Patrons and non patrons. I say that when people give me critiques, I don't often take 'em, but sometimes I do. Especially early on. There was one person who wrote me an email, and it was really critical. And it was really long it, it was absolutely in the spirit of, I know how you can do this better. But

    Michael Jamin:

    It was also unsolicited.

    Max Miller:

    It was unsolicited. I had only been doing it for two months. It broke my heart. It was horrible. And yet, I thank that person so much because everything that person said was spot on, and I put those into practice and it made the show all the better. So even when it's unsolicited, even when it's mean-spirited, he was not at all. But even when it is mean spirited, that doesn't mean that they're wrong. And so sometimes you've got to listen and say, Hey, maybe I can improve in this way. And then sometimes you got to say, screw you. And it's knowing what to take and what not to take. That is honestly the hard part because

    Michael Jamin:

    How did he know? What was the basis for his expertise when he gave you his opinion?

    Max Miller:

    I have no idea. Right. I honestly have no idea. Was he just someone who watched a lot of videos or was he someone who made videos? I kind of feel like he was someone who made videos or was maybe someone who had been in directing or editing, because his advice was very technical. It was stuff that if you had never been involved in being on camera or watching people on camera, you wouldn't know. And then some of it was storytelling. I mean, it was lengthy. I think if I had printed out, it would've been seven or eight pages.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting.

    Max Miller:

    And he was spot on. And I've had plenty of other people be spot on about things. And then sometimes, most of the times they're not, most of the times they don't know what they're talking about. Like I said, they have no expertise or whatever. And then there are times where it's like, yes, you're right. But doing that would either be too expensive or too laborious or all sorts of things. I mean, you get things, people being like, you should redo your kitchen.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, yeah.

    Max Miller:

    Oh, okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Thanks.

    Max Miller:

    I'm going to be, but not because you told me. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    But if you do, that's going to shut down your chae for a couple months.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I'm trying to figure that out. I might end up going and filming at all my friends' kitchens. So for two months you'll get an episode in different kitchens.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's a good idea. If your friends, they're up for it, but

    Max Miller:

    They've all

    Michael Jamin:

    Agreed. And would you put them in it too, or no? Too hard?

    Max Miller:

    No, probably not. Yeah, it's too hard.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. It's so interesting when you talk about Patreon, because people have asked me, are you going to do that as well? It just seems like another thing I have to think about and almost another burden I have to worry about. Once a month, I got to worry about once. What else am I going to give people? What am I going to mail people? What magnet it is something to think about. And then I felt like, is this going to be a burden on me? I'm worried about burdens.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, I get it. And I think if I was where I'm at today, I probably wouldn't start at Patreon, really, because are you doing it for, you need the income or are you doing it for other reasons? And so that's the question.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, the question is really, and I'm sure you think about this, it's like you're building a fan base. You're building your tribe of people who will support whatever project you do next, whatever. You don't know what your next thing is going to be five years from now. But it's great to have a super fan base and Exactly. And that's kind of, I mean, is that the reason why you have a Patreon? I mean,

    Max Miller:

    That's why I have one. And honestly, so when I do get those mean comments, or when I get down on myself and a video doesn't perform well or any reason, I have my Patreon patrons who are there to boost me up and give me, because like, oh, this video didn't do well or whatever. But it's like, but these people support me so much that they are willing to part with their dollars to support me. And it is not just about the money. It is about their fervor. But are

    Michael Jamin:

    You checking in with them once? I mean, other than the monthly call, are you checking in with them on a daily basis or what are

    Max Miller:

    You No, not daily. I post on there and everything, and I'm trying to get better and nurture that a little bit more. One thing I'm trying to do, especially in the new year, is have more ways to connect without my making more actual content. And that is going to be with the cookbook. And so we're figuring out ways where I can show them a bit more of the behind the scenes of

    Michael Jamin:

    People like that. Do you have a newsletter as well?

    Max Miller:

    No, I don't. I'm actually, I'm almost ready to finally hit publish on my website that I've been working on forever and ever. And there'll be a newsletter, a way to sign up, even though there is no newsletter at the moment, because it just comes down to I have no minutes in the day, so I'm always having to choose. It's like, do I want to start a podcast or do I want to work on more videos? Or do I want to do more shorts for YouTube and TikTok and Instagram? I can't do it all. Do I want to write another cookbook? I can't do it all. So I'm having to pick and choose, though. A podcast is something I would like to do in the new year as well.

    Michael Jamin:

    And a cooking podcast or no? Or just a new No, what would it be?

    Max Miller:

    It would be more history focused. All the history that I can't talk about on the show, because I can't figure out a way to tie it into food. It would be more of that and more conversational, not quite as produced, not as scripted. More telling a story, interviews, talking to other historians, to people who are in it. Episodes where me and my brother who can just talk forever. We each read some history book and then just kevech about it for an hour. So that's what I want to do. And that again, is more about building community, giving people more of that stuff without, it's less about the money and more just about building that audience

    Michael Jamin:

    And hopefully, yeah, so you're doing it the right way, obviously. Who would've thought, I mean, when I look at your two millions subscribers, that's nuts, man. I mean, you understand that. A lot of TV shows that don't get a fraction of that. They don't get a fraction.

    Max Miller:

    I was talking to someone recently who has straddled the world of YouTube and television, and YouTube is still, social media rather, is still very much kind of the redheaded stepchild and it's traditional publishing. And traditional TV gets so much more clout, but this is actually where the dollars are, and this is where the community and the fan base is. This is still important, but he was like, do I put in two years of working on a TV show or do I put in two months of working on more YouTube videos? And the end result ends up being pretty much the same. And I own this. Netflix owns this.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting, because I was talking to a very big YouTuber who I know well a couple of weeks ago, who was pursuing, he's huge on YouTube and was pursuing some TV opportunities. Why am I doing this? It's just for validation. It's not for money, it's not for creativity, it's not for control. It's just for some stupid validation that I'll never get. Anyway. So how am I doing it?

    Max Miller:

    It's absolutely true. I mean, it's funny with the cookbook, you don't make a ton of money in cookbook sales unless you're Martha Stewart. But lemme tell you, my parents were far more impressed that I had published a cookbook, really, than my YouTube channel, because there's still a place for it. It is still important, and there is still that kind of legacy media thing about it. And I'm glad I did it because now I have a book that will get to always sit physically on a shelf, even if all digital stuff dies away from Solar Flare, that book will still be on the show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you have any worry though, because algorithms change every second, people's accounts get shut down. I mean, everything changes in a dime. Is that any concern of yours?

    Max Miller:

    I'm always stressing about it because I stress less about the algorithm changing, even though it could absolutely happen and views drop by 90% happens to other channels all the time. Personally, I'm more worried about me burning out and that happening. But I do worry about channel being taken over or faulty copyright claims, and there are ways to combat against that, but even some of the biggest creators have fallen pre to it. And so it's kind of like, I don't know. But yeah, stress about it all the time.

    Michael Jamin:

    You do. I mean, obviously the answer is get on your own platform or not be agnostic to platform, but obviously you have ones that do better than others. So what are you going to do about that?

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, I mean, obviously YouTube is really where I'm entrenched, but I am trying to make, that's one reason why I'm trying to work on the short form content, get a bigger following on Instagram and TikTok. So if something happens, I can put out a blast and say, Hey, I'm still here. There's just, I don't know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's not as easy as people think it is, and that's why people give up. And I think that's the good news, because it leaves more space for people like you who don't give up. Yeah,

    Max Miller:

    I mean, and the cool thing is everybody, I remember when I started the channel, I watched a lot of videos on how to start a YouTube channel,

    Michael Jamin:

    Really.

    Max Miller:

    And I remember so many people then were saying, YouTube is saturated. There is no more room. Who's on YouTube is on YouTube, and nobody more can get in. And obviously that's not true. And something, it's like it always grows. It's like the goldfish. It just will grow to fill whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's interesting because I've been on YouTube for a long time. I get very little traction on it. On TikTok, I'm pretty big. But YouTube, no one seems to care.

    Max Miller:

    Well, and that's the thing on TikTok, I can't usually get people to watch most of my videos. It works on YouTube. I'll have one thing that works really well on Instagram, but not on TikTok and vice versa. So when I say there's no space on YouTube, I think there absolutely is, because there are new channels hitting a million subscribers every day. But there are so many more venues. There is TikTok. There wasn't five years ago, TikTok really was very, very small. And now it's huge. And so there are just always new things coming. So if you put out good content, people I think will watch it is just they got to find it. And that usually is what takes time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I was talking to Taylor Lorenz who wrote a book on the history of influencers and stuff. There's many people who they prank videos on TikTok or YouTube or whatever, and those poor people burn out real fast because they have to constantly one up themselves, whatever this prank was today, the next one's got to be bigger. And then it's like they're destroying their lives because they have to. But you don't have to do that. You just have to come up with another recipe.

    Max Miller:

    I'm lucky in that because, yeah, I was just watching a video where it's like, why is every YouTube video the most we did every blah, blah, blah? It's because it's always, it's the Mr. Beast ification. It's like got to get bigger and bigger and bigger. But as long as there's history that I haven't covered, and there always will be, and food that I haven't covered, and there pretty much always will be. I've got stuff. So I think that before I run out of ideas, I will run out of me. I will burn out before that happens. Or not burn out, but get bored and just not enjoy it anymore. And the moment I don't enjoy it anymore,

    Michael Jamin:

    People may not realize that even the thumbnails on YouTube, there's a lot of thought that people put on thumbnails, and usually they're crazy and you don't do that. Your thumbnails are classy looking. But at some point, you must've experimented with crazy thumbnails at some point.

    Max Miller:

    I haven't gone super crazy, and this is going to sound really ridiculous. The problem with the channel growing as fast as it did meant that I didn't get a lot of time to experiment, really. By the time my videos between the second video and now they haven't changed in format at all, really. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    It works.

    Max Miller:

    It works, which is great. But there are things that I would've probably changed to make it more, to make it better or whatever, but I can't change some things now because the audience just loves it so much. And now it's just kind of, but do you really feel that?

    Michael Jamin:

    What would happen if you experimented? You're worried about losing them?

    Max Miller:

    Not so much worried about losing them. It's more I'm a collector, and so if I change too much, then it's like, well, this one doesn't belong in the collection. I have a few live streams on my channel, and I don't even count them as videos because Well, it's not in the format. So

    Michael Jamin:

    That's more than your thing though.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, it's my thing. But also if I were to start over again, I wouldn't have an eight second opening title scenes. That is YouTube death.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is, but it's not. That's part of what makes it look like a TV show, by the way.

    Max Miller:

    Yeah, no, it works. I mean, it does work, but it is kind of like, gosh, what would've happened if I hadn't had that eight seconds? But it's not enough to, since it is working, it's like, well, why change

    Michael Jamin:

    It?

    Max Miller:

    And whenever I've really experimented with thumbnails and tried to change it, I haven't noticed that they've done better, a lot better or worse, partly because my channel is a little bit more, A lot of people are like, this feels like an old PBS show. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's classier. Yeah,

    Max Miller:

    It's classier. And so I'm like, I don't think the thumbnail where I'm on there going would really, you're not going to, because the video is not going to deliver on that. That's not what the video is. And so then it is clickbait, and I hate that. So are they the best? No. But do they work? Yes. And I'm fine.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you talk to other or a lot of other creators, and do you think a lot about this or you are a little silo and you stick to what you do?

    Max Miller:

    I'm very much in my little silo. I mean, I think about it all the time, but I don't talk to many other creators about it. I do have a handful, especially in the last year since I've been traveling that I've gotten to meet. But part of the thing has been that they do have big teams. I've made friends with Josh on Mythical Kitchen, who's amazing, and he puts out so much fun stuff. But that's a big group because part of the good mythical

    Michael Jamin:

    Morning

    Max Miller:

    Production world. So when I've gone to film stuff, there's a dozen people behind the camera. They've got seven cameras and lighting in a studio, and writers and editors and everything. So it's hard to talk inside baseball with him about all aspects because he's not involved in all aspects and other people who aren't involved in all aspects. So it's kind of like, all right, who does their own thumbnails? I can talk to them. Who does their editing? Oh, I can talk to them. So that's kind of the problem with being a solo creator. There are plenty of us out there. I haven't met all that many. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Even in terms of navigating your career or navigating trolls or anything, I'm surprised you don't have. Yeah,

    Max Miller:

    No, I mean, I'm not as social as I probably should be. So there aren't many people that I talk to on a regular basis. And not creators, I mean just people in general. A handful of friends, none of whom are in this field who I talk to. I talk more about board games than I do anything else. What we do, we play board games, or most of my friends who are close do more what you do. They're professional TV writers. And so I can talk to them about writing and storytelling, which has been a huge help. But thumbnails not so much.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting. Well, max Miller, thank you so much for joining me. I think you're a huge inspiration. I think what you've done is so, I know you're rolling your eyes, but I think it's so admirable. Thank you. Like I said, in my pocket, I just like to talk to people who invent themselves, which is what you've done. You have invented yourself, and you have not asked for permission. You just did it. And all these, you put the energy out and great things have come from it. I'm not a cooking guy, and I like your videos. I just think it's wonderful what you do. So I couldn't cook any, I can't make a sandwich, but thank you so much. But yeah, so everyone should go. Is your handle the same everywhere on all your channels? Pretty much

    Max Miller:

    Tasting history with Max Miller, except on Twitter, where I think it's tasting history one.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it has to be short. Yeah, Twitter is short. Everyone go follow him. Go check out his channel. It's such an interesting, I imagine you're going to have some great Christmas content coming up because to, yes. Sure. Great. Max, thank you so much. Don't go anywhere. Thank you for joining me and everyone be inspired by this guy. Keep creating for more. Keep following me next week and keep creating. Alright,

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

    1h 3m | Dec 20, 2023
  • Ep 111 - Influencer/Creator Expert Taylor Lorenz

    On this week's episode, I have influencer/creator expert Taylor Lorenz. Tune in as we talk about her book, “Extremely Online: The Untold Story Of Fame, Influence, And Power On The Internet” as well as her experiences working as a journalist for “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times”. We also dive into some tidbits she has about social media.

    Show Notes

    Taylor Lorenz on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylorlorenz/?hl=en

    Taylor Lorenz on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@taylorlorenz?lang=en

    Taylor Lorenz on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp38w5n099xkvoqciOaeFag

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Taylor Lorenz:

    These old school entertainment people come on and they don't really understand the app and they clearly are not doing it themselves. They have some content assistant and then they're like, Hey kids, I guess I have to be here now. And it's like, what are you doing here? I will say the musicians do a better job. Megan Trainor has Chris Olsson, but TikTok buddy that, and music is such a part of TikTok, I feel like they get a warmer reception.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity, I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone, what the hell? It's Michael Jamin talking about today. I'm going to tell you what I'm talking about. So for those of you who have been listening for a long time, I'm always telling you, just put your work out there. Get on social media, start making a name for yourself, because whether you want to be an actor or a writer or director, you got to bring more to the table than just your desire to get a big paycheck and become rich and famous. If you can bring a market, if you can bring your audience you're going to bring, that brings a lot to the table. And so my next guest is an expert on this, and she's the author of Extremely Online, the Untold Story of Fame, influence and Power on the Internet. I'm holding up her book. If you're watching this podcast, if you're driving in the car, you can imagine that there's a book and has a cover. So please welcome, pull over your car and give a round of applause to Taylor Lorenz. Thank you Taylor for coming and joining me for talking about this. It's an honor meeting you finally.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, likewise. Excited to be here.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you wrote this great book, which I read, and there's so much, I guess there's so much. You actually document the history starting from the beginning of mommy bloggers and all these people who kind of were at the forefront and then built a name for themselves on social media. And so I'm just hoping to talk to you about how we can take some of this information and apply it to the people who listen to my podcast and follow me on social media so that they can help do the same. So I guess starting from the beginning, what was interesting that you pointed out is that women were kind of at the forefront at this whole thing. You want to talk about that a little bit?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, definitely. I mean, I talk about this in the book, but in the turn of the millennium, the early aughts, this blogging was taking off and there were tons of blogs, and I talk about some of the big political and tech blogs at the time, but it wasn't really until the mommy bloggers entered onto the internet in the early aughts who were these moms, these stay at home moms that really had nothing else to do. A lot of them were shut out of the labor market, and they turned to blogging and ended up really building their own kind of feminist media empires by building audiences. And they were the first to really cultivate strong personal brands online and then leverage those personal brands to monetize.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you're right about, I remember this may have been 10 years ago or maybe longer, one of my friends, our screenwriter, she developed a TV show on these mommy bloggers. And I'm like, wait a minute. And there was a couple of people who did that. Max Nik, who was a guest on my podcast a while, a couple weeks ago, same thing. He wrote a show based on shit my dad says, but it's on a Twitter feed and there's all these people. It's so interesting. I was a little late to the game in terms of Hollywood exploiting all these markets, these people who are making names for themselves. Lemme back up for a second though. Why did you decide to even write this book?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, so I started covering this. I started as a blogger myself a little bit later.

    Michael Jamin:

    What were you blogging?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I was blogging about my life, a lot, about my life and a lot of about online culture stuff. I thought that the mainstream media was really bad at covering the internet, and so I thought, I'm going to write about the internet. This was when I was young millennial, right out of college.

    Michael Jamin:

    You were writing about your personal life?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yes.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. So that's a whole different thing. You're opening yourself up to everything. And was there any, I know I'm jumping around here, I guess I have so many questions, but I don't know, was there backlash from that? Were there repercussions? Because we're talking about people do this. What's the backlash?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Well, this was like 2009, so it was such a different internet, and I'm so grateful, honestly, that I was blogging in that era and not this era because I think I didn't get a lot of backlash. I had a great community. I met some of my best friends, were other bloggers from that era. I became very popular on Tumblr for my single serving like meme, like blogs. So yeah, I think when you're young, you're just kind of trying a lot of different things out. I didn't know what I wanted to do out of college. I'd never studied journalism. I didn't know I was working at a call center and just became popular on the internet and then was like, I guess I'm pretty good at this

    Michael Jamin:

    Stuff. Really? I didn't know that about it. You have a pretty big following on TikTok and Instagram as well, which is so weird because you're writing about something that you are also participating in. I mean, it's almost meta how you are, what you're talking about. No,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. I mean, I started, had I been able to monetize my blog nowadays, content creators on TikTok, they can monetize in 2009, 2010, couldn't, the best that you could hope for was one of those book deals that Urban Outfitters. Right?

    Michael Jamin:

    But

    Taylor Lorenz:

    You couldn't really leverage it into much. I ended up just leveraging it into a career in media, which has been fun. But

    Michael Jamin:

    See, this is what's interesting to me because right now you see so many people on social media, how do I monetize this? Meaning ads or even sponsorships, but there's other ways to monetize outside of brand deals or views on YouTube getting used. So yeah, there's a whole, I don't know. Do you think that's a large percentage of people on the internet? It seems like to me most are doing it to monetize for the brand deals. What's your take on it?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, I think now that you can monetize in that way, a lot of people, that's their end goal. I'm kind of glad. I mean, it's a double-edged sword. Who knows what I could have done if I was able to monetize, but I'm really glad actually that you couldn't, because I think myself and a lot of other bloggers, we ended up going in a lot of different ways and entering into a lot of media type of jobs that, yeah, I mean would've never gotten otherwise. And I've learned how to be a journalist and I've gotten all these opportunities and my whole career from just experimenting and having fun online. So yeah, I think I always tell people, it's great if you can monetize, get the bag. If somebody comes to you offering you thousands of dollars, why not? But I think it's really good to take that virality and leverage it into, I like what Kayla Scanlan does, or Kyla, she's the economics YouTuber, and she gives all these talks about econ now, and she has a newsletter, and she's able to just do a lot more. It's not just doing a bunch of brand deals online. It's like using it to launch a career and whatever you want to have a career in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, see, I see. That's the funny, I think it's so smart what you're saying. I see some people, I'm like wondering, what's your end game out of this? Is it just to, but what you're saying is the end game, it's interesting. The end game is to do something else. And I wonder if that's what's going on with Hollywood people when I'm encouraging people to, I don't know, put theirselves out there with their art, their writing their music or whatever in my mind, to build an audience following to basically, so you can do the next thing. But I'm wondering how often that if you see that happening for people,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think the smart ones do recognize it. I feel like the internet, you're just hopping from lily pad to lily pad a lot of the time, which I know that's how a lot of creative people feel. It's just like, I think internet fame in itself can be a goal. I mean, look, someone like Mr. Beast, you've done it. You crack the code. Most people are not going to reach that level. And so it makes a lot of sense. If you're really into food, you're making food content, use that to open your own restaurant or food line or whatever, but use it to go into something that you're interested in because then you still, you always have that online audience. I still have my online audience. I have people that have followed me for a decade and maybe they know me from my blog or I had a Snapchat show in 2016 or things that I've done over the years, but it's always in service of my broader career.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so Well, maybe tell me what that is. Do you have a broader goal ahead of all this? Other than getting a book, which is pretty impressive.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know. I never thought I would write a book. And then just, there was a lot of revisionist history once the pandemic hit in 2021 and all these venture capitalists were pouring money into the content creator world, and TikTok was taking off. People were just kind of like, they were rewriting history. And I was like, I'm going to write the definitive history. I've been around for this. And I always thought it would be interesting to write a book. I didn't know anything about the publishing industry, except I have a couple friends that did those Urban Outfitters type

    Michael Jamin:

    Books. That's so funny.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    See,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, go ahead. I don't cut you off. So your broader goals. Oh, yeah.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I love media. I love media. I want to keep working in media. I love creative sort of endeavors. I like writing. I make videos as I am very obsessed with news media, so I want

    Michael Jamin:

    To, right. So maybe more of that. There's a couple of things in that book, in your book that kind of took me a little bit by surprise. One is there are, well, first of all, I think there are people who make content. This is just my opinion, their content's a little disposable. And so you spoke about people who, I don't know, it's like pranksters who they got to keep upping the prank until it comes to a point where this one woman you're talking about, she was sick to her stomach with the pressure of having to come up with something all the time. And to me, it felt like that's because you're making, I guess I have a rule. I have a rule. I was like, I don't want to spend more than 10 minutes a day on this. But there are people who spend on posting, but there are people who put way a lot of time and pressure on this, and it winds up destroying themselves, don't you think?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh, a hundred percent. I mean, there's a whole bunch of that in my book of just the burnout. And I think, like you said, it comes from just making content for content's sake and feeling like it's an extra burden and giving it, it's also when it's your whole livelihood, the stakes become higher. That's why I say you should diversify a little bit.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. There was another, the thing that really surprised me that I learned from your book, because I'm a little older, so I don't really know all this stuff, but there's a whole culture of content creators who their job is just to talk shit about other content creators.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    And I'm like,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh my God. And I've witnessed some of this stuff, but I didn't realize it's really a thing, like a gossip. They're just gossipers, right?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. They basically have replaced tabloid news for the internet, and yeah, it's a huge drama channel industrial complex online that you're lucky if you've not encountered.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And do they go anywhere with, what do you think is the end game for them?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Well, I mean, the woman that runs DUIs, which is more of a blind item, celebrity news page, she has a podcast. She also, she wrote a novel kind of based around the content. Others like Diet Prada have really successful newsletters. A lot of the other commentators like Keemstar and stuff, their goal is just to basically run these media empires of gossip, kind of like a TMZ for the internet.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how are they further monetizing though?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They monetize through partnerships and brand deals and a lot through YouTube ads. They get a lot of views. A lot of them get a lot of views on YouTube.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, I just turned, maybe I'm crazy, but I turned down a brand deal today because I thought, I don't know, it doesn't align with anything that I stand for. And I was like, am I crazy for turning this down? Or I don't know. But have you get approached by things that, are you turning stuff down?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Well, yeah, I have to turn down so much stuff. I'll never forget a tech company, which I will not name, offered me $60,000 to do three video, three audio chat rooms for them.

    Michael Jamin:

    What is an audio chat room?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Like? A live chat type thing? It was going to be like three hours of work. And obviously I couldn't do it because I can't take on sponsored content. I'm a journalist. You can't do that, especially not with a tech company. But I have to say that one really made me question my career choices. Normally people are like, can you promote X, Y, Z? And I explained that I don't do.

    Michael Jamin:

    So there's nothing that you can promote a journalist. There's nothing.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I mean, I could theoretically probably promote companies that I don't cover, but I don't really want to, I don't need to make $500 promoting a mop.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right. Yeah, it's so interesting. You have to protect what you, it's so odd because I don't see a lot of people making brand when I'm scrolling through my pages for you a page on TikTok, I don't see a lot of people making brand deals, but I guess they are, right? Am I not seeing it?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, the branded content doesn't always live on TikTok. A lot of times they'll create whitelisted content that the brand then promotes in a TikTok ad.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, when you say white, okay, explain this to me. So whitelisted means the creator. Go ahead.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    The creator creates branded content, but it doesn't necessarily live on their feed. They create it for the brand, and then the brand will use that video they made to the creator, like, wow, I love my air stick selfie thing. They'll run ads. So it's using that creator's likeness in the ad. It's the video that they made, but you're not going to see it on their page. You're going to see it in the,

    Michael Jamin:

    But do they not put it on their page or you're not going to see it? No one's going to watch it.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Sometimes they do put it on their page, sometimes they don't. I mean, all of these are negotiated in the terms of the ad deals, which are structured increasingly in complicated ways. But I mean, there's a lot of spun con on TikTok. Also, sometimes there's product placement on TikTok. You'll see people doing videos with certain products. Sometimes the products have paid to be in their,

    Michael Jamin:

    And they have to mention this, right? They have to, I wasn't aware of this, but theoretically, yes, theoretically. But you're saying they don't always mention it. They don't always say, this is

    Taylor Lorenz:

    The sponsor. So the FTC says Yes, and I write about that decision in 2017 when they had to do that. The thing is that a lot of times they can get away with not saying it because it's not directly sponsored. For instance, you could have a long-term, year long partnership with the brand. They could be giving you tons of free product, but they didn't directly pay you for that post. So you feel like, oh, I don't have to disclose it,

    Michael Jamin:

    But they paid you for something. I mean, that doesn't make sense. They paid you. It's totally great. Okay. Yeah. But

    Taylor Lorenz:

    People get around it by kind of fudging things.

    Michael Jamin:

    Who would get in trouble then if they got caught? The brand, not the TikTok or whatever.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Not really. I mean, they went after Kim Kardashian. If you're that level, they'll go after you. But normally they're going after the brands. The brands are usually doing this. And also it's ultimately the brand or the agency that's running the marketing campaign that's up. It's up to them to enforce it and be like, Hey, put this in your caption.

    Michael Jamin:

    You said something else that surprised me in your book is that at one point, maybe it's still this way that the agencies are making the money and many of the creators are not getting that money. Explain to me what happens. I read it twice. It's like, wait, I'm missing something. So

    Taylor Lorenz:

    There's been this explosion in sort of middlemen agencies, management companies that have come in. And what they do is they find these up and coming creators, they sign them into contracts like, Hey, I'll handle all your spun con, or I'll come in and do this deal. And then they take a huge portion, the brand pays maybe a hundred thousand dollars for a campaign. The agency will come in and take 50% of that or something, and then the rest goes to the creators. They allocate it, so

    Michael Jamin:

    They're getting something. You could

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Argue that they are providing a service, and that's true, but the less ethical agencies are less upfront about the amount that they're taking.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. Oh, they don't tell you how much it is? Probably,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. They won't tell you what the brand originally paid. They'll just say, oh, it's $10,000 for this campaign. Nevermind that we got a hundred thousand dollars from the actual

    Michael Jamin:

    Brand. Oh, wow. Yeah. There's so much to be careful. There really is. And so I asked you a little bit earlier if you knew of many. Okay, so I'll let give you an example from my experience. So I did a show, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago, maybe not maybe 10. And the studio, we had a cast a role, and the studio wanted to get an influencer to play the part because this influencer had a bigger audience than the network had. And he turned it down several times because the money, he was going to paid a lot of money, but the money wasn't worth it to him. He was making more on a daily, which I was shocked about. And so do you know more? Can you speak more to that?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    That happens all the time. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Really?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I thought this guy was crazy, but okay, go on.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Well, I mean, for a lot of content creators, their goal, it depends on the content creators. Some content creators, their goal is to get into Hollywood, and that would be an amazing opportunity for them. But especially the ones at the upper echelon, they're already the a-list of the internet. They're making millions of dollars. They really don't need to engage. And maybe it's a fun thing if they want to do it, and they have time and it's like a novelty type thing, or it adds some sort of legitimacy to them. But a lot of times, if they're spending, for instance, hours on a set, that's money out of their pocket that they could be making a lot. So it kind of doesn't make sense. And people have struggled. Not every content creator succeeds as well. So I think some of them do have that feeling of like, look, I'm really good at this. I know I'm really good at this. I'm making money. Do I want to gamble? Take time away from that. Try my hand at this thing that maybe I have and succeeded at before. It's not always there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Maybe I shouldn't even ask this on as we're being recorded. Do you know this guy, nurse Blake? Have you heard of him?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I don't think so. Wait,

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Because I can't tell if he's a comedian or a nurse, but whatever he is, he's selling out arenas.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh, I know this guy. I've seen him before. Yes. He's a comedian, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, he doesn't act, but I also see him also posting in the hospital. It seems like he could be selling out arenas, but also he likes doing the rounds or something. I don't know. Yeah.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So it's so funny. I don't know when you joined TikTok, but the earliest content creators on TikTok back in 2018, when it flipped from musically to TikTok, the earliest groups of content creators that emerged were police officers, nurses and service workers. And they were all gaining huge audiences. And I think it's because those jobs have an enormous amount of downtime, and they kind of almost have interesting stages themselves. They're always in the hospital or at Walmart working or whatever. And so there's a lot of people like that on social media that have kind of pivoted their career in that way to,

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. I've been on a TikTok for maybe two and a half years, and at first I was very self-conscious. I was like, isn't this the app where teenage girls shuffle dance? Am I going to be the creepy guy on this app? And you're saying, it's so hard to tell. I mean, the first time, my first week and a half of posts were like this, this is cringey.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They always say, you know what? My favorite quote is that I think all the time Xavier from Party Shirt said this, that everything is cringe until it gets views. And I think that's

    Michael Jamin:

    True. Until it gets

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It's popular. It's not cringe anymore,

    Michael Jamin:

    I guess. So when you first started posting, did you look to anyone for, I don't know, to emulate?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. I mean, there's this woman, Katie nais, who's still hilarious internet person, and she's a blogger too. She ended up working at Buzzfeed for a decade. I always just wanted to be like her. She was so creative and funny. She had this website called, I think it was called Party something. She would aggregate really funny party photos, and she just was really good at finding funny things on the internet.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you know, have you reached out to her?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, now I'm friends with her because I've been obsessed with her for my whole career. So she

    Michael Jamin:

    Very really, so now you have a friendship with her. That's nice. Do you get recognized a lot when you're out and about?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Not in la. No one gives a shit about me in la.

    Michael Jamin:

    But when you're out somewhere else, if I'm not

    Taylor Lorenz:

    VidCon or something, yeah, usually. I mean, I got recognized in DC on my book tour when I was eating. That was cool. But yeah, sometimes, I mean, when I was doing my Snapchat show, I got recognized a lot more, I think, because a lot of kids were seeing me on the Snapchat Discover Channel thing.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was on your link tree, you're everywhere, but are you active on every, I'm like, damn. She's on every platform.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I'm an equal opportunity poster. Well, I mean, I cover this world, so I kind of feel obligated to be on everything. I definitely think Instagram and TikTok are my main ones. And then I have threads also now,

    Michael Jamin:

    Which I, are you making different content you posting? Are you reposting or posting brand new stuff? Everywhere.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I repost. If I make a short video for TikTok, I repost it on reels and YouTube shorts. YouTube's always the one that I like. I'm so lazy about, honestly,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's hard to grow on YouTube. It's so

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Hard to grow, and I don't know, it's just like there's something demoralizing about YouTube.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    But yeah, I think it's because it's like, you know how it is, it's like you post something, you get a hundred thousand views on TikTok, it's doing really well on Instagram. And then you go on YouTube and it's like me, 2000 views, and you're like, oh, I'm a

    Michael Jamin:

    Failure. What's the point of that? And you were blocked. Are you still blocked from Twitter or whatever? Twitter is?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. Elon banned me for a while. I did get back on. I don't really, Twitter is dead to me, honestly.

    Michael Jamin:

    What did you do to get banned?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I was, well, he banned me under this rule that he made that said you couldn't promote your links to other social media profiles. And I was promoting my Instagram account, so that's what he technically banned me under. But what he really banned me for is that I reached out to him for comment. I wrote a story about how he completely lied about a bunch of stuff, and I reached out to him for comment. And the minute I reached out to him for comment, I got banned. And then he tried to say, oh, it was actually because she was promoting her Instagram. No,

    Michael Jamin:

    That was Oh, interesting. So do you think he was guy, do you, you made it he enemy. He responds. He knows who you are and hates you.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. Oh, he definitely, yes. I mean, I've interacted with him somewhat frequent basis, but that week I was not the only journalist that was banned for reporting on him. So the same week, drew Harwell, my colleague was banned, and then a bunch of people from the New York Times, we all got banned within a week, so

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Back

    Taylor Lorenz:

    On.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then they let you back on. Interesting. And then you're, screw this.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    But yeah, Twitter is also just very toxic and political, and I think culture is happening more on TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't you think they're all toxic?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh, totally. But I think Twitter's uniquely toxic. TikTok is toxic in a different way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. I want to know what you think the differences are in each platform, because I have opinions, but Okay. Yeah. What are your differences? I mean,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Twitter is just very political, and it's political in a way that there's a lot of, especially as a member of the media, it's like there's a lot of journalists on there. I think it's a giant group chat for a lot of media people. It's stressful. Editors, bosses are on there. I don't really use it. I use it to keep up with, I'm super immunocompromised, and so I keep up with Covid News on there. It's really the only thing I use it for. It's really hard to get news and information because Elon has sort of made so many changes to make it hard to get news on there. So I don't mess with Twitter. TikTok I love. But yeah, I mean, TikTok is just mob mentality. So I mean, I'll never forget. I defended, do you remember West Elm Caleb?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. And it's so funny when you say these names. I'm like, these ridiculous names. I'm like, no, I don't know that comic book character.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Okay, well, west Elm Caleb a year and a half ago was getting canceled on TikTok. He was a guy that ghosted a bunch of people. He ghosted a bunch of women, and a bunch of women went on TikTok, like, this guy's a ghoster. And it got so crazy that he got fully doxxed and fired from his job. And anyway, I defended him and I was like, Hey guys, can we calm down a little bit? We haven't even heard this guy's side of the story. I believe he shouldn't be an asshole to women, but I've been doxxed. It sucks. Don't do that. And TikTok, they came for me hard on that one. They were like, no,

    Michael Jamin:

    No,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Somebody from West Tom, Caleb.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then, yeah. How worried are you about, I worry about that. How worried about you getting haters and stuff?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I've gotten haters. I write about YouTubers for a living. So if I was worried about haters, it doesn't matter. My friend is a pop music writer, and he was saying, he told me a couple years ago, because if anytime you are covering something with a fandom, you're going to deal with haters. And they're vicious, but a lot of them are 11 years old, or they're just online and they're mad and

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Do you respond to your posts comments on your post? You do.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I do. I try to mean, don't try not to respond to haters. Sometimes I'm weak and I do respond to the haters, but no

    Michael Jamin:

    Good comes of it. Right? When you do, no,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No good comes of it. But sometimes you just, I don't know. You just got to, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Even if you respond with kindness, which I did today to somebody, he just doubled down on his stupidity. They don't care. Why am I trying to,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They don't care at all. They're like, fuck you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. No, it doesn't help. I mean, sometimes if I'm bored, I've replied something, but I mostly just ignore those people, or I limit my comments and I try to keep it to that only my community's engaging and not a bunch of randos. Or if they have a good faith question, I get a lot of story ideas from people commenting. Or sometimes smart people will comment, you click on their profile, you're like, oh, cool. Person's interesting. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Okay. So you sound emotionally mature about this whole thing? Maybe more than I am because I get upset sometimes.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, trust me, I've had my moments. It's hard. But I think I've just been through it so long. I've been through the cycle so many times that I'm immune.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you talk to your colleagues who, I guess, are they as active as you are on, let say on TikTok? No. Other reporters?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Journalists are not. It's weird with journalists on TikTok. They're not really, journalists are so addicted to Twitter. Twitter is where everyone in the media is. And there's some journalists on TikTok, but not that many. So the ones that are, I think we all try to support each other,

    Michael Jamin:

    Or it's just not competitive. Yeah, it's supportive. You think?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I try to be supportive. I don't, like somebody said this really early on of Don't compete collab or something. It was like early thing. And I really like that. I felt that with blogging too. I had made friends with a lot of bloggers. We were all in the same group. And it's just like the internet is really vast and everyone is unique. And

    Michael Jamin:

    There's not too

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Many internet culture reporters either. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, that's a question I can't tell how big TikTok is. Sometimes I'll see, oh my God, this creator knows that creator, and they talk whether they stick to each other. I'm like, wow, this is a small place. But then I'm wondering, well, maybe I'm only seeing this wedge of the pie, and it's actually much larger. I can't get a sense of how big this thing is.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It is really big. I mean, it's like billions of users, so it's really big. But I do think that in

    Michael Jamin:

    Terms of the creators though, the

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Creator community is smaller than you think. And I think the people that are really active, they form a network. And you're always going to get people that are a couple degrees away from people that you follow usually.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Where do you think, I'm certainly not the first person to say this, but during the early days of Instagram, it was always about people. This is the glamorous life. It was all made up. It was like they got sponsored posts to be on a yacht or whatever. They're pretending to be rich and famous or whatever. And because we're all idiots, we're like, wow, they're rich and famous, and they're living that life. And then that somehow evolved to now influences turn to creators, and creators are more authentic. This is my life. Take it or leave it. What do you think there's next? What comes next after that? Do you have any idea? Yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I mean, I think we always flip back and forth between aspirational versus authenticity. And people want a little bit of both. People still want the aspirational content. It's just not everything. And I do think that the authenticity is part of the appeal, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon. But yeah, I don't know. I mean, different content formats perform well depending on what the platform is promoting. So right now, they really want long form video. So I think we're going to see people that succeed in long form grow faster.

    Michael Jamin:

    But do you think when you're posting, maybe you don't even want to answer this on the air. I wouldn't blame you. Are you thinking about, oh, this post will do Well, I should talk about this. I know it'll do well. Or is it like, this is what I'm talking about, take it or leave it?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. It depends on the day. Some days so many times where I'm like, oh, I know this would do well, but I just don't feel like posting today.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really? Especially

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Lately, oh my God. There's been so many things where I'm like, oh, that's going to go viral. And then I see somebody else posted and I'm like, good. They got the traffic. You have to be early on something. And then sometimes just most stuff I just post because I think it's interesting, and it's just my taste and news and information and just something I found interesting. But how

    Michael Jamin:

    Long will you spend on a post? Do you do it again and again until you get it right? No. One take and you're done?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Usually, maybe I'll do two or three if I might rerecord something, but I don't take it that seriously. It's just one of many things I'm doing during the day, so not, and especially since I've been on book tour, I've just been too busy to make. I go through periods and it depends on how busy I am, how many videos I'm making.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how much of your personal life, because I know you're talking about technology and you're interviewing people and you're covering events like a journalist, but how much of yourself do you share?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I share my opinions. I mean, I'm very opinionated, and I think I always tell people that you can be very authentic. And I think a lot of people would find me to be very authentic person online. I'm not a shy person or something, but I don't talk about my personal information. Also, it's not that interesting, I think. Oh, but

    Michael Jamin:

    People would love to know. People would love to know. I know Date you

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Nosy. They're nosy. But I think about all the cool stuff that I did in my twenties, and I'm like, I wish I had TikTok, I think back then, and I was talking about my life more. I was doing more and going out more. And now I'm like, I have a little bit more of a chill life. So sometimes I talk about walking around the Silver Lake reservoir or something, but I'm not like, if I go to a really interesting event, maybe I'll share it. I mean, I just went to Dubai and I actually haven't posted yet, but I'm making a video about that.

    Michael Jamin:

    I can't believe you went. That flight is just too long. I would think it was

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So long. It was so long. But I got invited to this book festival, and I thought, when else am I going to go?

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, what is a book festival?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So there's this really big book festival called the Sharjah International Book Festival, and it's huge. And there's thousands of authors and books, and yeah, I got invited to speak, and I thought,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, you're speaking. So what if you're not speaking, what happens to Is everyone, okay? If you weren't invited to speak, would you be at a booth? What is it? Yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    You just attend. I mean, there's thousands of people that attend and they just come from all over to, there's a lot of book buyers, and then there's a lot of publishing industry people in the Middle East and in Europe and that side of the world. And then there's just a lot of people that are interested in meeting the authors, going to panels. There's a lot of celebrity author type people there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Who's setting that up? Your publisher or who?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, the publisher. Actually, I think maybe my book agent forwarded it to me. They were forwarded it to me, look at this random thing, and I was like, no, that's so cool. I want to do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, wow, really? And so did they fly you out?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, they flew me out. They didn't pay me or anything. They just flew me out and covered my travel, which honestly was enough for me. It was pretty cool. How

    Michael Jamin:

    Many days were you there?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I was only there for three, four days. Four days,

    Michael Jamin:

    Including the flight, which was the

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Travel was a day on each side because the travel was

    Michael Jamin:

    Long. And then you were there for the rest of the time, and you spoke on the panel? I was on the panel. That's an hour,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Michael. I just did tourist stuff. I didn't have to do anything aside from that, so I was like, let me just go.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. So it was a chance for you to be a tourist.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. My friend is an editor over there for Bloomberg, and so we hung out and just did all the cool Dubai stuff together.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I'm curious because it's interesting, since you were a journalist, are we supposed to know anything about you? I mean, are there rules? Yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It's so funny. So the old school sort of notions of journalism is like, I'm serious, and I don't talk about my life, and I never share an opinion. I think that's a very outdated and dumb model of journalism that nobody will trust. That's why we have a crisis in media, I think, of trust is because people don't know about, there's so much mistrust in the media, and I'd much rather be upfront with my beliefs and tell people, Hey, look, this is what I'm thinking about the issue. Do you think I'm wrong? Do you think I'm right? Ultimately, the goal of writing any article is to be fair and accurate.

    Michael Jamin:

    We

    Taylor Lorenz:

    All

    Michael Jamin:

    Have. I thought you weren't supposed to be biased. I thought you were supposed to. Why do I know? I thought you supposed to. This is the

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Fact everyone. Everyone has opinions, right? There's no such thing on earth. The point is, is that you're not allowed. You shouldn't let that kind of shape the story to the point that it alters the truth. But to act like, oh, I don't have opinions as a journalist, that's stupid. We're all human beings. We all have opinions. Baseball writers that write about sports teams, they still are fans of a specific team. That doesn't mean that it's going to shape their coverage. That's the most important thing. It's like, I might love or hate certain things on the internet, but I'm not going to let it affect some story to the point that it would be truthful. You know what I mean?

    Michael Jamin:

    This gets into something else. Whereas you're kind of maybe, I don't know if this isn't the right word, but a celebrity journalist, because you recently had a photo spread in this magazine, and they're dressing you up and couture, right? I mean, so what's that about? You're celebrity journalist.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know. I've been in a couple things like that. Yeah, I mean, look, journalists have always been, it's always been a public facing job. It's always been a public. I mean, Woodward and Bernstein, obviously. Bob Woodward also works at The Post. He's incredibly famous. Anderson Cooper, Barbara Walters, the original female journalist, Katie Couric. All these journalists are, well-known household names because of their journalism, but of course, they're also people. And I think with the internet now, that's all come to a smaller scale. I'm definitely not at those people's levels at all. But with the internet, I think we all follow journalists and content creators. And again, it goes back to transparency. That's what I think is a big problem with that old model of media, where it's like, don't ever speak your opinion or something on anything. Because I think actually when you don't and you try to sort of act like, oh, I don't have an opinion, that's a lie.

    Everyone has an opinion on everything. Or maybe, but you should just be honest about it because that helps people trust you. I can be like, look, I don't love, this is a total example. I do love Emma Chamberlain, but I could be like, I don't love Emma Chamberlain, but I had the opportunity to interview her editing style was pioneering. It transformed YouTube. I wrote about it in my book, X, Y, Z. I'm not going to let my personal feelings about her color, but I would answer questions about it. If somebody asked me, I'd be like, well, here's my thoughts.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay, so what is your daily life then? Do you freelance all these? How does it work? What is your life?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, I work for the Washington Post. So I am on our morning meeting every day at 8:00 AM on Zoom.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. Is no one, well, that's a good question. Is everyone online now? If you work for the Washington Post, does no one go to the office?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They have a big office in Washington, but I moved out here with the New York Times, so I was at the New York Times for several years, and New York Times does have an office in la. So they moved me out here, and then the Post recruited me, and I was like, well, I'm not leaving la. And they have a lot of people from the post in LA obviously as well. Are you

    Michael Jamin:

    From, I thought you were from la. No,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No. I live in la, but I'm from New York originally.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, where are you in New York? Are you from?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Well, I lived on the Upper East Side when I was little, and I lived all over New York. I've lived, I think 11 different neighborhoods,

    Michael Jamin:

    But all, not all in Manhattan?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, no, no, no. Mostly in Brooklyn. I was in Fort Green before I moved.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay. I didn't know that. So you're a New Yorker. Okay. Yeah. And then not anymore. So are you pitching them ideas or are they telling you, this is what we want you to cover today?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It's a mix. I would say it's probably like 80 to 90% coming up with your own ideas. The rest of it. Sometimes there's an editor assigned story. Most of the time it's breaking news. So for instance, the war breaks out. I cover TikTok. I cover the content. So they're like, well, is there an angle on it?

    Michael Jamin:

    Why is news? My God. So what is most of your day then? Is it surfing the internet, or is it making calls to experts or whatever?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, it's a mix. I wish it was surfing the internet all day, but it's a lot of meetings, a lot of, we have editorial meetings where we discuss coverage and we all give feedback on our stories. And I have meetings with my editor to talk about stories. I write features, so I generally write longer pieces. Sometimes I'm working on investigations for months.

    Michael Jamin:

    And then how did you have, go ahead. Go

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Ahead. Oh, yeah, it's a mix of, I do a lot of interviews and I do a lot of informational interviews, and I do a lot of consuming content and

    Michael Jamin:

    Keeping Well, then where did you get the time to write this book? It sounds very busy.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know. And I didn't take book leave like an idiot. I was like, I'll just do it nights and weekends.

    Michael Jamin:

    People go on book leave.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Leave, yeah. But it's unpaid, so that's how they get you. And I didn't want to do that, so I thought I'll just try to do it all on top of my job. And I did, but it took me two years.

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you working on your next book? What's that?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, I'm not doing another book.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're done for now, but you will at some point

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Maybe. Sure. Like yours. I don't want to do that right now.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was really hard. Why? I know. It was a lot of work, a lot of research, and

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Just the fact-checking. I interviewed about 600 people for the book, and it was just a lot. And throughout it all, I make videos, I do. I speak at things. I go to events. I have a lot going on in between.

    Michael Jamin:

    And how are you getting these speaking engagements? You're a celebrity now?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No. No, but I talk at industry conferences type stuff a lot. Just like VidCon or things like

    Michael Jamin:

    That. What is VidCon? Stop talking. I know what I'm talking about. I don't even know what that is.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Wait, Michael, you need to come to VidCon next year.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't even know what it is.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh my God. VidCon is the largest, so

    Michael Jamin:

    Ignorant.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, no, no. You know what? You would have no reason to know it. It's the biggest conference for, it's a convention for online content creators. It's in Anaheim every year. They also have VidCon Baltimore this year. But it's a big convention where all the big content creator type people get together and the industry sort of.

    Michael Jamin:

    So are you going as a guest or are you going as a speaker?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I've mostly, in recent years, gone as a speaker, but I used to go as a guest.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so what do you do as a guest?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    As a guest, you get to meet your biggest, you meet the big content creators that are there, talkers meet and greets. You go to panels, you can go to events. There's parties. It's kind of like a fun thing if you're up and coming or you care about the internet. It used to be a really big thing. I mean, I talk about this a little bit in the book, but it started in 2010, and it started as this small thing of just the biggest creators on the internet getting together just because there was no event, physical event. And then it got bought by Viacom, and now it's this huge.

    Michael Jamin:

    So now they reach out to you to say, we want you to be on a panel or something.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, I'm always talking about, sometimes I do interviews with big content creators on the main stage. They need somebody to interview Charlie Delio or something. And so I'll do that. Sometimes. I'm talking about, I mean, I did one, I think it was last year or the year before, on news content creators. That's something that people always want me to talk

    Michael Jamin:

    About all. So we don't live far for each other. So we'll ride fair. If you like riding in a Jeep, you're not afraid of writing into Jeep.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think you might be recognized. Maybe you'll be a speaker soon. They love the entertainment people. There was some women they had there one year. They always get some weird entertainment celebrity that has a YouTube channel to come, and they're always really out of place. It's very funny.

    Michael Jamin:

    They wait, why would they be out of place if they're famous? If they're a celebrity? They're

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Not internet people. They don't even run their own channel usually.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I see. So that's a whole different thing when celebrities put themselves. That's the thing. I read somewhere, well, I guess there was pushback when a celebrity gets on YouTube, it's like, Hey, or TikTok, get off TikTok celebrity. It's like, why is everyone so mad? But I guess maybe talk a little about that. What happens when they try to do that?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think it's just these old school entertainment. People come on and they don't really understand the app and they clearly are not doing it themselves. They have some content assistant and then they're like, Hey kids, I guess I have to be here now. And it's like, what are you doing here? I will say, the musicians do a better job. Megan Trainor has Chris Olsson, her TikTok buddy that, and music is such a part of TikTok. I feel like they get a warmer reception. But people, I mean, when Reese Smith first joined, people were like, they were in the comments being mean to

    Michael Jamin:

    Her. Aren't you rich enough? Reese? But there is some woman I follow, and I was shocked. I'm like, there's so many ways that people are making on this. And she talks about politics, so she's like a punt. That's her passion. So I'm like, okay, let's get her take on it. But she also does these, they're called TRO trips. Have you heard of this TRO Trotro trip? And so basically it's this website. So she'll run a trip in Europe, we're going to Italy for a week, come onto this and you can pay her basically to be your tour guide.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh, this, I see. It's like a host. They're hosting you for the tour. Interesting. Oh my gosh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. I'm like, how smart. So she basically gets a free trip, but she has to be with people for a week. She's the host. Well,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They were doing that with our New York Times when I was at the New York Times. I think they stopped doing it because one of the reporters was being controversial on the trip, and I think they kind of scaled back the program, but I think they were like, actually, we don't want our reporters talking to the public. But they used to have people travel with New York Times reporters, and that was a way that the New York Times made money off journalists.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, wow. And for the same kind of thing where let's go tour the Vatican or something.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It would be like tour the Vatican with the Times

    Michael Jamin:

    Reallys recording or whatever. It's so weird. But there's just so many ways for people to, I don't know, make a name for themselves. I was good for her.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, totally. I mean, there's just endless ways to monetize online.

    Michael Jamin:

    I haven't discovered any of them yet, but I'm waiting for it. I got my eyes peeled, but okay, so yeah, so you go to this VidCon thing, you do a panel, and then people want your opinion. And I imagine it's people a lot smaller than you who aspire to be you.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. Or it's just people in different industries that are there to learn more about the industry or It's a lot of brand people too. The head of marketing for Walmart or something.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Want to understand the ecosystem.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, so they're not talking, I don't know, conferences. I don't know what this is about. It depends.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I mean, sometimes those people, if they're really good, I mean, I actually know the woman who runs the Walmart, influencer marketing was also at this event I was at recently. So that's a bad example. But a lot of times it's like marketers, maybe they're not totally in it yet, or they're a brand that wants to understand the content creator world, but they don't. Maybe they're not doing that yet, or they want to do more of it. So they go to these events to build connections. And

    Michael Jamin:

    So you're saying, I should go to this thing.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think you should go to VidCon. It's interesting. It's fun to just go to once. And there's a lot of fans there too. So there's the industry side, then there's the fan side, and then there's just all these sort of adjacent events.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    Alright, so what about other people who have, I guess, transition from, I guess I'm saying, what I'm thinking is how can we help my listeners into, I don't know, everyone turns to me for like, Hey, what should I put on? It's like, I don't know, just build a following. Do you have advice for them?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Everyone asked me the same thing, and I'm like, I wish it was easy. If I could give you a three step thing, we would all have millions of followers. I mean, a huge part is consistency, which is very hard. And I have to say, you post forever. You can't get obsessed with the views because people just quit and they feel like, oh, if you have an audience of 500 people, that really matters. It is very much about creating more of a community of people, and it is scale. So I think it's just, that's so valuable, and it also matters who's following you, rather than just getting random views. You want influential or interesting or whatever type of market you're trying to go for. You want the right people to follow you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, this is something that I was always perplexed at the beginning of TikTok, so I guess both of them, but on TikTok, you have followers that are, I get all these followers. I'm like, but if I have all these followers and only a 10th of them are seeing an average post or less, what's the point? Why? Why do I keep track of this metric? Why do they have the metric of followers if they don't show it to your followers?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    The way that I explain TikTok is following is just one signal to the algorithm. It's one signal out of probably thousands. And so it's useful. It's like, I have an affinity to this person. Obviously, you follow people too. Then you're mutuals, and then you can DMM with each other more, or comment. Sometimes you can put videos to Mutuals only. So there is a value, I think, in following, but most of people's experience is of consuming content on TikTok is obviously through the for you page. So I wouldn't even, followers doesn't matter that much, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    It doesn't.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    And also it's like, again, it goes back to who is following you. There's so many creators that people always wonder this with press, because people are like, why? How do I get written about? And it's really not about how big you are. It's like, do you have something new and interesting, or have you cultivated some sort of unique audience that maybe hasn't been served before? Things like that. So you don't have to be the biggest,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I say this, there's this one guy, I'm trying to remember his name, but he has a show, he's sold a show somewhere. I should know his name, but it was a Twitter feed, and he was just writing, he had a thriller. So every day he posts a little different line from this thriller he was writing. Oh, cool. And then it just blew up because it's mystery and suspense, and people wanted to find out what was in the basement or whatever. Then he was able to, I was like, oh, that's a good idea. So he did it. And so I don't know. Are you following any other people who do anything like that?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Twitter. Twitter. There was this period on Twitter where there were a lot of TV writers and comedians were trying things out there, and you could really get traction, and people were looking at Twitter. Now, no one's looking at that anymore. I would say it's much more TikTok and Instagram for comedy, and that's just where it is. But I mean, things people make, I mean, I was interested, this guy, Ari Kagan, who is kind of like a young director, content creator. He doesn't like to be called a content creator, but he just sold a show with Adam McKay, where they're making it for TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:

    They're making it for TikTok. Wait a minute, what does that mean?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They're going to make it on TikTok. It's going to live on TikTok, I guess,

    Michael Jamin:

    But not as, what we do is some kind of different TikTok channel or something where it's long form.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah, yeah, it's, hold on, let me find it. I want to actually get it right. Oh, yeah. Here. It's a series that they're making on TikTok. Hold on. It happened when I was, okay. I just put it in the chat. Okay. Yeah, I think it's scripted. Yeah, it's a scripted series to run on TikTok.

    Michael Jamin:

    So you may or may not. That means you may or may not see it like we were just talking

    Taylor Lorenz:

    About. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so I guess they're hoping that it'll perform well. I'm sure they're going to put paid media behind it, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. Oh, okay. How interesting. Yeah, this whole thing is so you got to be honest, people are always saying, how do I break into Hollywood? And I'm thinking, well, you don't need to. You can do this on your own.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I mean, Ari did a lot on his own initially. I think that's how a lot of people get in there, is they sort of start making their own little projects. I mean, one person that I think has done this really well, he is an actor. His name is Brian Jordan Alvarez. Do you know him?

    Michael Jamin:

    No.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Oh my God.

    Michael Jamin:

    So I got to know who.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Alright,

    Michael Jamin:

    Put him in the chat.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I'm going to put him in the chat. He was an actor on Will and Grace and he was in Megan, and he is very funny. I'll put, oh, he has a Wikipedia now. He's big time. He's an actor, but it makes this really amazing content. And he started making music online and these series online and I think it's like helped him a lot. I mean, everyone knows who he is now. He's been in Time Magazine and stuff, and it's mostly from his, he made this YouTube series a while ago that was popular, and then his tiktoks took off and he started making music. But it's like,

    Michael Jamin:

    All right, I got to follow this guy. You're saying

    Taylor Lorenz:

    He's very funny, but it's just raised his profile a lot. I think what he does on the internet, and he does it in a really fun way. And I listened to him on a podcast recently, and he was just saying how it's led to more people kind of knowing his work, and obviously people see his work and then they want to work with you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Do you have a podcast yet?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Careful.

    Michael Jamin:

    Maybe I might tune.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    We'll see, I had one and then the New York Times made me quit it. The Times is crazy about outside projects, so I quit

    Michael Jamin:

    It. Oh, really? Hope that the post is not as, maybe they don't.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They're better. That's why I work there now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. You got your hand in so many different things. Yeah. I don't know. I just thought you're absolutely fascinated because you are an expert, but you're also in it. You know what I'm saying? Yeah, yeah. Is it overwhelming for you?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think I have good boundaries because I mean, I'm grateful to be a millennial where I think it's harder for the 22 year olds today where everything, their whole social life is so enmeshed in the internet. I think I have a healthy distance from it, and I have friends that are just my friends that aren't internet.

    Michael Jamin:

    So your boundaries are basically how much time you're willing to invest every day on being online. And also just

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Like I have a very strong sense of self, and I think when you get on the internet, everybody tries to push you into doing things or making content or being like, oh, you should do this, or, oh, you should do this. And I have always had a mind of, actually, I know what I want and I'm going to do this, and I'm just going to do only what I want. I know who I am if people, because it's hard on the internet and sometimes things perform well. So if I had continued to talk about my life, I think that probably would've performed well back when I was blogging, but I made the decision to just stop doing

    Michael Jamin:

    That. But you're right, if something's controversial, I try to steer away from controversy. I feel like I'm just here to talk about art and entertainment and writing and Hollywood, but I also know if I took a bigger stand on things and pissed people off, it would go viral. But then what's the point of this? I don't know.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Then you get all these haters. I've written a lot of political stories that have to do with the content creator world and the political ecosystem, and so those are some of my most viral stories. But I have to say, it just gets you a lot of people that then follow you. They feel like, oh yeah, she's on our side on this, or whatever, or, oh, I hate her. She wrote about this content creator that. So I think it's just better to just be true to yourself. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Though I did a post couple, maybe when I first started off and it went, somehow Yahoo picked up on it and I was on Yahoo Entertainment News. My first reaction was, oh no. You know what I'm saying? Oh no. People know about me. It felt wrong. I don't know. I was like, I don't want people knowing about me.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know. It feels really, I mean, I've struggled with that a lot, and I actually really like being in LA for this reason. I was thinking just the past few years, more and more people start to know who you are and start writing about you, and that is such a mind fuck. I used to really believe, oh, every journalist is so great and they only have the best interests at heart of, and that is just not true. Unfortunately, there's a lot of places that just aggregate things for clicks and whatever, or they're very partisan in certain ways, and yeah, it's very hard. I used to run around trying to correct people. I tried to correct my own Wikipedia page, and then now I'm like, I gave up on all of that. I don't care.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, that's something I still frightens me a little bit is when people will stitch me or they'll make me the face of whatever argument they want. I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Keep me out of it. I never said any of this. I didn't sign up for that. This is your thing. I know that frightens me a little bit,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think, because everybody uses each other as characters online, and so it's like you're the main character. Then you just use all these other people around you as supporting characters and whatever you're trying to do on the internet,

    Michael Jamin:

    I think

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Really, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, that's what scared me about what you wrote in your book, but those people who just, they're whatever, they gossip about other tiktoks like, whoa, whoa, whoa. This just feels so wrong to me. Just do your own thing.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know.

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't try to cancel me. What are you doing?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I know my first job in media was at the Daily Mail, and it was such a great training ground for media because tabloid news is just so relentless, and just the way it operates is so different than the type of media that I work in now. And I think it is very similar to TikTok in the way that they just create these universes of characters and they just use people to kind of like, oh, so-and-so was spotted with so-and-so and so that means X, Y, Z, and it's just all these narratives that keep people interested, but I just

    Michael Jamin:

    Don't, I don't know how you are healthy, but honestly, this is kind of my biggest fear. Leave me out of your drama. I don't want to be, but you're fine. Screw it.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I don't care. I think I don't mind because at the end of the day, it affects me. I mean, it's affected my life a lot. I've gotten a lot of online hate, and it's really been crazy to deal with. But I will say they've done pretty much everything that could happen to me has happened to me, and it's a little bit freeing, like, okay, it wasn't that bad, so whatever.

    Michael Jamin:

    I followed some creators who were doxxed and people my age and they lost their jobs.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So this is what's terrifying, and I always say this, I was telling a friend who left the New York Times recently too. It's like I was never my parents, even when my family was getting harassed and all this horrible stuff was happening, my parents living in the middle of the country, they're like, whatever. They don't even have the internet, so they don't care. But what I was always scared of is like, oh my God, my employer is my employer going to understand. And so I had to have a lot of conversations with the Post when I joined. Everywhere I work, I'm like, okay, so I cover the craziest parts of the internet, and almost every story I write pisses someone off or a fandom off or whatever, or a political faction off. And so are you prepared to get thousands of letters or campaigns and people make nonstop YouTube videos? It's a lot of attention. And

    Michael Jamin:

    You're telling this to your employer, the human resources, or

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Before I ever accept a job, I'm like, okay, this is what comes with the beat.

    Michael Jamin:

    And do you think they understand this?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, I mean, it's a learning curve. The posts fucked up a little bit. They were responding directly to these really bad YouTubers right after I first started, and I was like, don't respond to the YouTuber. If you respond to the YouTubers, now they're making videos. Oh, look, we got to the Post. We've got to change the article. I'm like, no, just ignore. Just the more you think that

    Michael Jamin:

    Stuff. That's right.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    But a lot of people have jobs that don't understand, and suddenly they're flooded with calls or flooded with bad reviews, and so I get it. They don't, and so they just think, oh, okay, I'll just fire the person. And that's so horrifying.

    Michael Jamin:

    I made a post about this just a couple of days ago where I said, it allows these people on the fringe to be in the conversation, and if I'm tearing down now I'm part of Hollywood because I'm tearing it down. So you're building and I'm tearing down,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    And then you're the person. You're the famous person that got so-and-so canceled, and now you're getting all the, I know. It's really toxic.

    Michael Jamin:

    I feel in some way, okay, so I have this platform. This is a therapy session. You're going to help me. I have this platform where I have a voice where I can talk about things, but in some ways I don't. I, because I can't respond. In some ways it's, it's not even the right word. The word impotent, almost like I can't respond to them. They can hurl insults at me, but I have to shut up and take it.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It's so frustrating. And Michael, I empathize so much. I tell you, I used to run around. I used to respond to everything. I used to try to get articles corrected. I'd be like, that's not true. Here's all the, and nothing even that controversial thank, I don't do anything crazy, but it's just the internet and it's a losing game. And so you just have to accept that you don't control the narrative about yourself online. And this is something that big Hollywood people have, and I kind of write about this in my book, have always had to deal with, I mean, when you're really famous, you do lose that. You don't control the story of your life anymore really in the public eye. But now we all have to deal with it. Anybody with a following has to deal with that pretty much. And it's hard to go through.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's so interesting. Yeah, it's exactly right. I was going to say something then I lost my train of thought because you got me. No, no. I got so distracted by like, oh, I got lost in my own tunnel of insecurity.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    It's hard. It's so hard to deal with, and you want to be like, you got me all wrong.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's why I don't respond even too positive. I spun a little bit, but when someone says something nice, I feel like I don't want to blow 'em off. But I also feel like, am I going into this? I don't know if I respond to everyone or respond to no one, what's the right thing to do?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I mean, look, I make content out of some of my replies. I think it's great to engage people sometimes, especially sometimes when there's a lot of consistent hate around specific things. A lot of things that what people say to me is, I'm too old to be writing about technology, which is funny because I'm a woman in my thirties.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're too old. I don't, I'm too old to

    Taylor Lorenz:

    TikTok. And by the way, let's not talk about all the men in their sixties that are writing books about Elon Musk and whatever. It's so silly. I'm, myself and Joanna Stern are actually the youngest tech columnist in the entire industry, period. Women. So obviously it's ridiculous, but I responded. I made a TikTok a while ago. I've made a couple of tiktoks being like, okay, look at the misogyny of this comment and what women tech reporters and women in tech have to deal with, and this thinking of women. There's no right. We age to be a woman. And I pulled up some stuff because when I was in my twenties, people would be like, oh, she's silly. She's too young to cover this industry. It's serious. And so there's things like that that you can respond to and just sort of shine a light on. And sometimes I've seen you do a good job, Michael, when people say something mean, and then you give a very thoughtful answer actually to whatever they said,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, but that's not my first reaction. My first reaction is actually a lot funnier and a lot meaner.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Just you have to remember, it's a lot of children.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the thing. It's a lot of children or I'm sometimes thinking, well, or it could be someone with mental instability or whatever they've got going on. And so you can't even call 'em out for that because then someone can say, Hey, that person has whatever. And then you're like, then you're the villain. Yeah, then

    Taylor Lorenz:

    You're the villain. I know. I just think, oh, they're probably having the worst day ever. Or they're just a hateful person. And another thing I would say for everyone to understand early on the internet, and I think actually in any creative profession is just like, you are never going to be for everyone, and

    Michael Jamin:

    It's

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Totally fine. You are going to have people that hate your work, and that's totally fine. That doesn't mean anything about you. Just the way, I hate some stuff that's so popular. That's amazing. Beloved, by all. I'm like, oh, I don't like that that much. That's totally fine. And so sometimes people hate something, and I'm like, that's okay. It's not for you. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Not for you. I feel like you're maybe in your thirties, but I feel like you're exceptionally mature because Yeah, you're walking me through this. I've been

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Through the ringer a lot.

    Michael Jamin:

    Have you been though? I mean, yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I've been through some crazy stuff on the internet,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it dies off, you're saying?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    I think people have the memory of a goldfish, and it gets hard. Like I said, the hardest stuff was the political, especially when Tucker Carlson was on the era. He kept doing so many segments about me and stuff. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Really? I didn't know that.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. Oh my God, that was like a whole era. He was doing all these segments on me all the time, and his fans were so angry, and every day, all my social profiles were swarmed with his fans. And guess what? Now he lost his TV show, and I feel very vindicated because Wow.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    But I just never responded, ever.

    Michael Jamin:

    You never, that's so interesting. Yeah, there was this guy, oh my God, I'll say this on a wrap, but there's this on TikTok, there's this, he was a showrunner. He has a show or had a show, I dunno if it's still on popular, but every time I'd make a post, what's the word? He'd be a contrarian, give his contrarian opinion under my, this is twice, two times. And I just rolled my eyes. I didn't respond to him at all. I was like, whatever, dude, get your own. Stop trying to take my clout. He's

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Clout chasing you. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    He's clout chasing, right? So I just ignore him. And the third time he says, similar thing. And I just said, all right, I'm done with this guy. Just blocked him. I never had any engagement, just blocked this guy. And then I found out he's badmouthed me on his podcast. I'm like, dude, what? I don't even know you.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    He's out for you. There's so many people like that. It's so crazy. I mean people, but I think a lot of it is also jealousy. And I mean, I think you do a good job of this too, but I've had people get a little bit snippy to me, or they're like, oh, and is she a professional journalist on TikTok all day? And it's like, yeah, when I had my Snapchat show, people were also really mean about that. And they were like, oh, she does her silly Snapchat. And I'm on cnn, so I'm a real journalist. And she's on,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, really? The other journal are coming after you.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So mean, and I always was like, Hey, there's room for all of us and just guys, it's not that deep. I'm not competing with you. Also, you should come try Snapchat. It's actually pretty great. There might give you a show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was it men or women that were coming after you? A

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Lot of men, but I've had other women. I mean, it's weird. I think people get competitive and they feel there's so much FOMO on the internet and you see someone that's kind of adjacent in your career succeeding. And so I think it's everyone that I looked up to that could have been like that maybe to me, I'm sure I annoyed Katie to topless a million times when I was younger, like, oh my God. But I was more like fangirling. But everyone was so gracious to me, actually. And I always remembered that. And I feel like I try to do that, even if people are a little bit mean, if they're less successful or they're not there, they're just starting out. It's like sometimes they're just trying to put a stake in the ground and you just have to not take it personally.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh wow. Well, okay, okay. I mean, because I do feel that it's different. I mean, it is way different for women on the internet because a guy can come out and start hitting on you. It's not just meant to be creepy.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    People are crazy online men and women. But yeah, anytime you have an audience, people are going to come for you and yeah, it's funny when people trash talk you, I've had that too, where I think I muted someone because they kept replying to my post. They were just replying a lot. I was sick of getting the notifications. And that person also went on a podcast, was like, can Taylor Lorenzo ignores her fans? And I was like, you reply to, there's no way I could reply to everything.

    Michael Jamin:

    You, yeah. So people are not, yeah,

    Taylor Lorenz:

    But that's just reading into it.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's why. All right, well, I think this is a good segue. So, I mean, because a lot of this stuff in your book, I, let's plug it one more time, extremely online, the untold story of fame, influence and power on the internet by Taylor Lorenz. If you are interested in doing this, if you're interested in making your claim in social media, TikTok, Instagram, whatever, I think it's really helpful to understand a little bit of the history and to understand some of the pitfalls. You certainly outline them. I dunno. I think it's a very helpful book for people who I don't know, who are at all interested in playing this game, the pros and the cons. So right now, get her book. Yeah. And very well written, by the way. Good for you. Thank you. Oh my

    Taylor Lorenz:

    So much. There's no editing with books.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you mean? There's no editing?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They don't line edit books.

    Michael Jamin:

    What do you mean they don't? What do you mean? If someone's looking at it?

    Taylor Lorenz:

    No, they copy edit maybe to make sure you don't spell anything wrong, but they don't line edit it. They don't rewrite your sentences or,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Change the structure or anything like that.

    Michael Jamin:

    They do that in magazine art in your articles rather.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yes. My editor will rewrite things for me all the time. Like this could be stronger work on this lead book, I think because it's so much, it would probably take so long to go through those edits. But I love my editor as Simon and Schuster, but it was scary. I was like, can you read this again? I actually want more.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh really? Oh really? See, it was so fascinating. Well, I thought it was a great read. So thank you. Very easy to read. Taylor, thank you so much for having this chat with me. I'm a big fan of all your posts, so it was nice to finally meet you. And maybe we'll go to VidCon together and Yes, and boo people, let 'em have it.

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Respond to the haters.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, well become haters. That's what we'll do. Oh

    Taylor Lorenz:

    Yeah. We'll be the trolls on.

    Michael Jamin:

    Maybe there might be something to it. It might be fun. But alright, well thank you so much. And don't go anywhere. Don't grow. Thank you. As I wrap it up. All right everyone, another great talk. Go follower Taylor. By the way, let's get your social media profiles on Instagram and TikTok. What are

    Taylor Lorenz:

    They again? I'm just at Taylor Lorenz on every single social platform, so that

    Michael Jamin:

    Makes sense. You're the only one. You're the only one. Alright, go follower. It's great stuff. Alright everyone, thank you so much. Another interesting talk. We got more people lined up, so keep following me. Until then, keep creating.

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

    1h 13m | Dec 13, 2023
  • Bonus Episode - October 7th Webinar Q & A

    On October 7th, I hosted a webinar called "How Professional Screenwriters Create Great Characters", where I talked about how to come up with interesting and unique characters, as well as how tapping into your everyday life interactions with people can help with this. This episode addresses questions you asked in our Q&A session that we didn't have time to answer. There's lots of great info here, make sure you watch.


    Show Notes

    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 Newsletterhttps://michaeljamin.com/newsletter


    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin:

    I feel like we're overthinking this a little bit. I feel like maybe we're giving labels that don't need to be labeled. We have a hero. We're going to put this hero on a journey. And who are the people? Or if it's a like a buddy comedy or whatever we're talking about, or if it's a husband and wife or whatever, what's the story? What's the journey we're putting them on and who are the characters we're going to get in their way? You're listening to What the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity, I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin, and today we're going to answer the question, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? Well, today I'm talking about questions from my previous webinar. As many of you know, I do a webinar every three weeks or so where I talk about screenwriting and it's about an hour long and you're all invited and it's free. And I don't always have time to answer all these questions, but Phil is here with us visiting again. Hello, Phil. Hello and happy to be here. He's going to hit me with some of these questions we're going to answer.

    Phil Hudson:

    Lemme hit you baby one more time. Let's do it. All right. So again, kind of group questions, context for everyone. This was from a webinar talking about how professional screenwriters create great characters. You've got another really good webinar that a lot of people really like, which is how to write a great story. And so contextually, these are really more character based. There's some miscellaneous stuff, there's some break in questions. We've kind of grouped them together. So as I go through these, we'll just try to keep 'em on theme and let's get into it. Let's talk craft. Think Craft is always a good place to start. Anna Renee Chavez wants to know what big differences are there between writing for animation versus live action?

    Michael Jamin:

    Great question. Oh, and I just want to clarify everybody by webinars, you are free. Go to michaeljamin.com/webinar to sign up. I changed the topics, but whatever. So this woman wants to know what's the difference between writing for animation and live action? Not that much in terms of, and I teach 'em both in my course. The differences really are not that different. The only thing you want to think about is well ask yourself why is this show animated? What's the advantages to making this show animated? So in BoJack Horseman, it's a very real and grounded show, but you have horses talking and fish talking, or Whitney, you couldn't do that in live action. So you're taking advantage of the medium. If you have it animated, take advantage of it. When my partner and I did Glen Martin DDS, which is the show there a stop motion animation, we would ask ourselves, what's Clay tastic about this? We'd call it, because it wasn't claymation, but we pretended it was claymation. So what's Clay tastic about this scene? Is someone's head going to come off? So for example, we did an episode where the character, the boy got his head stuck in an elephant's ass. You can't do that in live action. So you can do that in animation, but the story itself, it's very similar. The stories are very similar. It's just that you just take advantage of the medium.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, awesome. And I think another good example of this, where a choice was made to do live action RET link's buddy system, you had mentioned to me that one point that it's basically just a cartoon. It's like a live action cartoon with silly It is, but they can't be as silly as they could if it was animated and they could do whatever they wanted. So it still kind of grounds it in this reality, but it's still a bit silly.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it could have been a cartoon, but we would've gone even we did one episode where we turned Lincoln into a robot because the character was like, my life would be easier if I was a robot. So that probably would've been even better if it was animated. But in real life we just started putting 'em in crappy robot costumes.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    But it was funny. We turned him into a robot, so it was kind of broad.

    Phil Hudson:

    Love it. Julia Wells considering extraordinary and ordinary pairing. What would you say about friends, how I Met Your Mother, or shows that are more grounded? I think this is in reference in your webinar when you're talking about your characters and putting your characters together or how you write your characters for a specific story, and there's a difference between extraordinary and ordinary if you want something extraordinary when you're pairing your characters together.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yeah, most shows are like that. Most sitcoms, the characters are just normal people. And yeah, it was kind of like ordinary characters, kind of an extraordinary situations where it would've been unusual. I'm trying to think of an example from friends, but alright, so they did an episode where Joey and Joey and what's his name, not Kramer Chandler, the guy Chandler are going to sit in their chairs all episode, all ordinary guys doing something extraordinary. They're not going to move from their chairs and they're going to see if they get everything delivered and they're going to eat and drink and they're not going to get up, stuff like that. So I don't think it's any different from any other sitcom I've worked on other than the characters.

    Phil Hudson:

    I just started re-watching How I Met Your Mother, which I've seen who knows how many times. But it's a good background show while I'm working on stuff that's not necessarily logical, analytical stuff. And there's an episode where it's the Halloween party and he's the hanging Chad because he met the sexy pumpkin in 2001 during the election or 1999 or whatever. And so Barney's got tickets to the Victoria's Secret model, Christmas Halloween costume party, and he's trying to get his friend to this extraordinary thing and his friend won't leave. He wants to be at this party to potentially meet this girl on this rooftop again. And it's the push and pull of Come be amazing, stop looking for love, you're losing. So it plays really well in that situation. Alright, cool. AIA Saunders or AIA Sanders, I apologize for ruining that. How do you feel about basing a character on them knowing themselves or basing a character on yourself and your own doubts?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, do it all. I mean, you should do it. You should totally mind your own life For stories, and I have a whole module on this in the course, and you can disguise it too, so people don't have to know it's you, but you're just stealing parts of yourself or parts of people as other characters, but you change it enough and change the name, but also change professions and change. You're just stealing attributes from people so they wouldn't know it. But that's what your life is for your life is to steal things from

    Phil Hudson:

    Perfect. Charles Shin, do you have any tips or advice with coming up with great names for your characters?

    Michael Jamin:

    I spoke a little bit about this in the old days. We used to have a baby naming book, my partner and I, and then now it's kind of easy to go on the internet or just in life. You'll come across a street name and you go, oh, that's a good last name for a character. I just kind of keep a list. What was one? I had one the other day I added to my list, I can't remember, but it was like a street sign I go that I passed. I go, that's a good character's name.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I've also seen our showrunners on Tacoma fd. There's a random character as Chief Phil Dylan. Well, I'm Phil. It was the writer's pa and I replaced Dylan, the writer's pa.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, it's funny. I know they took that for you. I mean, they tend to do that a lot where at least Steve Lemi does. He'll just name characters after people he knows.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. There's one line from Ike in an episode that I think you guys wrote. It's like Benjamin Duff or Benjamin Crump

    Michael Jamin:

    And

    Phil Hudson:

    Ben Crump was our DIT set. Right. So just throw people's names and give 'em fun stuff. Awesome. You also talked, I think you talked about funny names that go together too. At one point that was something you do.

    Michael Jamin:

    I talked about, I had a character named, what was his name? Something

    Phil Hudson:

    The third? It was something the fourth. The fourth, yeah. What was his

    Michael Jamin:

    Name? God, I can't remember.

    Phil Hudson:

    It was like, but it was a bunch of things together that rhymed almost or had similar names.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'd have to look it up. I can't. Oh, Dan Danforth iv. That's what it was. Dan Dan. I had a character named Dan Danforth iv, and I just thought that was a good name because Dan Danforth is weird enough. But why did his parents have to saddle in with the fourth? Because, well, they felt like they had to because the father's the third is a generational thing. They can't, so they stuck this guy with his shitty name and what's that going to, having a name like that, you're going to be teased as a child. And I thought the character is kind of a feckless type and he became a sheriff of a small town as a way of demanding respect because he'd been teased all his life to be named Dan Danforth iv. And so now he has a badge, but people still think he's a dipshit. And so I just thought it was kind of a good name for a character like that, who's kind of feckless.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright, jumping into the course and character related topics, these are a bit intermingled because a lot of what you talked about, and we even brought this up with Mike Repp and Kevin Lewandowski about how valuable that course, that character worksheet is. But because this webinar is about character, there are a lot of questions about character. So number one, pat Nava. How do you make characters that the audience wants to know more about?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's not so much the characters, it's just the story you give them. So that's not so much the character. That's the story.

    Phil Hudson:

    There we go. Cookies and sugar. How do we make characters diverse and not self project

    Michael Jamin:

    Diverse and not self project? They seem very different questions to

    Phil Hudson:

    Me. So this is, I think a really good question and from context for this, this person is a minor and they want to be a writer and they've been told by their well meaning adults in their life and mentors not to do that because it's a waste of time because you'll never make it as a writer. And that was a question she'd asked another point. So this question really speaks to me of something I heard really early on when I was studying, which is you are not your characters. Don't write yourself into your characters, which is kind of contradictory to the advice you give, which is writing your life for stories.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why not? I dunno why they would give you that advice. Why not? Yeah, it might've been because people were just writing self-indulgent material that could have been,

    Phil Hudson:

    I know on writing by Stephen King, he says that you are not your characters and it is a mistake to think that your characters will behave the way you would. So if you find your character doing something you wouldn't do, it is your job to allow them to do that. And I find that a lot with my writing. There are many things I write where I would never do as someone from a more conservative background who is religiously inclined, like my characters say and do things all the time. I'm like, oh, where did that come from? Not who I am, but that's what it felt like needed to happen as that character was coming through me. And I feel it's my responsibility to just let that happen. But the difference is to me is don't make your characters do and make the actions you would do. And if you're a more passive person, that's not a good thing for your character to be because your character needs to make choices. And that's the conflict of it all.

    Michael Jamin:

    But Larry David on Kirby Enthusiasm, he's playing himself, but Larry David is not that person in real life. These are just, it's a heightened version of himself. Larry David knows when to hold his tongue. His character doesn't, his character can't let it go. Larry David just playing. It's a heightened version of himself. It's the worst version of himself, which is why it's so funny he wouldn't do that in real life. I mean, Larry, he wouldn't do that,

    Phil Hudson:

    Right? But if you look at yourself, or even friends you have or people that you know and you say, I've got this buddy who is super quiet, but then when he talks it is just cuts with a thousand lashes because he is so sharp, it'll just take the wind out of your sails in a second. So if you have someone and you take that element and you say, I wonder how I can make that funnier. How could I take this tick that I have or that my wife has and just make it, turn it up to 11. That's where the comedy comes from and that's where the conflict comes from. So that's what you're saying by mind your life for stories and put your characters in situations you've been in, but don't do what you did necessarily.

    Michael Jamin:

    You could turn it up. Yeah, turn it up a notch. That's it. It makes it fun and interesting.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Cool. Matthew? I think he likes lasagna. Many people begin with an idea for a character. I've always been led by the concept and the plot, then I tailored the characters to fit within it. What are your thoughts on that method?

    Michael Jamin:

    Sure. I mean that works fine. I mean, if you can create someone who still feels real, like I said, even though Larry David is a heightened version of himself, it still feels real. It feels like he almost, it's not crazy. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that he would do that. So as your characters don't, as long as it doesn't feel like you're contorting the character to do something that your story requires, which would not be human behavior, at the end of the day, these characters have to be human

    Phil Hudson:

    Like jumping the shark

    Michael Jamin:

    Or jumping the shark. But also often my partner and I will write a scene and Seaver will say something like a character that's not human behavior. We're just making the character do this because two writers in Hollywood need him to say that, which is, I mean, sometimes we'll laugh, we'll say, why would a character say that? And then I'll say that we have four cameras on him and we have to shoot something tonight. But that's not the right answer. The right answer is it has to be human behavior.

    Phil Hudson:

    So tangentially related would be DSX, Mina, right? Which is circumstance or coincidence, getting your character out of trouble or solving your problem. So it's not the same, but very similar as it's a

    Michael Jamin:

    Lazy writing dem and I believe is Latin for God,

    Phil Hudson:

    God in the machine,

    Michael Jamin:

    A God or God can get you into trouble or a coincidence can get you into trouble but can't get you out of trouble. So if God comes to the rescue and saves the day, that's considered bad writing. So an example for this that people like to harp on is somehow Palpatine returned. Isn't that his name? Palpatine?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, Palpatine.

    Michael Jamin:

    Palpatine. I didn't even watch it. I didn't watch it, so I'm not going to badmouth that movie, but that's what people say somehow God came in and everyone seems to roll their eyes at it. And again, I haven't seen it so I really shouldn't say, but that's what I've heard. That would be an example of maybe something that people don't, they went too far.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, yeah. How do you introduce characters? I normally have their name, age in a short sentence, which sums up their personality. I then allow them to show their character through their actions.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, those are stage direction and no one wants reading stage direct wants to read stage direction. So I usually say what the character's name is exactly a few, maybe a physical attribute or two their age and something about their personality that gets it real fast. Here's a bad description. You see this a lot, Lucy, cute, but doesn't know a girl next door. Cute, but doesn't realize it or sexy, but doesn't know it. How many times have I got to see that and you just roll your eyes. So it's got to be better than that.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's cliche.

    Phil Hudson:

    Do you ever put anything related? I've heard other writers recommend putting in cues for clothing to help wardrobe understand how this person dresses or informed character. Is that something you ever consider?

    Michael Jamin:

    Only if it's absolutely necessary. If the character wears loose fitting clothing to hide their body, that makes sense. But unless it's absolutely necessary, we can have these discussions at the production meeting. We don't need to know it now in the script unless it absolutely necessary.

    Phil Hudson:

    Great. Tom Merrim, when you write characters, do you focus more on the personalities you want added to the mix or focus more on the role each plays or what they need to do in the story?

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's what I teach in the course. Every character has to be there for a reason and they have to help elucidate the story or else it's just, you don't want to just mash these. Even if you have 10 great characters, like oh, they're all interesting, but maybe they don't fit together. They have to fit together to tell a story. The story is the look. We all work for the story, the writers, the directors, the actors, we all serve the story and that includes the characters. The story comes first. That's why it's so important to learn what story is.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Great. Justin Kaiser, to develop your characters, do you focus on relationships more than the characters themselves?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, more, I mean, I always think what's the relationship between this character and the other character? I mean, you may need to know that if you have a father and a son and you want to know how they interact and maybe the kid's under the father's thumb and at the end of the show or movie, he's going to stand on his own two feet and defy his father. That's important that you might need to know that. But I don't need, if that's what the story is about, then yeah, I need to know the relationship, but I don't need to have all the answers, just the ones that are pertinent for the story.

    Phil Hudson:

    And when you get into the course, you'll learn that there's this awesome sheet that you have that you were provided that was given to you. Was it Steve Levitan gave it to you. And it's basically defining all of these nuances of your character so that you can build them out to be someone unique. And you clearly see a pattern. And this kind of relates back, I think to cookies and sugars question. I'm assuming this is universal, not just to me thing, but definitely a Phil Hudson thing. When I create my characters and I start using that spreadsheet, I start noticing like, oh, they're all very similar. We got to mix that up, so let's fix this, let's fix this. And so those are like, I have specific things I go to or lean towards and it's like I need to fix that. And that allows me to create conflict creates differences in the way people see things. It also empowers me when I'm writing these characters to know how they would talk about this specific thing or react in this situation in a way that empowers the story to be better and serve their role that they've been given.

    Michael Jamin:

    Here's an extreme example of that. Let's say you're writing Oceans 11 and you have, I dunno, I guess, or have loving characters or whatever. You got the brainiac, you got the suave guy, you got the bomb cutter, who's a loose cannon, you got the thug, you got the nerd or whatever. Every character in that group has their own distinct, not only personality, but almost archetype of personality. There shouldn't be overlap. And then that's an extreme example, but even if you're writing something more grounded and real or intimate, rather, you'll ask, you'll have the same conversations with yourself. So why do I have two heart throb characters? I only need one. You want to have different viewpoints. In the episode, we talked a little bit about love. Actually in the last podcast we talked about, we did a q and a and I mentioned love actually is about looking at love on Christmas time from whatever, 15, how many storylines, whatever, eight storylines. And each character has a very specific kind of role. And there's no, and there shouldn't be. If there is, we don't need two characters for that same point of view. This is a work of art. You don't need two, just one.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And going back to how I met your mother, there's really three kind of four different characters there in this group. There's a couple, Marshall and Lily, there's Ted, our protagonist, and there's Barney, and then there's Robin. And they all reflect this different opinion about relationships and dating in New York City. You've got the couple that have been together since college and they're together and they just love each other all the time. The ones seeking true love, the player who just wants to hook up with as many women as he can. Ironically played by Neil Patrick Harris, who's gay, and he does a great job of playing that person. And then you have Robin who is afraid of love and kind of withdraws from love and that creates that ecosystem where they're all playing off of each

    Michael Jamin:

    Other. They all have different viewpoints. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    I'll also say I'm working on this feature that I haven't written a feature in a long time and I got the story that I really like and it centers around a family situation. And I'm thinking about my family and my brothers and my relationship with my siblings. And it's like we were all raised the same. We are all very different people. We have fights because there are things we absolutely disagree on, but then there's always this layer of relationship. And we had understanding that even when we get really mad at each other to a certain degree, we know we're always going to come back together. Except there's always that thing dangling out there that maybe we won't. And I have one sibling who's like that. I don't know that I could have a same conversation with her that I could with my older brother the same way I would. She may never want to talk to me again because he's just a bit more sensitive. So it's like, okay, how do I look at all of these relationships here? And just because we all come from the same place and we had almost the same experiences. We are all very different.

    So Cameron Barnes, he said, Michael said, a cast of characters should be in constant conflict, but does that actually just mean constant conflict throughout the story?

    Michael Jamin:

    What else would it mean? I mean,

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I dunno.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I mean, yeah, conflict

    Phil Hudson:

    Doesn't, lemme talk about the constant conflict. Maybe just address that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, conflict doesn't have to be people fighting. It could be passive aggressive. It could be people caring very much for each other, the mother, and you've seen this trope before, the mother, the overbearing mother, trying to get the daughter to be happy and settle down and find a man, whatever. She's just in her life that's conflict. A mother who's constantly meddling and she means well and the daughter knows she means well, but she keeps stepping on her toes. You've seen that story a million times. We've seen it because it works. So that's conflict. But if it was, what about a show where everyone was always getting along? Well, that's boring, unfortunately that's just boring. That's the scene right? Before everything goes south, that's what that is. You have one scene like that and then it goes

    Phil Hudson:

    South. And it's not that it's all okay that people are just kind of egg shelling, walking on eggshells around each other to maintain the peace in this moment, right? Yeah, because it's going to go nuts at any moment. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Drama is conflict, guys. So that's it. Drama is conflict,

    Phil Hudson:

    But that's also just life. And I think that's why we watch it. Life is not perfect harmony at all times with everybody. There's things,

    Michael Jamin:

    But even if you had a scene where young couple's in love and everything's great. Okay, great. What's one scene they met boy meets girl, they fall in love. Great. How many,

    Phil Hudson:

    Why do you leave the towels on the floor? He leaves the

    Michael Jamin:

    Towel. Yeah, something's going to have to happen where

    Phil Hudson:

    When you take your toothbrush out of your mouth, it flicks toothpaste on the mirror and you never clean it. Right? That's the stuff that eats at couples.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So you need stuff like that. Everyone loves Raymond. They were a happy couple, they had a happy marriage, but you still have to fight Rose, what are we watching?

    Phil Hudson:

    But that's also fighting in a relationship is what makes your relationship better. If you can get through those things. And fighting doesn't mean screaming and yelling and throwing stuff at each other. It could just be disagreements or heated conversations is like you got to get through the conflict, come to a resolution,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Phil Hudson:

    This thing bothers me. This thing bothers you. How are we going to fix this? We live together and we're going to be together forever. So let's figure this out. It's going to bother me every day forever.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Matthew Lavania back. What's the difference between a villain and an antagonist?

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. I mean a villain I guess is an arch formative, a villain sounds like it's something that's a heightened antagonist. That's what it sounds like. An antagonist doesn't have to be a villain. It could just, if you have, like I said, a daughter and a mother and the mother's overbearing, then the mother's an antagonist. Doesn't mean she's a villain. The stepmother's the villain in Cinderella. So it's just a heightened antagonist I suppose. But we're splitting hair. I don't think we have to worry about that really. I mean it's like an academic question. I could think

    Phil Hudson:

    You might say Thanos in the Marvel universe is the villain because he's got this big existential threat. But I think one of the things you highlight definitely in my writing is your antagonist still needs to be likable. Not likable in the sense, but we need to understand that they think they're the hero. And in this case, Thanos wants to prevent genocide because his world went through this. And so his way of doing, it's by killing half the people in existence to prevent this thing from happening.

    Michael Jamin:

    Think about land from Quentin Tarantino's,

    Phil Hudson:

    Glorious

    Michael Jamin:

    Bastards and glorious bastards. What a great villain. I mean, he was a great villain. He was the Jew hunter, the Nazi man that was a badass guy. But he was complex and there was something so about him, even though what he was doing was so incredibly vile and offensive. And so that's when you humanize your villain, you make it. It makes your writing so much richer. I mean the fact that he spoke so many languages and he was educated. He's

    Phil Hudson:

    Charismatic. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    He was charismatic and yet still

    Phil Hudson:

    And very polite. Thank you so much for inviting. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Very

    Phil Hudson:

    Inviting, inviting. May I ask you for some milk?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    The Jews are underneath me right now, aren't they? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    And you just didn't know where you stood with the guy. So he was just a very nice guy doing awful, awful things. So that's great writing

    Phil Hudson:

    That scene when he's sitting down with Ana, I'd like to go over the theater and he's vetting her and he's putting cream down for her and he's like, he knows who she is. It is unspoken subtext. He is aware that this is the girl that got away. You see it in her reaction when she leaves and she's hyperventilating and she just kept it together

    Michael Jamin:

    And he was like a mercenary.

    Phil Hudson:

    Then you find out later that that's all part of his plan. This is how he's going to get out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Great writing. That's all that is. That's all that movie is great writing,

    Phil Hudson:

    Which is followed up by

    Michael Jamin:

    Great acting

    Phil Hudson:

    And great production and great editing and great everything. That's

    Michael Jamin:

    All that was though.

    Phil Hudson:

    Alright. Luke felt. How do you ensure that the story around the character matches the lesson that they need to learn?

    Michael Jamin:

    Can you say that again? How do I ensure?

    Phil Hudson:

    So this is a presupposition that your character needs to learn something by the end of your script. So how do you ensure that the story around that character gets them to the point that they learn something?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, okay, I don't believe characters have to learn anything. I do think they have to grow or else why did you put 'em on a journey? If not to them it has to be you're changed in some way. If you take a character and you take 'em to the top of Mount Everest, they have to be changed in some way or else why did you take 'em there? So it doesn't mean they have to learn a lesson, they could be worse off. But if your why stories is a journey and why go on the journey if we're not going to get a view and the view better be something interesting, why did you take me on this long trip? And if the character didn't in some way change or grow, it doesn't mean learn a lesson, just change in some small way. Why didn't we take 'em on that trip? Why did we go there? Why did you waste our time? And by the way, there are bad movies where this doesn't happen and I always feel like, well, why did you just waste my time? And so just because there's bad writing out there doesn't mean we have to participate in it. It doesn't mean we have to add to it.

    Phil Hudson:

    I think there's an inclination, and I've seen this in myself and many other writers in film school and definitely here in Los Angeles, that you want to buck the trend and buck the system and you don't want to follow story structure and you want to do your own thing. It's almost like you want to reinvent the world of writing and you also want to play into tragedy and disappoint, defeat audience expectations and all these things. And that's artful writing. And I think what I've learned from you in the course and being in the writer's room is that those things serve a purpose and you can still do those things, but you do it in a surprising way and it works because there's a structure to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I mean, everyone wants to reinvent writing, reinvent the story. Look, the story works. It's been working for thousands of years. You can make a good living writing compelling story. And when I watch a story that's compelling and that works, I don't think, wow, they just reinvented the story. I don't think that, I just think they told a really good story. I feel like they're doing what I'm doing, but maybe better or on a higher level. I don't think they just completely change with some small exceptions sometimes. I'll watch, for example, inception, Christopher Nolan, I, I've watched it four times. I still don't know what it's about. I still can't follow it. It's obviously a great movie, but I don't think we have to all write like that in order to tell a great story.

    Phil Hudson:

    And I think he just announced what is happening. He just revealed that during the Oppenheimer interviews. You can go look that up on the Google if anybody's in. But yeah, I mean that's his style and it's very much his cscope, I think is what it is. Or Cscope, his logo is a maze. It's elaborate. He's kind of telling you this is his way of telling

    Michael Jamin:

    Stories. That's how he does it and that's how he thinks.

    Phil Hudson:

    It started with Memento and it started with even other stuff he directed but didn't write, which I'm blanking on it, but it's like one in Alaska and it's psychological thriller. But yeah, all of his stuff is that, and that's his motif and his style.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'd go so far as to say that the guy's kind of a genius. And so unless you think you're a genius too, maybe don't try to reinvent. I don't think I'm a genius. But that said, I couldn't write anything like Memento. It hurts my head to think about it. And I enjoyed a memento and Inception really loved it. I couldn't come close to it. I write, what I do is I write comedy and I'm very good at that. My one little thing, and that's okay. We all have our one little thing that we're good at and you have to just lean into it. Christopher Nolan doesn't write comedy, which is good. He has a sing that he does and we love what he does. We don't all have to be experts at everything.

    Phil Hudson:

    Right? Yeah. Justin Kaiser, how do you decide that another character is needed to advance the story or if that attribute moral personality can be added to another existing character?

    Michael Jamin:

    I

    Phil Hudson:

    Guess kind of the question is how do you know when you have enough characters in your story?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it's a little different. If you're writing a TV show, if a TV show you need to write, you have to have a cast and it has to be conflict. You want to have, let's say five or six characters that always are going to always be in conflict with each other week in and week out as you tell different stories. If you're writing a movie, you really want to think about who's the star of this movie, or if it's a two hander, who are the stars, if it's a buddy cop movie or whatever, you have two cops or it's a buddy movie or a road trip movie. You have these two characters and you only have the other characters as needed to help tell the story, the journey you're putting those two characters on. So if you take a good example, because we're mentioning Buddy comedies, midnight Run, so Charles Groden and Robert De Niro. It's a buddy comedy you're putting and a road trip, comedy, whatever, not so much a comedy but drama and you're putting them on an adventure, so you just need obstacles to throw in their ways. So you have Dennis Farinas character who's the mobster, but we're not following Dennis Farinas story. We're following Robert De Niro's relationship with Charles. That's it. Everyone else is there to help. Tell Robert De Niro's story and Charles Groton's story.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, easy Rider, very similar, right? You've got these two bikers and you've got their lawyer Jack, Jack nickles, and then it, it's about them. And that's experience of going across America right in the seventies. It's not about the hippies they meet at the Waterhole in Santa Fe. It's about those and what happens to them as they go through America, Julia Wells, and how do you prevent the worst characters from being so far outside their wheelhouse that they can't possibly succeed or it becomes unbelievable. And this is in reference to this kind of golden nugget you've been talking about recently in your Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Everyone please come to my webinars about this one's about character. She's talking about character, but I do another one on story and they're free. You go to michael tamer.com

    Phil Hudson:

    And you're going to get a lot of these questions for people. A lot of this is coming out of, it's in context in the webinar. So you're hearing this lesson and these very important principles for writers, and these are questions coming out of that. And this is one of those questions referring to a tip you give in the webinar about how to write characters that a professional writer would use.

    Michael Jamin:

    So she wants to know how do you make sure that your character is not so off the map that people don't like it or something?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, because the point you're making here is you don't want a perfect character. You want the worst character for a situation. Yeah. So how do you not make the situation so bad that per character can't navigate it?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, I think what you do is you have your character and get better, so improve on it. So like I talked about, one of the examples I gave in the webinar was Aria Stark from Game of Thrones, and we gave her one of the hardest storylines, which was she was a little girl, her family was murdered, and now she decides she's going to avenge the death of her family. And I talk more about this in the webinar, so I'm not going to go too much detail, but Aria Stark is the worst character to give this journey to avenge the death. She's like an 8-year-old and she's tiny. And so we give her skills. So we slowly take her down this path where she learns skills and becomes a great fighter. Little by little, she learns from this, the dance.

    Phil Hudson:

    You learn those attributes, but it's there, the seeds are there. She's interested in sword play. She's a bit of a tomboy. She wants to know these things that her sisters the opposite, wants to be the queen, wants to marry the king, that whole

    Michael Jamin:

    Thing. So we put her, she's the worst person to put on this journey, but we slowly give her the skills on these little storylines that we give her to become the one who kills the night King. No one can kill this guy. He's made of ice and somehow she, but had we not put her on this journey, she would've been the first one to die. Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my content and I know you do because you're listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people like you can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not going to spam you, and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michaeljamin.com. And now back to what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, it's all great. It's such a good show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Darlene Smith, can you ever overc create a character?

    Michael Jamin:

    I dunno what that means. Overc

    Phil Hudson:

    Create overriding is a thing. I don't think this is, can you think too much about your character? And I know a lot of people spend times writing full biographies about their

    Michael Jamin:

    Characters

    Phil Hudson:

    And all that kind of stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. As you write, you learn more about the character. It's so weird when people say, I wrote, they say, I have the pilot, the Bible, and the first three seasons of my show mapped out really? In other words, you're saying you're not willing to discover any of this as you go because they just haven't mapped out on a piece of paper. It's like in a real writer's room. We got a team of writers working on this, and over the course of eight seasons, we were learning more and more about the characters as we go. It's not Breaking Bad wasn't fleshed out in the pitch. Jesse Pinkman wasn't even going to be a main character in it. You learn about your characters as you're writing. You see what works and what doesn't work. I think there's a temptation to spend all this time overthinking your characters without even putting a word on the page.

    Phil Hudson:

    Look, it looks like writing and I think that might be, this is procrastination.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes,

    Phil Hudson:

    It's world creating. I think I told you maybe eight months ago, nine months ago, there was a kid who was in film school, he messaged me and he's like, Hey, I'm really interested in this and writing, and I just love creating worlds. I love world building. I love doing all this stuff. And that's my favorite part of this. And it's like, cool. None of that matters if you don't have a character we want to watch because that is all that matters is what is this character? What is the journey they're going on? It's procrastination. It feels like it. And look, this might be a bit of a gross word to use to describe this, but it is masturbation. It is just you are doing this for self-indulgent reasons to make you feel like you're writing and it's literally not moving the chain, which is pages, words on the page, words on the page, words on the

    Michael Jamin:

    Page. My partner and I, we've gotten called out on this more than once, where the executives will look at an outline or a beat sheet and they go, I don't understand this character. And we're like, well, we don't really understand the character yet either. We plan on finding it as we write, but they get mad. We need to know now. All right, well, we are just kind of pulling the wool of your eyes. We'll figure it out. We're going to find it when we write it. I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what to tell you. We thought about it. We're not there yet. We have to discover it as we write. Sorry, but this is how it goes.

    Phil Hudson:

    I want to highlight here, Michael, too, that this is for a lot of people who might hear what you say about story structure matters and there's a structure that you need to stick to and you talk very in your free lesson, michaeljamin.com/free. There's a whole bunch of free resources on that page. One of those is this free lesson about story, and you talk in there about Picasso. And Picasso was a master at 14, and then he learned and created his own version of art that's worth millions and hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, by the time he was 80, so he had like 65 years if I'm asked of figuring out how to make his own thing and reinventing this. But it's grounded in the rules of art and painting, and you talk about structure and how it matters, but in the same breath you're saying like find it as you go. Find it as you go. And there's a balance there. And I think very often, definitely myself, very black and white, and there's a lot of this, you need to understand the principles so that you can break the rules, but you also need to understand when to focus your time and when to shift. And that I would venture to say just comes with time. You got to get in and do it

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot and over and over and over again and you'll learn. And then that's how a lot of times we will have the perfect character, all the perfect characters, and we'll start writing and we go, none of this is working. So what we thought was perfect is not working. How do I know it's not working? Because the words are not coming out on the page. It's just not working.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Don't be so damn precious about your story and your characters and your idea. Just get it out and move on. It's reps. You got to get your reps in. All right, cookies and sugar. How do you keep a romance novel? Interesting. How do you create conflict between the two characters while still having them come together in the end to date? How do you write villains in? And part of me is, I think we just answered this with the toothpaste and all that stuff we're talking about. You can get there, but Hitch comes to mind for me, right? It's the right characters. Remember? Yeah. Will Smith is the dating expert, and he helps guys who kind of suck at dating, get girls that they like. And Eon Goya's character is like a gossip writer, and she finds out about this guy and she's going to go find him and hunt him down. But at the same time, she falls in love with Hitch the Guy. And then it kind of comes out later that she feels like he played her and it's because her friend got some douche bag who he wouldn't help made some reference. And so it all kind of boils over at the end. And it's about helping a guy fall in love who's in love with this airs getting her to fall in love with him. He's a klutz and he can't do it himself. And all the things she fell in love with were him. His mistakes, not the stuff Hitch taught him how to do, right? It's all the sincere him stuff. But that is a great example of this is a romcom, this is a romance story. This is

    Michael Jamin:

    Go watch when Harry Met Sally, which is the best romcom ever. And so when you keep your, it is boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl. That's the middle, right? Then boy gets girl in the end again. Or not. Or not, but getting together at the end, you need to get your characters, they usually get together earlier and then something goes south. And that would be probably be your second act break when they break up for whatever reason. So go watch Harry. I met Sally. That's a brilliant, brilliant romcom.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. EG wants to know how do you overcome difficulties with writing dialogue? Acts broken down, but having a hard time with dialogue?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, yeah. I mean, there's a couple of things going on. One, you can record your dialogue into a tape recorder or whatever, digital recorder and play it back. And it should sound natural. It should sound the way people talk. You can go to a coffee shop and listen to people how they talk to me. That's the fun part. If you're having problem writing it, it could easily be because you don't know what your characters should say. And if you don't know what your characters are saying, you don't have a dialogue problem. You have a story structure problem if you don't know what your characters should say. So I suspect that's what's going on. I suspect this person doesn't have a dialogue problem. They have a story structured problem.

    Phil Hudson:

    That was my thought too, because it's pretty easy to know what you need to get. You shouldn't have a scene where people are just showing up to talk that does nothing for us. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's that critique I have. And I've noticed even in my own writing early on, which is there's a lot of people doing things and nothing's happening.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    That's a bad note to get by the way, guys, you don't want that. Doc B, is there a method by which to place arc points, the character will learn something or experience that helps them grow? Or do you let the story find the right moment for a character evolution?

    Michael Jamin:

    Can you repeat it?

    Phil Hudson:

    It kind of was tough to get through. So is there a process or method that you use to put in plot points or story points that require your character to grow or evolve?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, again, we're talking story structure. That's what they need to, that's what I teach in the course. There is a process. Yeah. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    I recently, go ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    Characters don't have to grow. They have to change, but they don't have to learn a lesson, but go on.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And again, that's that advice. It just hangs out. There is your character needs to learn something, your character needs to learn something. And just kind of hanging myself out here. Again, the first question you asked me when you're giving me screenwriting advice is you asked me the question, what is the definition of a story? Hint. Hint. That's go get the free lesson on michaeljamin.com/free because it's the same question and you teach this principle, and I said, it's a hero who goes through trials and ends up better in the end. And your response was, what about King Lear?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Here's another example that go watch a movie called Manchester by the Sea with Casey Affleck. And in it he plays a guy who's responsible for the death. There's an accident. He's responsible for the death of his wife and his child, and he's living with his horrible guilt. He

    Phil Hudson:

    Won an Oscar for that, right? That's the one got the Oscar for,

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't know. But it was a great performance. And so he feels responsible for the death of his family, and I think he may have been an alcoholic or not, I don't remember. And then he forges a relationship with his nephew, and you think maybe this relationship's going to save him. And you get to the end and you think we've taken Casey Affleck's character on this journey where maybe he's not going to be depressed anymore. Maybe he's going to allow himself to change and grow and he can't. And so that character goes on a whole journey, but really doesn't change and is a beautiful, beautiful movie. But again, the emotional journey is there. But he decides at the end, I can't grow. I can't Change

    Phil Hudson:

    Without A Trace is another great film with Ben Foster and he's living in, he's a vet with PTSD and he's living kind in the wilderness outside of Portland with his daughter. And then Child Protective Services kind of gets involved and he kind goes on the run with her and they escape. And then at the end they end up in this town and there are these kind people who want to take her in and they're offering to give them a place to stay and take care of him. And then one night he is packing his stuff and he has to kind of leave his daughter behind because he can't deal and she can't deal with living in the woods. And she shouldn't because a teenage girl and should have a life. And they have this beautiful, I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, watch, but there's this beautiful moment where at the end you just know they're both okay and they've both got what they need, but it's not what you want for them. You want these two to figure it out. You want him to get better and he just can't cope with civilization Society. Yeah, good stuff. Matthew Lavania, what are your thoughts on withholding information from the audience to allow them to work things out for themselves rather than spoonfeed them everything?

    Michael Jamin:

    Good question, Matthew. That is something I struggle with, that it's not an easy task. That's kind of the difference between writing, in my opinion, writing smart writing, and maybe not so smart writing. So if I were to tell a children's a show, like a family show, middle of the Road, family Show, kind of a hokey, I would break that story the same exact way I would break an episode, let's say, of Marin, which was a very sophisticated dark comedy for adults. I would break it the same exact way. The differences for the family show, which kids are supposed to watch with their parents, I would spell it out a little more. I'd do a little more spoonfeeding. And for the adult show for Marin, I would make the, I just wouldn't say it as much, and the audience would have to figure it out on their own. And people would think, oh, Marin is smart because I'm making them do the work. Whereas it's literally the same steps, the same beat board, it's all the same except I'm making, I'm spoonfeeding the family show, but I'm making on Marin. I'm letting the audience do little work. And when you make the audience do more work, they feel it's a smarter show because they have to be smarter. They have to pay attention more. And so that in my opinion, is the difference between a smart show and let's say a not smart show.

    Phil Hudson:

    For the newer writers, there are two terms that come to mind. One is subtext, which I could not wrap my head around when I was first figuring learning writing, but it's absolutely critical to writing professionally. You need to understand it's like what's not being said, it's being said, but not said that subtext. And then the other is this principle of audience inferior and audience superior, meaning your audience doesn't know what's going on versus your audience knows more than your characters know what's going on. And there are tools you use. So in a horror film, you might use Audience Superior to say, oh no, don't go in there. Don't go in there that the killer's in there. But then you might use audience inferior and a horror film for the jump scare where leather face pops out in the woods and gets your kids. So they're just tools of the craft and you use 'em. Applicably.

    On this note, I've talked about the show when Bluey is very popular right now on Disney Plus. It's a kid's show about their dogs and even at shows from Australia. And they're fascinating. And I love watching them probably more than my kids love watching them because they are very smart, very, this was something I just saw on TikTok yesterday. It's a new term I learned called a Rainbow Baby. Have you ever heard that term Rainbow Baby? Is the baby born immediately after a miscarriage or a stillbirth or something like that? And it's a very emotional thing for parents. And there's an episode where Blue's kind of acting out how her mom and her dad fell in love and kind of how Bluey got there and her sister Bingo's helping her act it out. And Bingo's got this balloon underneath her belly to pretend like she's pregnant and she's playing the mom.

    And they don't tell you this. And I've watched this episode probably five times, and until someone pointed this out, there's this moment where the balloon pops and you see Blue's Dad grab his wife's hand and they hold hands. And I get emotional as a husband with kids. It's like, oh, they went through a miscarriage. And they don't tell you. Kids will never know. But as an adult it's like, wow, there's a level to this that is just beautiful. So that's subtext and it's audience inferior. It's all those things that we're talking about. So I'm going to wipe my tears now into my microphone. A couple of questions left, and I know we're going to be a little bit long here guys. So apologize. You're getting a bunch of questions answered. The Lovely Bone 0 5 2. How do you make character's voice different than your own? Which I think is kind of the projecting question we talked about earlier, but do you have any about voice?

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the fun part. If you're writing for Frazier Crane, you speak like Frazier Crane, you look up words in the thesaurus. So he uses smart language instead of good and bad, it'll say delicious and magnificent. How do you do that? That's the fun. That's the imitation part where we get to imitate people. So you listen, you use your ears and you mock people

    Phil Hudson:

    And you have experiences you've talked about before.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Joshua and Ashley Earls Bennett want to know, this is about miscellaneous questions, by the way. Is there a character sheet for stories that have taken place in the past? And I think this is a reference to a story Bible and not the one you do for pitching, but the one in the writer's room.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I mean, I don't look at it. I mean, most shows keep a Bible for whatever purposes. I don't even know why. But they keep a record of all these characters and stories that have been told. So if someone needs to know for at some point in the future, it's there, but I don't reference them.

    Phil Hudson:

    Here's an Easter egg on why you might have this, because we didn't have this on Tacoma fd. And then there was a point where in this season of Tacoma fd, they're going to rename the street pan easy way. And so we need to know what is the street of the firehouse. And so I had to go dig through every last episode of the script, every script from season one through, and you find out, well, we've had two addresses because someone wrote it down, or I know we ran into a plot point where it's like we need to pick a specific game that was missed as a plot point for this episode, and why Terry's mad at his daughter because that's the night she was born. But in the timeline, we might say she was this age, and then now you're stuck trying to find an important event in this specific year because you have to maintain the continuity of the story.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's a good example. So if we have an episode and we want to like, okay, we want to bring back Eddie's

    Phil Hudson:

    Spatchcock.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, whatever. A girlfriend that he had in the first season one, what was her name again? I can't remember. We want to bring this character back. We'd asked the writer's assistant, the writer would check the Bible that they kept a record of because we as the writers might not remember because it's like a trivia. It's trivia from four seasons ago.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. Jenny Harper. Are there any character sheets that list how each character changes by beat? Beat by

    Michael Jamin:

    Beat? No, we wouldn't keep a record of that. That'd be crazy. That'd be too much work.

    Phil Hudson:

    Is there a reason for a character or a writer to keep that?

    Michael Jamin:

    I mean, I often would wonder when I watched Lost or even Game of Thrones, I'm like, wait, who knows what here? It's hard to remember. That's the challenge. One of the challenges of shows like that, wait, who knows what's going on here? I'm terrible at that. I don't like that aspect of writing, but certainly What is that?

    Phil Hudson:

    So this is a book by Javier gr Marks watch, which we've talked about before. He was a writer on Lost and he's got a blog where he talks about that first season of Lost, which he was on, and this is his book, shoot This one again, which is kind of stories, essays on being a writer and a showrunner. And this book is really good and he talks a lot about Bibles and what it was like to come up with stories and things like that. And they've got a really great podcast too on TV writing that's not very active, but it was really good resource called Children of Tendu. So if you're interested in more of that stuff, I think they're a very good resource for that. And that book's great. Check it out. But shout out to Javi. You know Javi, right? You've met him. Is that right?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I never met him. I know who he is

    Phil Hudson:

    Though. You know of him.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think maybe we tweeted each other once or twice or something.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, they're cool guys. I've reached out to them as well to help them with their podcast back in the day. They did not take me up on it, Michael, but you did.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh well, I did. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    They missed out. Yeah. Chris, who wants to know, what are some examples of compelling character development in television characters who really stand out from a professional writer's perspective?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I mean, Walter White fantastic, but anybody on Breaking Bed? Is it fantastic? You

    Phil Hudson:

    Talked about Aria Stark already. That's another great one. John

    Michael Jamin:

    Star. There's so many great characters. I mean, when people think there's nothing good on, it's like, well change a channel, man. There's plenty of good TV on. I dunno what you're talking about. Stop watching your terrible shows. It's your fault. I'm loving severance. I'm loving severance,

    Phil Hudson:

    Severance.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so interesting to me. Yeah, love

    Phil Hudson:

    It. Alex r how in depth do rooms of writers deconstruct characters?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, we have an idea when we start writing and then the characters, it's not like we deconstruct. They actually become, it's almost like they're real people to us. And so are you deconstructing your mother or do you just know your mother? You know who mother is and so they're real people. It's not like we're not taking 'em apart and laying 'em on a table.

    Phil Hudson:

    Do you want to talk about the doctor? No. In the writer's room that came up recently this week in a conversation with somebody. But it's also like this might be that someone, it's almost like you're nitpicking your character a bit.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, but I don't watch Dr. No, so I don't really keep,

    Phil Hudson:

    No Dr. Noah as in the doctor Noah in the room. Maybe that's not you. That's them. Dr. Noah is the naysayer, the guy who says tears things down and doesn't like.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean that's not a helpful, you can find a reason to say no to every pitch in a writer's room. It is just not helpful. So find a reason to build it up to be positive and to say something helpful.

    Phil Hudson:

    How do you make sticky or awesome characters that get stuck in people's heads and hearts and how can you have a character that you expand over more than one season? How do you develop a character?

    Michael Jamin:

    This is the journey we all put ourselves on, but again, I don't even think it's so much the character as it is the journey we put them on. You could take anyone, make them interesting. I feel you could make anyone interesting as long as you put 'em on the right journey.

    Phil Hudson:

    Dave Campbell, how do we get away with using characters based on real life when there's always that stupid boilerplate saying exactly the opposite. The characters and events are not based on real events or

    Michael Jamin:

    How do we, I guess what's the question? Do

    Phil Hudson:

    Do we get away with using a character that's based on somebody in real life when there's always that stupid boilerplate? The disclaimer about this is not based on real people.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I mean change 'em a little. You're basing it on them and you're changing their name and their identity. And so if you're going to make a character against model it against your best friend, change it enough so that your best friend doesn't find out, it won't know. So that's how you do it.

    Phil Hudson:

    I wrote a script once and gave it to my friend who's an actor that was on the bridge and he was a little on the nose, but I appreciate it. He felt like I wrote him, which I did. I wrote him. He was just such a character and it was not interesting to him as an actor who has been on a major show, he's just like, this is just me.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right, right.

    Phil Hudson:

    Mishu Pizza. Can character foils also be considered a side character or a supporting character or the main character's best friend? I feel like foils don't always have to be the antagonist. Is that true?

    Michael Jamin:

    I feel like we're overthinking this a little bit. I feel like maybe we're giving labels that don't need to be labeled. We have a hero. We're going to put this hero on a journey and who are the people? Or if it's a like a buddy comedy or whatever we're talking about, or if it's a husband and wife or whatever the story, what's the journey we're putting them on and who are the characters who are going to get in their way? And often if it's a husband and wife, they're going to be fighting each other, so Okay, good. And who are the characters that we need to create to help foment this argument that they're going to have?

    Phil Hudson:

    I think Workaholics is a great example of this. It was probably about three seasons in where it kind of clicked for me. Like Anders Holick is the straight man. He is the protagonist who's like wants to be city councilman and wants to do this, but he's friends with these stoners. And you've got Blake who's basically a comedic relief. And then you have Adam and Adam is tearing him down or convincing him to do bad things all the time. He's kind of the bad influence. And so he's kind of his foil or his antagonist in all of these things. He's just such a ridiculous character. And so it's a really fun three piece comedy group where they're just, one person wants to do things kind of the straight way, but he always gets talked into mayhem by one of the other characters and they're best friends and roommates, so you can't get out of that situation. So it creates fun because there's that conflict all the time.

    Michael Jamin:

    So no one's a villain's and no one's even a foil. It's just like, okay, I want something and this other character wants something else. And

    Phil Hudson:

    There's rivalries in the office place, but they're not even, they might be a stumbling block for this episode, but they're not the centerpiece of the whole season. Charles Shin, what is the process like working with a writing partner when most writers write alone?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, my writing partner and I will get together and we'll talk about, bang out an idea, we'll pitch ideas and bounce 'em off each other. Then when we start writing, we are literally sitting at the same computer. We have one computer and two monitors, or now actually we have two different computers, but we share a screen. So that's how we do it. Other teams trade. I'll do act one, you do act two, and then we'll punch up each other's stuff. That's not how we do. We literally write every line together so that we're always on the same page.

    Phil Hudson:

    Are you doing any of that over Zoom or are you still meeting at each other's houses

    Michael Jamin:

    Now? Well, a little bit we did on Zoom, but now we go to each other's houses.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I was wondering how Covid affected you guys because you guys live relatively close to each other.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, we were still pretty, there was a while we were doing on Zoom, but now we go

    Phil Hudson:

    Lorenzo Savoia wants to know. Any comment on the end of the screenwriter strike?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I'm glad a deal was reached. I think the writers, yeah, were pretty happy. It was ratified by about 99% of us who voted yes. So it wasn't an excellent deal, but it was much better than we would've gotten had we knock gone on. Strike

    Phil Hudson:

    Helga G. Is there any formula on when you start a story from the end and then start on how we got there and sometimes the ending is not what you thought?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, sometimes you'll start on the second act break and oh, how did we get here? Go watch Bound Ist. A good example of that movie bound. It's often, it's just a device. It's another way of telling a story. I don't do it often. It can make a story a little more interesting because if you have a lot of peril, if you're writing a thriller, that could be a good technique, oh, how did we get here? But then again, you don't want to spend too much time. You want to just open that story on that one harrowing about to be cut open by a buzz saw, how did we get here? And then so you're really just talking about one scene and then taking it back.

    Phil Hudson:

    And it can definitely be a cliche the three days later or six weeks earlier, flashback, that kind of thing. It can be a cliche, so it needs to be earned. I think a little Echo three is a show on Apple tv and it's about a bunch of Delta force guys who go down to South America to try to save one sister and the other one is married to his sister and it starts that way with her being lined up on a pond and they're going to shoot these people. And then you hear gunshots. And then it cuts into three months earlier when they're at the wedding and these two are getting married and we introduce the characters, but it ended at the end of the episode. So we end at the end where we started and then it gets us right into the next episode. And that's meant to be you're going to burn through the whole thing in one sitting. You're not going to sit there and go episode by episode. So I felt like they handled it, but the whole time it did click in my head like, okay, this is one of those cliches of the pop backwards jump back in time.

    Alright, lucky Carillo, how do you approach rewriting a script that is fully complete and has 15 drafts already has notes, and just sat on pause for a couple years?

    Michael Jamin:

    How do you do it? You do it. I mean, I don't know you, I'm not sure what the question is. Are you going to do it or not?

    Phil Hudson:

    And I think this is something you've also said, and I don't want to judge this, and it's Lucy Carillo, by the way, not lucky, but I don't want to judge the work. I have no idea what it is, but there's a great point you make, which is stop polishing that turd, right? Just move on. And if something's been sitting there for a couple years, work on it. If you're several years and skip it, go to something else. But if you've done that and you've come back and you feel like you need to write it again, write it. Just sit down and rewrite it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, do it

    Phil Hudson:

    If you feel like it's worth your time, but it's a time cost benefit analysis. And there's also sunk cost fallacy here, which is you need to understand is it worth rewriting this thing or is it worth writing something new? And if it's been sitting there for a couple years, it might be dated or feel that way already unless it's time piece set time. But the sunco fallacy is a real thing a lot of people get caught up in. It applies here, which is I've already invested this much time in it, I better keep going. And the reality is the moment you feel that you should stop immediately and move on because you're already overinvested in it, it's not worth continuing to go. David Campbell, two questions left, Michael, but we still need to know what the proper terminology for exterior or interior establishing shots are. That was in relation to you telling them not to worry about formatting because software will handle that for them.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I mean honestly, yeah, you need to know it, but it's, it's not hard to learn Interior school auditorium day, now you know how to do it. Exterior school, playground, afternoon, done. Now you know everything you need to know. Yep, it's it. Describe the location, what time it is it, and we're done

    Phil Hudson:

    Learning. The formatting is not writing. Figuring out your characters is a part of writing. Writing extensive biographies and backstories is not writing that world. Building is not writing, writing is writing. You do these things to get to the point where you can sit down and write and they're part of the process, don't get me wrong, but you got to get words

    Michael Jamin:

    On the page. All that stuff you can Google, it's free. I don't teach that in the course because it's unimportant and it's all public. You can learn it from Google and if you get it wrong, no one caress.

    Phil Hudson:

    Ask chat GPT, and they'll tell you

    Michael Jamin:

    If you get it wrong, it doesn't matter. Well,

    Phil Hudson:

    Final draft by the way, you hit tab and you hit scene heading, and then you type in what you need and then you hit enter and it automatically knows. This should be a description and then you hit enter and then you command three and you're going to get a character. It's just part of the process.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Last question.

    Michael Jamin:

    Ah, last question.

    Phil Hudson:

    Can you ever talk about what's going on in the mind of a character? For example, he stares into space, his mind somewhere else.

    Michael Jamin:

    What about it? What's the

    Phil Hudson:

    Question? Can you ever do that? Can you ever go into the mind of your character?

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh,

    Phil Hudson:

    Your scene description, I think is what he's talking

    Michael Jamin:

    About. Yeah, you can Sure, sure. She asked the question. Let's say the wife wants to know it's on the husband's mind and he's about to answer. Should he say it or not? He's sitting on a secret. Does he open his mouth or not? You can put that in. You don't want to do too much of that. But if it helps the actor,

    Phil Hudson:

    That style, that's style and voice. That's your style and voice. I'll tell you, I'll give you another example of this for mine. The script that you read on episode 33 of the podcast, ripple, and then you sent me off to rewrite it and then I gave it to a bunch of people after I did a bunch of research and rewrote it again. And I got this great compliment, but it was a bit of a back on to compliment. It's like, I don't need you to tell me the character's mad in the scene description because you've already got an embarrassment of riches here, right? So he's saying is the subtext, did the job, me saying the character is mad. We infer that because of how well the scene is, where the scene is in the subtext. So I was just overdoing it. I didn't need to put that there, but that's prose. You would say he's upset thinking about his when he was 15 and his mother. That's prose and that's novel and it's not screenwriting.

    Michael Jamin:

    But if you have a scene where the character's sitting on the bus staring out the window wondering what has become of his life, you could say that. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    You can act that out. It needs to be seen and character, an actor needs to be able to do it or say is really what a screenplay is, right?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. So in the dialogue list scene, you might need something like that. What is the character thinking about as he stares out the window of the bus?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Awesome. There you go.

    Michael Jamin:

    Woo, everyone. Let's tell him what to look forward to. Phil,

    Phil Hudson:

    We got lots of good stuff. Obviously this is a bonus episode for coming q and a questions coming from your webinars, which are happening every three weeks. If you're hearing this, it means there's one tomorrow, so you should go register@michaei jamon.com/ webinar. It's 100% free. You hop on for about an hour, you go through some pretty cool lessons, and then you do some q and a. And I believe we're still giving away. Someone will win access to your course.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh yes. So that'll be good.

    Phil Hudson:

    So if you want access to Michael's course, just show up and someone's going to win. And we do it. We've done every time so far, which is great. You've got your book coming out, you want to talk about that?

    Michael Jamin:

    Sure. It's called The Paper Orchestra. It's a collection of personal essays, and if you want to learn more about that when it drops, go to michaeljamin.com/book and hopefully it's a fun read and hopefully it'll inspire you and you'll learn a little bit more about yourself as a person. And that's my passion project that I've been working on for the past four or so years. And that's just what I wanted to write. It's what I wanted to write for myself. So I think it's intimate and it's true. And as a TV writer, I write what they pay me to write, but this is what I wanted to write on my own.

    Phil Hudson:

    And it's awesome. And anybody who's been lucky enough to see your live performances of that are great. You're going to be doing that again in spring, it sounds like. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Hope so. Here's a base you can see it's got a nice reflection on it. But yeah, go to michael jamon.com/upcoming if you want to see me in person. I'll definitely be doing shows in LA and hopefully New York and then some of the bigger cities, hopefully Toronto, and hopefully it'll be a small tour in some of the bigger markets that I'm in.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, awesome. Outside of that, lots of free resources@michaeljamin.com/free, so you can go there. Samples of your writing, you've got free screenwriting lesson, a bunch of good stuff in there. And yeah, I mean you got your lots of social media @MichaelJaminwriter kind of all over giving out free stuff every day.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Come follow along everyone, and thank you for listening. I got some really good guests coming up, so if you like our podcast, go give us a nice review on Apple. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson:

    Even just like that's a written, if you have a second, just to write a quick note. This is great. Like this, even if you hate it, I don't like this that helps with Apple, but on Spotify or something, just hit the five star, leave us a five star review wherever you listen to it. Just hit us a review. It helps more people find it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Thanks so much everyone. Alright, thank you, Phil. Until next week, keep writing everyone.

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

    1h 12m | Dec 8, 2023
  • Ep 110 - Content Creation Expert "Coco Mocoe"

    On this week's episode, I have content creation expert "Coco Mocoe”. Tune in as we talk about her unique eye on how to spot trends for the future, as well as what different social media platforms due for creators. We also discuss her thoughts on brand deals and what she looks for and her hopes and goals for the future. 


    Show Notes

    Coco Mocoe on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cocomocoe/

    Coco Mocoe on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@cocomocoe?lang=en

    Coco Mocoe on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@UC7MC6lTh3ui3_id2n-vnlPQ

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

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

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

    Autogenerated Transcripts

    Coco Mocoe:

    Again, also with TikTok, it's always about reinventing, even though I always talk about marketing, but I feel like every three months I have to find a new way to present the same information that I've been talking about. So truly the best creators are the ones that are able to reinvent themselves, even though they're still providing the same information, but finding new ways to bring it to the feed

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity, I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back. I have a very interesting guest for everyone today. So anyone who's listening to my podcast for any amount of time, I've always said, if you want to break into Hollywood, just start doing it. Stop asking permission, start. Just make it count on social media and just start posting whatever it is you want to be good at. Make a dedicated account to proving how good you are at this one thing, whether it's writing, performing music, whatever it is, and let's just see where it goes from there. Because if you can't do that, well then Hollywood's not going to pay you to do it. You got to do it for yourself. And so my next guest is an expert in this field because not only does she make a living out of predicting trends about people who've done this before, but she's doing it herself in building her own presence online. And content absolutely is essential. I turn to it when I have questions. So please welcome Coco Moko. Thank you so much. Coco Moko, which I love your name by the way.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It's so funny when I made my username, my real name's Colleen, but I go by Coco Moko, and when I made the name, I didn't know my account would blow up, and so my managers were like, let's keep it though. It has a good ring to it. It does.

    Michael Jamin:

    But tell me, okay, so I know you've made a living at it doing this, but before you started doing it for yourself, who were you working for?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes. It's such a great story too. It was kind of divine timing, I guess. So I studied marketing in college, and then after college, my family's from the LA area, so I was super lucky to just live in LA. And I started a job that I got off Craigslist, and it ended up being this website called Famous Birthdays. I don't know if you've heard of it. It's very Gen Z Young. It's kind of like Wikipedia, but at the time, famous Birthdays was the only website really documenting YouTubers and at the time, musically kids. And so we had a really big audience of 12 year olds. And so I got hired there and my job was to run the musically, which had then turned to TikTok. So I was on the app early, and then the founder of Famous Birthdays, his name's Evan, he's like, if you ever see someone on your free page that you think is going to be famous, just invite them in and we'll interview them.

    And shortly after that was when I saw Charlie Delio when she was really early. We invited her in and we were her first ever interview, and that went super viral. And then there was a few others from that kind of era of kids and because of the videos that I was working on at Famous birthdays that were getting, I think one of the videos with Charlie Delios at 40 million Views on YouTube. And because we got an early, so, but then from there, I then got hired at buzzfeed, and I was at Buzzfeed for three and a half years where I was working on the backend with strategy, coming up with videos, and it was really just my job to go into meetings with different brands and creators and stuff and just tell them what I think the upcoming trends will be, how I think platforms are shifting, mainly TikTok and how I think that they can best create ideas that will go viral or work with people that aren't famous enough yet that they're going to decline but are eager to come in. And so that was really where I got the start with predicting and stuff, and where I learned that I had a good eye for pattern recognition, and then I just started making my own tos. That kind of blew up. And then I quit my full-time job in June of this year and have been just doing full-time stuff since.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so now you have close to a million followers, which is huge. Thank you.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Then so, okay, so when you work for yourself, what does that mean?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, so I never really thought that I would go the consultant route. It was something that kind of just happened as a result of the videos that I was making. I never posted my trend prediction videos or algorithm decoding kind of videos with the intention of getting hired, but I was getting so many inquiries from really big brands that wanted to just pick my brain for an hour or so when I was at buzzfeed. And then I just felt, I mean, it was the different legal non-compete clauses and stuff. And so I just eventually realized that financially it made more sense to just take an hour meeting with a brand and make what I would've made in a month. And I'm so lucky you never know how long it's going to last. I'm very, very lucky. So that's kind of what the full-time thing is. Consulting sometimes brand deals. I don't always like to do a ton of brand deals. I don't want my account to just feel like one big commercial. And then I've been lucky enough to have a lot of music people actually reach out to me and I consult on the music side as well, so super lucky. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Okay. So big brands want your opinions, but are you saying also that the creators as well want your opinions?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, a lot of creators, and I actually, that's why I made the podcast that I have ahead of the curve, which hopefully you'll be able to come on one day when your book comes out. Yeah, I love that. And I do my podcast because I can't meet with everyone, and so I started doing that for a way to reach more of the creators. But yeah, I do have a lot of creators reach out. I feel like bandwidth wise, it's hard. So I try to find ways to reach out to people in my community that isn't always just a money exchange or a meeting and stuff. So I'm still figuring it out, but I've been very lucky since I went full-time with this.

    Michael Jamin:

    You must know this, or I'm hoping. So when a musician, an actor or whatever comedian, when they're reaching out to you or they're following you, what is it do you think they want, do you think they just want to blow up on social media or do they want to move to what I do traditional Hollywood?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. No, it's such a good question, and I think a lot of it when I do get more of the bigger celebrities that have followed me every now and then, I'm always like, I don't know. At first I'd be like, I don't know why. I don't know what value I'm even providing them. I remember one time Paris Hilton followed me and I was like, she is the biggest influencer in the world. And I'm like, what could I potentially provide to someone like that through my videos? But I think a lot of it too is just when I've talked to people who have followed me, whether it's an actor or a musician or just a person who's watching tos and has never made one before. A lot of the times they say that they like that my videos are able to take something happening on the algorithm or on marketing and media, but I kind of give a bigger lens to it as well.

    I'm able to connect the dots to everyone, whether you're watching it, whether you are the one making the content and really simplifying it and not just making, I think a lot of when I would watch marketing videos and stuff, it would be a lot of broy ad talk, which that's important talk too, but I never really related to the AB and that kind of stuff. I liked being like, this is why this person watched it. So anyways, I think that if it is an actor or musician following me, I think some of it is just curiosity. I don't think they always have the intention of using my videos as strategy, but when they do, I think it's because as working in entertainment, it really is an attention economy, and the way that people give their attention is constantly shifting. You could make the best piece of work and you just never know if the attention's going to be there or not. I think them watching my helps maybe dissect why certain things go viral, but again, you never know. You never really know. It's just always up in the air. But I try to bring sense to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    It changes. Everything changes so fast. Whatever the algorithm, whatever the new trend, whatever's going on, changes fast. And I feel like you always seem to be on top of it. How are you on top? Are you just watching videos all day and making lists and stuff? What are you doing?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes. It's so funny. I get that question all the time. I do spend a good amount of time on TikTok. I try not to because I think sometimes I believe in there's this saying, and it's the universe whispers, and it's essentially this idea that once you finally turn off your phone and the TV and the for you page scrolling and you just sit in silence for a little bit, that's when the ideas will come to you. So I do try to take moments away from my phone, but I would say for me, I do spend a lot of time on my phone and watching the algorithm, but I try to be strategic about it, and I do have notes on my phone. I'm constantly writing down ideas, and this sounds really woo woo, but sometimes my most viral ideas actually come to me in if I'm sleeping or something. I think it's this weird moment where it's all the information I've received throughout the day finally comes into me and I absorb it in a way, and then I wake up and I'll film a video. That's why I always film right first thing in the morning. And those are sometimes my most viral videos. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, a couple questions for you. So now when I first got on TikTok, okay, I got a lot of followers. I'm like, well, why do I have all these? What's the point of followers? When your reach is so low, why do they give you that metric? If you have half a million followers and on any given day, 10, 20,000 will see your content,

    Coco Mocoe:

    That happens to me and I have an algorithm answer for that. And then I also have something that helps me when I'm making videos that happens to even the biggest creators. But one way that I still feel inspired to make content and don't get down on myself when that happens is I think the creator, Chris Olson said it. He's a pretty big talker. And one time he said, yeah, 300 views feels really low for the first hour of a video being up. But imagine if you were in a lecture hall and 300 people walked in, that would be a really exciting feeling. You'd be nervous to speak to that many people. And even if I get three or five comments the first few hours, I think, well, I just gave a lecture, and that essentially is three people came up to me after and wanted to ask me more questions about it.

    So that's one way I try to still think that I'm adding value. And I feel like the biggest thing I hear from whether it's creators, celebrities, or brands, is, and it happens to everyone. So it's a universal experience, especially on TikTok. They always say, I feel like the algorithm hates me now. I feel like I'm shadow banned. And I agree. I think that things like that happen on the algorithm. What I think happens sometimes, I wonder if TikTok will inflate numbers every now and then where I'm like, I don't know if I actually got that many views, or it's almost like a lottery. I think that they gamified creating content in a way that almost feels like gambling, where you're rewarded for doing it more and more. But then it also can be exhausting and disorienting. And I think one thing that I've noticed sometimes happens is that one, people consume videos on their for you page and not always their following.

    I don't really know a lot of people that use the following tab to watch videos. So TikTok is so weird. I could follow a creator and never see one of their videos again. Yeah, it's just, it rewards people for finding new creators every day. But one more logistical piece of advice that I've heard and that I theorize, I don't know. I say it's like a Tin hat theory about the algorithm, but I think that TikTok, there's a human element to it, and they specifically push out certain trends or certain things happening in the news, and then when they're ready to shift to a new trend, whether it's because they have brands that want to promote something on their app or whatever it is, they will not necessarily shadow ban certain creators, but they shadow ban certain hashtags. That's just a theory I have. What often happens when I talk to people when they're experiencing it is I'll tell them to pull back on all of their hashtags, don't use any hashtags, and sometimes that will subvert any, it takes a while.

    But yeah, so basically what I'm saying is when it does feel like the algorithm hates you, it's usually not just you, it's just that the topic that you're talking about, they feel like it no longer is relevant for whatever reason, and they're shifting to something new. And again, also at TikTok, it's always about reinventing, even though I always talk about marketing, but I feel like every three months I have to find a new way to present the same information that I've been talking about. So truly, the best creators are the ones that are able to reinvent themselves, even though they're still providing the same information, but finding new ways to bring it to the feed. If TikTok is enjoying videos that are longer than a minute, making videos that are longer than a minute, if TikTok is preferring green screen videos going into green screen. So it really is kind of this tango that you play, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Ultimately it seems like, I'm sorry, like a vanity metric that they give you, which doesn't do any, okay, so why are you telling me this number?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Exactly. I 100% agree, and it's why I think it's great. You have your podcast, and I've heard you on other podcasts when I was looking up things about the strike, I remember listening to you as a guest on podcasts, and that's why I always encourage people, do not let TikTok be your number one. That can be your Trojan horse. It can get you exposure, and it can get you into the room that you want to be in, but it is not sustainable. TikTok is so finicky one day it'll love you. The next three months, it'll hate you. So really having things outside of TikTok that your audience, I always say have a home base outside of TikTok, so a podcast or whatever it is. So yeah, I totally rambled. I'm sorry, but I get that question a lot. Yeah, it's a good question.

    Michael Jamin:

    The whole thing. I also have a feeling after being on the app for so long that the number of serious content creators who post every day, for some reason, I feel like it's a much smaller, they won't tell you how many is, but it feels like it's a much smaller number than you might think it is. Do you feel that way?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. Are you saying you feel like there's less people posting than you would think or,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, but seriously, every day who were like, okay, I'm committing to do it. Some people are just, alright, here's a silly video of me eating ice cream, and then they won't post again for another 10 months or whatever. But for the people who really trying to build a platform, I feel like that number is actually maybe lower than you'd think.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. So yeah, I think what it is is a lot of people, it's very, I think TikTok is really great in that it's one of the first ever apps I've seen where so many people have gone viral and reached audiences that we would've never thought of. I have found so many new creators on TikTok, whereas on YouTube, I'd find a new creators I was excited about maybe once every three months. But I think what it is is like, yeah, sustaining that is so hard. I think that what happens is people often, most origin stories on TikTok are, some people will go into it strategically, but the video that really blows up and puts them on the map, they never would've guessed it would've been that video or why it was that video. They never really know. And so I think that some people just don't have, they get excited, but they can't necessarily sustain it.

    And that's why I always think that the creators that have a slow burn are the ones who end up being the most successful in the long run. I'm sure that's even something that kind of in some ways applies to the entertainment industry, but I always think of the biggest creator in the world right now is Mr. Beast. And it took him five years to hit his first 100,000 followers, but I think that that length of time is why when he did finally get lucky, he had the daily habits and the muscle and the mental stamina to withstand that attention. Whereas some creators will have this stroke of luck, and then the moment the algorithm is no longer rewarding them in a month or two, they kind of freak out and just abandon it. Or they'll only post once every few weeks because they're ashamed that they aren't getting the numbers that they were. But it's just so normal. It's just the biggest creators.

    Michael Jamin:

    But to what end is all this, why is everyone doing this? Is it, I mean, I can see why you do it. You have a business now, but why is everyone else doing this?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I think it's two things. I think one, TikTok made it really easy to post. The barrier to entry is very low. And on YouTube, if you really wanted to go viral on YouTube five years ago, it would've taken understanding, editing to some degree, understanding how to upload certain files to your computer. I mean, those things are so hard. It would've taken the knowledge of figuring out how to make thumbnails. And the barrier to entry was just so high for platforms like YouTube, TikTok made it really easy that anyone could go viral. And I think the why, what's to what end? I think the people that have a kind of north star outside of TikTok are the ones that are successful, the ones that have something they're striving. For me, I feel like my best videos don't come from me saying, I want to go viral today.

    They come from me saying something like, oh, I have this hour long interview that I did, and I want to feed people to that. Let me just make a video, giving them the best moment. And so I think that the why version, what's the bigger thing? We're striving for every creator. It's different, but if you are only striving for TikTok fame, it's so fleeting. And that's never, again, I say TikTok, it's like the Trojan horse. It's just going to get you in the room, but it's not going to do the talking for you. It's not going to make the business deals. It just gets you in a room that you might not have been in otherwise.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so what are the rooms, do you think it's people are trying to become actors, so they're trying to blow up, whatever, I'm goofy here now, put in your TV show. Is that what it is?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, I mean, it could be. I guess everyone's different. I know. I think there's this one guy, I don't know if you saw it, I think a year or two ago, and he made videos. He made comedic videos, and he made one video about wanting to be on SNL, and the internet was really hard on him, and I didn't feel like I see that it was fair. Yeah. I was like, okay, this is someone shooting their shot. Good for him. He didn't put anyone down in the process. He didn't step on anyone. It was a video that took obviously planning and thought. And I think also maybe he reposted it recently and that's why it's at top of mind and it's going viral again, but now there's a positive sentiment around it. So I do think that, and to answer your question, I do think that specifically for actors, there's a Pandora's box with TikTok because it does get you in a room.

    And I could be wrong. I feel like you probably know more about this than me, but I feel like with actors, they have to be very strategically pulled back. They don't want to reveal too much about themselves personally because it could hurt them in terms of being typecast or getting into character, I think could be harmed. If people are like, oh, I remember them making a TikTok where they failed at making iced coffee one day and it spilled all over their dog. No one will ever take them seriously. So I think actors, it's a little tricky. It's like a Pandora's box. They go viral, but it's really hard for that to be taken seriously, I think, by audiences sometimes, but I do think some will be able to do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Is that your theory, or are you hearing this from actors from creators who tried to break it and are getting that feedback?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I mean, no, I guess for me, it really is more of a theory and just me watching one of the really big comedic talkers who was on TikTok for years, and she doesn't do it as much anymore, but her name's Brittany Broski. I don't know if you've heard of her. No. She was pretty big. She had a few memes that went viral, and she has millions of followers, but I think she would make a really great SNL cast member. I think that she's really funny and smart, and I could see that in the cards for her one day. But right now she's just doing a podcast as herself and not just doing, I mean, that's huge. But I think that she's one of the bigger creators that I think of in terms of being an actor on TikTok. And I don't know that we've seen someone be able to translate that to a big role yet. I think we will. We just haven't seen it yet, because there is this weird dynamic between the audience and the actor that other influencers don't really have to worry about.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I wish I knew the name. There's someone named Nurse Blake. You heard of him? No. Okay. Because a comedian, but a nurse, he sells out venues doing I guess comedy, but he's also a nurse. I'm like, I don't understand if you're selling out these giant venue news, what's with this other gig you got? So I just don't get it. I don't get any of it.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Well, and what's funny, the thing about what you just explained is really fascinating to me, and it's something I talked about last year where I coined it the rise of the anti influencer, but essentially him having something like another job, whether that's still happening or not, I think audiences are drawn to that because they feel like there's less pressure on them if the influencer doesn't succeed. It's like, well, they have another job, and so they actually are more likely to be open to the person. So oddly, I think having that kind of double life in a way lends to an audience feeling less pressure. And that did make me remember that in terms of the comedic route and acting and stuff, there was one standup comedian, his name's Matt Rife.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. And I just learned about him. So go on. I had never heard of him until go on.

    Coco Mocoe:

    And I think he's one of those people where it's like Mr. Beast, where he had been trying to do the standup comedy route for five or seven years, and he started just posting clips from his shows on TikTok, and he went on a tour last year, and he filmed a Netflix special that hasn't aired yet, but Forbes, he was on the Forbes top creator list, and they estimated that he had made 25 million last year.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I saw that article. I'm floored.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes. I don't know how they calculate. I don't know. But if it's even just 2.5 million, that's a crazy number for someone who was struggling as a standup comedian, began posting clips of it to TikTok and is now selling out venues, and it's crazy. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Mind blowing. And yeah, it's just a platform. And I give him a lot of credit. I mean, made himself, he willed it to be, but I mean, I guess, I don't know. I know you guys were talking, you and your podcasting party we're talking about, and what's the name of your pocket, by the way, so everyone can

    Coco Mocoe:

    Talk? Oh, yeah. So I have my main one, it's ahead of the curve with Coco Mocoe. That one's my solo one where I just talk to experts like yourself and stuff. And then I have a show with my friend, his name's Nikki Rearden, called Share Your Screen, where each week we dive into whatever's happening in the news or in marketing and talk about why we think certain things are going viral. So a lot of people that see the clips from my profile, it's usually the clips of me and Nikki. So I'm guessing that's what

    Michael Jamin:

    It might've been. But you guys were talking about the newest trend, which is basically, I guess people like me sharing expertise in some kind of attempt to what,

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, I mean, I think experts are what make TikTok my favorite app because it takes people who maybe didn't have time or the career background to study, again, film theory and cameras and microphones and how to sync up audio and all these things, but they're able to make really good videos because of the TikTok editing software within the app. And yeah, I mean, I used this saying on TikTok where it's called the niche, here you go, the Quicker You Grow. It's a saying that I came up with when I was at buzzfeed, and I would say in every meeting. And what I meant by that is people have this misconception that in order to go viral, you have to hit the masses. You have to make a cool football moment and also tap dance and also paraglide and tell a funny joke all in 30 seconds in the same video. And I am like, that's not really how it works. The best videos are very niche, and that's kind of why experts grow on the app. You are known as the Hollywood writer, and I think I was telling one of my friends that I was going on your pod, and when I said that they knew exactly who you were. And it's just that thing where it's like you would rather be known for, or another way I say it is you want to be great at one thing on social media, then be average at everything. But if

    Michael Jamin:

    You're 20 years old, what are you great at?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, and I think that's a great question. That's why, and I don't think 20 year olds are people that are still, even people in their midlife or older don't always have to start their account and just stick to one thing. I think part of social media is exploring different parts of your identity and seeing what people to respond to. So I think that's why we do see a lot of the younger kids online are more lifestyle influencers. Their day is, I mean, I'm 27 now. When I was between the ages of 19 and 23, I felt like my life something different changed every single day. And it was interesting. But if I did lifestyle content, now my life is very normal and stable that I always say, I'm like, I'm not interesting. The things I talk about are interesting. So that's why I think there's a lot of lifestyle creators that are younger. Their life is constantly changing as it does when you're in your early twenties. But TikTok is really where I feel like we've seen older people in midlife. And on the other apps on Instagram, I felt like you had to be an 18 year old model traveling the world to be interesting to the algorithm. And it's not like that on TikTok. And I would say YouTube's similar to TikTok in that way too. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I don't know. I can't grow on YouTube. I could do well, this platform on TikTok, but Oh, I had a question. No, I lost it. Can you believe I lost it? No, you're good. Yeah. Well, now we'll have to take a pause as I try to remember what I was going to say, but Oh, yeah, no, I know what I was going to say. So you are in an interesting position in that you share your expertise on this, on becoming, I don't know, a creator or an influencer and all that, but you also do that. So talk a little bit about that. When you post, okay, you know what you're going to say to help, this is the trend you're spotting, or this is who's blowing up. You want to talk, but you also have to make a video where you are performing where you are. You're not just sharing your knowledge, you are a creator as well.

    Coco Mocoe:

    I know it's kind of meta. It's meta. Now we've entered the age of social media where creators are making platforms, talking about being a creator. I mean, yeah, I guess for me, I am really lucky that my audience likes when I talk about those things, and I don't have to necessarily divulge a bunch of information about my personal life and stuff. I think some creators do get into a predicament where their whole brand is built on their relationship, and then maybe their relationship ends, unfortunately, and they have to rebrand. And so I'm very lucky that my audience just likes when I talk about what's happening. And it's funny because when I started talking about these things, I didn't actually think that people really cared. Crazy story is when I first started my TikTok and some of my followers found me through, this is, it sounds so woo, but I actually, I did tarot.

    Me and my friends do tarot for fun, and I would make a few tarot videos, and they went viral. And then I realized that there's 15 year olds making way better tarot videos than I ever could. I'm like, the world's going to be okay if these 15 year olds, they're doing their messages and it's great, and if that's what you believe in and you like that content, they've got it covered. And so I told my audience, I was like, okay, you guys. And I could tell the algorithm was shifting away from that, and it just wasn't exciting anymore. And I was a professional and it was just a hobby that I did, and I told my audience, I was like, I'm going to take a break from my TikTok and I think I'm going to come back to the internet. I think you guys are going to find me, but it's going to look different, and I don't know what that's going to be yet.

    And at the time, again, I was working at buzzfeed. I talked about these things in my nine to five, and I always thought it was, I loved it, but I thought it would be boring to other people, like the whole marketing, the trends, the algorithm. I thought that that was having an accountant talk about math. Then I took a break from my account for a little bit. I would make every videos every now then, but then one day before a meeting, I had five minutes and I made a video that was a trend prediction, and it got I think 4 million views in two days. And within a week, I was getting booked to go speak at Adweek in New York and all of these crazy doors opened. And so it was funny that for me, I always was doing marketing, and I just never thought until I made that video randomly that anyone actually cared about that. But I guess a lot of people did. And I'm very lucky that a lot of people did. And I have been riding the wave ever since. And I feel like as long as there's new trends and new people getting viral and new things happening online, I'll always have something new to talk about, and I'll never get bored.

    Michael Jamin:

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

    I have rules that I played by how many days, how many times a day will you post and how many days a week? Because it can get out of hand. It can get so much where you are working for the app now.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes, there are days where I'll post a lot and there's days where I just won't do anything. I mean, it really depends on my schedule. Each day when I was first starting and just doing green screen videos with my trend predictions and algorithm things, I would probably film two or three a day. But now also that TikTok rewards longer content. I don't know if you do that minute or longer type videos. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    I do. It's always at least three minutes. Yeah.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes. And are you in the creativity beta program?

    Michael Jamin:

    No. No. I want to talk about that.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Okay.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, good. Hang on to that.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Okay, good, good, good. Now, TikTok has the beta program, which I'm in, and when I know that's not going to last forever, but when I got my first check from that, I was like, oh, that's a good chunk of money. Now, when I do film videos, it really is my job. I see. Every time I film a video that's a minute or longer, I'm like, okay, that is a certain amount of money that I could make. But I will say probably on average I'll post three to five videos depending on my mood, and then I'll usually take a day or two off and I'll film in studio or something. So it really just depends. But I think that now that I've grown a little bit, I do think I do more quality over quantity, whereas the first few months where I really blew up doing this kind of thing, I was posting a lot. I was riding the wave. And now that I think I have credibility and a few really good videos under my belt, I can do a little bit less and people will pay attention and seek out my content. Now, are you

    Michael Jamin:

    Worried though, that being the creator studio will limit? This is for those who don't know, this is when TikTok will pay you. You post a video and they pay you depending on how views you have. Are you worried that it'll limit your views, your reach?

    Coco Mocoe:

    So that's a great question because, and again, tin Hat theory, I don't know, but for those of you guys who were on the app a couple of years ago, they had this thing called the Creator Fund. And I ran experiments on accounts at my, and through creators I worked with at my old job where we would enroll into the creator fund. And let's say they were getting on average 5 million views a month, and we would enroll into the creator fund and their views would drop to a hundred thousand a month, and they couldn't get a video with over 2000 views. And I personally think it was TikTok was capping the money because they were pulling the money out of thin air. They didn't have ads on the platform didn't, it's not like YouTube where it's ad sent, so it's not out of YouTube's pocket. It's like Google paid Red Bull paid to put an ad on a Mr. Beast video for 30 seconds, and YouTube's not paying that money. But TikTok, I think, capped people's views, in my opinion. I don't know, because they were realizing they had to pull this money out of thin air.

    The beta program that is happening now, I don't know. I know some creators have had problems. I feel like my videos actually perform better now that I'm in it. I don't know the math behind it. I don't know if it's because TikTok is running more ads on the platform that they can afford it. I will say that I think that TikTok is gearing up to lean into longer, longer content. I know on their website, they've been testing podcast beta features like I'm nosy, and I go on the TikTok website and I'll just look at little buttons and stuff, what I had to do for my old job, and I can see them rolling out this podcast button, and then they took it down, and then they'll put it back up. And I think they're getting ready to roll that out. So I don't know, but I do think that at least my own experience, the beta program has been great for me financially. I don't think it's going to last.

    Michael Jamin:

    Why do you say that? Why won't it last forever?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I don't know. I think that I never put any of my eggs in any financial basket as a full-time creator. Now, you never know. And also, one day I could wake up and people could just find my videos not interesting anymore. That's always something that's in the back of my mind, and I have to be okay with that. So,

    Michael Jamin:

    Because I wasn't sure if they call it a beta account because it is beta, they're going to change it.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Oh, yeah. Because called the creativity beta program, and I think it's maybe only certain creators can be a part of it or something. You have to have 10,000 followers. So yeah, I don't know. At least for me, the last, I think I enrolled in June, and I think we're not allowed to share the exact amounts in the terms of service. But I'll just say it was more than my monthly salary at my full-time job. And I was like, okay, cool.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you really have to have videos that go viral

    Coco Mocoe:

    Pretty good.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I mean, I have a big following. You never know. Yeah, it might be 20,000 due on a video, and that might be that way for two weeks. So I don't think, it doesn't sound like a get rich quick scheme for me. I don't know.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, no, I always say it's just you never want to put all your eggs in one basket with social media. A platform could be gone tomorrow. You never know, really. I always say you just always want to have that kind of North star. You just want to use social media again as that Trojan horse, but always have other things in the back of your mind, which I was honestly curious about you. I know there's the strike and stuff, but do you feel like having your TikTok, do you think it's helped open doors for you in your career year?

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I mean, originally I started it, and I want to get your advice on this. I started it because I wrote a book and my agent said, platform drives acquisition. I said, well, what does that mean? He says, you need to have a social media following to sell it. And in the field in personal essays, which is because if you like David Sera, it's like that. So my goal, and which I've already done, is I written the book, it'll go on sale probably in a couple months, and then I've been performing with it. I've been touring with a little bit with it to sell tickets, my poster of me. So I didn't want to, so that was the whole goal was just to write a book and then tour with it and a show that I do. And so the reason I didn't want to get into the beta program, I was like, well, let's not lose sight of what the goal is. I don't want to do anything that's going to jeopardize that. It's really about selling a book and then touring with it. But what advice do you have for me regarding that?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, no, I mean, one, I would say for books specifically, two, I feel like oddly, I mean, I'm not even really on Meadow or Facebook like that, but there's certain communities. I had someone, a relative that wrote a book once, and it was in their specific profession, and I was like, you should join Facebook pages about that profession. But of course, there's certain things where you can't promote. But no, I guess in terms of promoting your book specifically, one, I think that if you are going on tour, of course the posting clips from being on stage for whatever reason, people just love those. I feel like that's low hanging fruit advice, though. I would say just, I can send you a guy's profile after this if I follow him out to find it. But he is an author and he will just read quotes from his book, and some of the clips go viral.

    He literally just will read a part of it. And maybe even, I don't know if you live stream a lot like TikTok live sometimes just the type of audience that watches a live, it's a lot of work. So I don't think it's for everyone, and it's not for all the time, but the type of person who seeks out a TikTok live, they're very loyal. They sometimes have not in a bad way, they just have a lot of time on their hands. They're more likely to be early adopters of whatever the creator's doing. So I know that's kind of all surface level advice, but I guess, so you have a new book coming out? Is that what it is? Or,

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, my first book, yeah, because a TV writer, first book. This is my first book.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Okay. You've been on TikTok for, I think I found you a

    Michael Jamin:

    Year. It's probably been two years now.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Okay. Yeah. I feel like I found you a year ago, so it's, I'm guessing you've just been building it up. I mean, yeah, I wish I had better advice. I think I'd have to know more too. That's why I'm excited. I'd love to read your book and then have you on my pod. I just did that with, yeah, I love reading. I've had two guests on now where I've read their book, and I feel like it really helps me with questions. And again, my thing is you just never know what's going to go viral. You never know what's going to work. I feel like it's just throwing things at the wall.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was curious if you've known anybody who's done what I'm doing, and I don't know if there is anyone, which is fine. I know. I'm glad to be the first one.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, I mean, I can't think of anyone. I do know that when I was talking to Taylor Lauren, she's a journalist that just put out a book, and she was saying that pre-sales weirdly count for so much money. So definitely, of course, ramping up. And also, I will say, oddly, I feel like because a writer, you would have a cool idea around this eventually if you slept on it. But whether it's marketing for music or shows, one of the best strategies that I've seen across the board is people love feeling like they're in on a secret or something they're not supposed to know yet. Saying something like, there's this book that hasn't come out yet, but I got my hands on it and tell me what you guys think of this quote. Or people love the idea of, this hasn't come out yet, but I'm giving you a little tidbit, or making it kind of mysterious. And then being like, there is a link to, if you are curious about the pre-sale, things like that, people love feeling like, oh, I wasn't supposed to know this, or I wasn't, like, this isn't out to the public yet. So anytime something can feel mysterious or you're doing them a favor by revealing something that isn't out there yet, oddly, that always works across the board.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Well, I discovered a couple of days ago, because the book hasn't even dropped yet, that I was on Amazon. I typed Michael Jamin into Amazon, and Michael Jamin book came up as a search term. So people are looking for it, and I haven't even announced it yet. So that's cool.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Wow. Yeah. And I know that makes me think of SEO, how you could lean into that SEO kind of thing. And sorry, do you have the name for rubric or are you allowed to

    Michael Jamin:

    Reveal it? Yeah, it's a paper orchestra and I don't have, well, here's this that has too much of a glare on it, but this is not the cover of the book. This is the cover of

    Coco Mocoe:

    My show.

    Michael Jamin:

    This is the cover of my show, and it's just like it's a typewriter, whatever it's me coming out of. But yeah, so it's very, yeah, I don't know. I feel like I'm doing this all, let's just try it. I don't really know what I'm doing really

    Coco Mocoe:

    Well. And if it makes you feel better, even the biggest people in the world that have entire teams around them, they don't really know what they're doing either. Again, the internet changes constantly. No one really knows. And I think that the people that really do succeed, one, it's a stroke of luck, and two, it's just showing up until the algorithm decides to what you're doing, knowing what your message is, but still always being able to tweak it or be flexible if you feel like a certain delivery isn't working, if talking straight to camera hasn't been hitting, being willing to do a green screen or walking while holding your phone because Gen Z for some reason, loves when people are moving while talking and just,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, there are some people, there's two creators. I follow celebrity book club, and these two, you know them. Okay,

    Coco Mocoe:

    Love them.

    Michael Jamin:

    So they just read memoirs that people put out and they talk about it, and that's it. And they're able to travel and sell tickets in various cities, which are good for you. I

    Coco Mocoe:

    Mean, I know. Yeah. And if you think about it with them, part of why it's so cool is they're providing so much value to the audience because not everyone is a reader. Or sometimes people will buy memoirs, but they won't read them for whatever reason, they'll save it, and they're kind of doing this SparkNotes thing. But I just love their pod. I saw they just had Julia Fox on, and I made a video on my profile where I'm like, Julia Fox, if you're ever in la, I'd love to have you. But yeah, and I've listened to a few episodes. I think they for years, did a couple different podcasts. And finally, this is just the one that stuck. So it really is just consistency. You just never know what format's going to be the one to really put you on the map.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's odd because I will start traveling with it, but I'm big in maybe four or five cities according to my analytics. Wow. But I'm not sure if I can sell tickets in any other city other than the ones that I'm big in. So I don't know.

    Coco Mocoe:

    And when you do start going to shows, just for whatever reason, TikTok just loves when people post clips from their shows. I think part of Matt Rife's whole thing and why he made, according to Forbes 25 million through ticket sales. But he would post a lot. And I mean, I think the gimmick is sometimes overdone a little bit, but his audience interactions, again, not for everyone, but I think that people started buying tickets to his shows in the hopes of being a part of his next viral TikTok. Yes. It kind of broke the fourth wall, and it incentivized people to go to his shows because they wanted to be the one that was a part of his next viral video because he had an interaction with them in the audience. So I think he kind of cracked a code, or sorry. Yeah, he cracked this viral code where there was now an incentive for people to actually physically show up and watch him. That's

    Michael Jamin:

    So interesting. But was he doing crowd work? Was he talking to the audience or was it something else? Was it comedy that he was doing?

    Coco Mocoe:

    No, I think it was. I think he does also just post his comedy clips, but for whatever reason, his crowd work goes so viral. And I mean, again, I do think sometimes it does get old. You can tell so many. And I mean, I'm not hating shtick. I think it's cool, but maybe because what I do for a living and I just study these things, I feel like I can tell when comedians come up on my feed now and they're kind of trying to recreate that. It's like a trend. They're trying to be trendy and recreate that success. And some it works, some it doesn't. But yeah, he kind of incentivized people to come to the show, then they'd be a part of his videos.

    Michael Jamin:

    Interesting. And that's hitting on something else, which is it doesn't seem like actors, people, actors who are already famous, they don't seem to do well, or am I wrong about that

    Coco Mocoe:

    On TikTok? No, I think you're right. I actually talked with Molly about this today and why specifically a-list? Celebrities seem to kind of struggle, I think, on TikTok. And one, I also think, even though my whole thing is I give advice on how to grow on apps like TikTok, I'm like, not everyone needs to be on TikTok. It's okay. It's not for everyone. I think some bigger celebrities benefit from being mysterious and not really being on social media, but the ones that do try, I think sometimes there is this feeling of detachment where when you're so big and you have a big team around you, by the time you come up with an idea, you get it approved, you go through whatever they, the label, the this, the that. And then you post the video. The trend is already two weeks old. So the people that are really quick on their feet that are a little bit more scrappy are the ones who I think thrive on apps like TikTok, because TikTok just moves so quick. I don't think, but

    Michael Jamin:

    That's the thing, I, I've never once done a trend and I don't think I ever will.

    Coco Mocoe:

    And what's so funny, I'm the same exact way. And it's funny that I talk about trends you'll never see. I did one it at the YouTube studio, the two girl, but you'll never see me doing trending audios. And it's so funny that I talk about trends, but my belief is that really the people that thrive don't pay attention to trends at all. I always say the opposite of trendy is timeless. And if you tie yourself to a trend and that becomes your identity, when that audio or that trend isn't big in two or three weeks from now, you're done. But I love creator. I think that's why experts really thrive on TikTok because they're providing so much value that they don't really have to rely on gimmicks and trends to be relevant. Or even if they're not relevant, they're providing value that people are going to seek out and eventually find them.

    Yeah. So yeah, I am the same way. I don't really believe in, my biggest pet peeve is when I would go into consulting meetings with huge brands and they're like, what trending audio should we lip sync to? I'm like, you shouldn't think like that. Also, FTC guidelines, technically you can't because of legal problems. But I just think that, I always say going viral is that's a low goal. I think it aiming low as a goal. You should think of being bigger than virality. You should think of providing so much value that it doesn't matter whether you're focused on trends or not. You live longer than that online.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm skipping around here, but years ago, not even that many years ago, I was on a TV show, I dunno, less than 10, maybe eight years ago. And we needed to cast a role. We went for an actor, and the studio wanted us to go out to someone who had a big social media following. That's who they wanted to cast. So we found this guy, this kid with a big following. We were going to pay him a lot of money per episode, and he kept on turning it down because he was making more money posting Instagram than he was whenever that was. It was like 20,000 in an episode or something. It wasn't worth his time.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. I mean, yes. That's interesting. That does make me think. I talked recently to this really big agent. He manages the Emilios, his name is Greg Goodfried, and something he said to me was the reason that the Emilio signed to him when they were looking for every agent in the game was cutthroat going for the Emilios. I remember this, I was filming videos with them at the time when they were coming into the office, and they were behind the scenes, I think, figuring out who they were going to sign with. And what Greg said to them was, it's not about what you do, it's about what you don't do, and you're going to get so many offers. But in terms of the show that you were saying, one, I'm also guessing that if he felt like he didn't have the acting chops, I don't know if that's what it was, the money would not be worth how it could potentially affect his career. I don't know if he was going into acting, he might've felt that yes, it was money, but if he felt like he wasn't prepared yet, again, if you're not a classically, acting is hard.

    Michael Jamin:

    He was actually a pretty good actor. Maybe he thought that the show was going to put a stink on him. Maybe being associated with the show would've hurt his Instagram maybe, or

    Coco Mocoe:

    I mean, yeah. And there's just so many factors. He also maybe could have just been making so much money that it was just not social media. And the money on social media happens in such short spurts. You never know when a well is going to dry up. On YouTube, years ago, there was this apocalypse where people were making $300,000 a month, and then it dropped to $5,000 a month, and all these craters were scrambling. So you never know. And so I think some people, when they hit a stride, they don't want to get detracted from that. But I also think sometimes it's good to not always worry about money and think about the bigger picture. I mean, I just turned down a pretty big deal because I was like, it just didn't make sense for me, and I really had to trust that I know the bigger picture here. And even if I'm making less money in the next six months, that I know that down the line, the vision will be bigger than what I would've ever made.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, that's a good segue. So two things. Are you represented by an agent?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I guess it's like a talent manager. I know agents are a little different, but Alright.

    Michael Jamin:

    So managers to, what is your larger picture, as you mentioned?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, I am flexible. I don't always know. I always say I don't really want to be in the public eye for long. I think a couple of years. And then I mean you, I'd love to write a book. I would love if I could write a book. And then I think long-term, I'll probably be what I'm doing now. And part of why I signed with the specific agent that I have now is when I was blowing up and I was getting a few offers, what he said to me was, you don't even really have to do a ton of brand deals. I think that you don't even have to gain another follower, but you could have a great career being a speaker and going to events. And that's really panned out. So I think maybe doing something like that, speaking engagements. I love my podcast. I could see that going for another five to 10 years if I'm lucky. You never know. But ultimately I would love to just write a book and then write off into the sunset. But I know it's not that easy. So I don't know. I will say though, I don't really like being a public figure. Again. I say I don't really think I'm that interesting. I think what I talk about is interesting. So I'd love to eventually pull back one day.

    Michael Jamin:

    So is this agent or manager, is that what they do for you to get you public speaking gigs? Is that what they, their goal?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. Yeah, all of it. So they do speaking engagements. I went to Adweek in New York. I went to Cannes Lion in France this summer. It was so great. And then brand deals, they're my day-to-day manager. So I meet with them and his team and constantly texting and emailing. And they also help me facilitate my consulting and stuff. I hate dealing with the conversations around money and contracts, and they're ones that step in and do all of that for me. And then I just show up for the meetings and give them my advice, and then that's all I have to deal with.

    Michael Jamin:

    And so what is it about, this will wrap it up, because this is a big question though. Being in the public eye, especially on TikTok, especially putting yourself vulnerable out there. They're haters, they're lunatics. Is this part of the problem?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I mean, sometimes, yeah. I've even recently just started replying to a few comments just because I want people to know that there's a real human, when you tell someone to go off themselves, there's an actual, I think people, it's crazy. I think that people see a video and it's hard for them to think that this isn't a one dimensional cardboard cutout. This is a real person. So yeah, I mean, sometimes it is the comments, the negativity. I think that ultimately though, if you know who you are that will shine through, you'll have mistakes and you'll have missteps and you'll have moments. But if you know kind of who you are and where you're headed, you'll always be okay. But I think more so for me, it's that I am really a big believer that going viral online can be a type of trauma. It can open up a lot of doors, but I think that it's really something that not a lot of people are prepared for.

    I think we see it with bigger celebrities that get famous young, the notion that sometimes fame is a type of trauma, yet everyone wants it. And so I think that being visible, no one, our human brains haven't evolved to processing, being seen by 20,000 people a day. We were used to having the 10 people in our little community in the middle of nowhere, and it's different. So I think there's just no understanding or process yet for really knowing what's happening. And it's traumatic and it can be scary. I mean, I love it. I think I'm good at tuning it out. I think it's so much better when you get famous or you get a viral moment when you're older. I think that I'm sure for us it's a little bit easier. I couldn't imagine being 16 and your frontal cortex is still developing. Well,

    Michael Jamin:

    What happened when you responded to that person said, Hey, I'm a real person. Did you get the response that you were hoping to get?

    Coco Mocoe:

    I mean, yeah. The best is when they delete the comment, just like I think they realized, but it's not even for the person who even left the comment. I more so do it too every, and not all the time I don't read. I got really good advice from a creator once. They said, once your video's been up for an hour or two, don't read the comments because it's not really going to be the people. You're on the for you page when you get your first hate comment. But I guess it's also just me kind of sending the message to other people that are leaving me comments, that I'm reading them and I see them. It's just always an effort to humanize myself. But I mean, it's hard. I feel like there's no right or wrong way. I think that the most successful people are the ones that just don't really care. And I envy that about some people. They just don't. I'm like, wow, that's so cool.

    Michael Jamin:

    Even for me, it affects me. So that's why I don't even the problems, I won't respond. Someone left a comment once a year ago or whatever, they left a question and then someone else commented, oh, don't bother asking this guy a question. He only responds to haters. And I thought, that's what I'm doing. I go, that's what I'm doing. And the person was right. I was only responding. I was rewarding the idiots. And so after that, I go, well, now I'm done. I'm not responding to anybody unless it's in a post. I'm not responding to anyone.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Oh, yeah. I mean, I really try the first hour to respond to a lot of the positive comments or if people are making, if they have good questions. And also if someone has a valid critique of my video, sometimes I'm not always going to get it right. And that's okay. And I'll reply. Thank you. You're right. I get that point too. So for me, I do try to, again, I think of it as that lecture hall where the first few people that are really reaching out and leaving thoughtful comments, it's someone who is like, you're in the lecture and they raise their hand, or they're a student who came up and they were so excited about what you were saying that they wanted to have that moment with you. And I mean, I think I'm really lucky though, in that I think my following is really, really intelligent. I think that the people that follow me are really thoughtful, and I'm very lucky that there's usually very thoughtful discussions in my comments as well.

    Michael Jamin:

    But see, I struggle with that. I was like, am I supposed to be accessible or not accessible? Who am I supposed to be on this?

    Coco Mocoe:

    And there's no, there's no yes or no answer. Some days you'll be more accessible and some days, some months, whatever you'll pull back. I think just really taking it based on your mood or where you're at. I think the biggest misconception I see with public figures and also creators is they feel like they have to make a decision, and then that's who they are. I get that a lot with authenticity and what do I reveal about myself and am I revealing too much? Am I not revealing enough? And I'm like, you don't have to make that decision in a boardroom one day. One day you're going to be more vulnerable. One day you're going to be, no one can find you. You're off the grid.

    Michael Jamin:

    But I don't know, the common knowledge is you're supposed to respond for the algorithm. But then I was like, if I'm working for the algorithm doing this, I'm out. The minute I start working the algorithm, I don't want to do it anymore.

    Coco Mocoe:

    And that's a very fair game. I totally get that sentiment. I know you'd said it earlier too, which is at what point are we just free employees to TikTok? And I agree, and that's why I think that the only way it really is beneficial is if you're always, again, there's just something bigger that you're striving for than TikTok, like feeding people to a podcast. And again, you don't want to always ask people to go and do something. There's a rule in marketing, it's called the 80 20 rule where 80% of your content should just be adding value, and then 20% is asking people to go buy a book or go to your pod. But yeah, I guess there's no right or wrong answer.

    Michael Jamin:

    I think there's something as we wrap it up, I think there's something smart that I learned. I think you said it, I'm trying to remember. I'm pretty sure you said it, and we'll talk a little bit about this. It was about, I think you, I'm sorry if it wasn't you. It was like you read some study that said part of what's the appeal of social media today is that people see you and it's this frequency with which they see you and then they fall in love with there are programmed like who we see all the time.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes. So there's a book called Fan Chasm, and it was Yes. And they basically studied the science behind parasocial relationships, which again, that's a buzzword that I feel like people throw around, but we don't even really understand it completely yet. And yeah, that's essentially what they said. And I guess we'll end on that note, so fascinating, but that the humans, and again, I'm not a psychologist, not claiming to be just my interpretation of this book, they essentially theorized that humans were programmed to bond with the faces that we see most often because that depended on our survival. So back when we were in small communities hunting bears, you had to make sure that you bonded with the person who caught the bear or else you weren't going to eat that week. And so we do it even subconsciously, but what's happening now with the internet and media, and we saw it in the early rise of celebrities as well, but that there's a disconnect happening where we see Taylor Swift's face more than we see our own boss's face or our mom's face, or sometimes even our roommate's face, whatever it is, because we're on our phones more than we're having conversations, we're seeing certain celebrities or creators faces more and more.

    And so we're subconsciously forming a closer and more loyal attachment to these people than we are to the ones in our own lives. And that's why we will become very fiercely. You'll see people really defend creators or celebrities because they feel like their survival depends on this person being okay and successful and being able to go catch the bear in the woods.

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you go that far as to think that their survival, I mean, that's a little much.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Exactly. And it doesn't their survival, but their brain thinks it does because it's like, again, not a psychologist, but the theory was that our brain truly is forcing bonds with the face that we see most often. We don't want to get kicked out of the tribe or whenever we were cavemen. We don't want to be the one that pisses off the leader and then has to be ousted so that when we see creators and stuff online, we want to leave the comment that impresses them. We want to be the person that likes their stuff first. We want to be the person that is noticed, and we put those relationships subconsciously on a higher pedestal than the people in our real life sometimes. But I think one way to it is just being conscious of that, just learning that that's happening. I always say to people, be critical of everyone you follow. Be critical of me. I'm going to make mistakes. Don't put anyone on a pedestal. You never know. And always let yourself have your own opinion and question everything that you see.

    Michael Jamin:

    You must be getting recognized out in the world now.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah, and what's so funny, I get recognized the most by business people if I'm at conferences and stuff, or they're just the ones that are more confident to come up to me. But yeah, I mean, I do get recognized probably a couple times a week. Now what about you? I feel like you must get recognized.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't leave my house, but when I do, on the rare occasion that I do, yeah, I sometimes do, and I ask myself this question, it's very strange thing. We talk about parasocial relationships afterwards. I'm saying to myself, did I give you what you wanted? Was I hope you wanted? Was I who you hoped I was?

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yes, I am the same way. I weirdly am so afraid of disappointing someone. I've had moments like that where working on the back end of the industry, before I ever had an account, I would have interactions with people. And I never, I was very lucky. I never had a bad interaction, but sometimes it just wasn't what I thought it would be. And being very, and again, it's like, but I didn't know why I was a stranger to them. But yeah, I'm always conscious, even if I'm just ordering coffee, sometimes I feel like there's a certain look that people will give. You know what I mean? It's like can't only other creators who have experienced it, know what I mean? I'm like, there's just a look where it's like they might not know my name or know where they knew me from, but they just recognize me in some way. And I never would want to, even whether they recognize me or not, I just never would want to leave someone with a bad experience. But now I know that there's stakes involved where I would never want someone to see my video in the future and be like, oh, she was mean to me at Starbucks one day. I'm always conscious of that.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. The weird thing is it forces you to be a better person in public. I think so. And that in turn makes you a better person. You, you've be putting it on. So what now you're a better person regardless of whether you're acting or not. You're still a better person

    Coco Mocoe:

    Regardless of the intention. Yeah. It just makes you more conscious. And I think when you're aware of yourself, you do want to act better if you're always striving for better. But yeah. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's a weird thing. And I don't think either of us would say we're famous, but we are recognized somehow sometimes.

    Coco Mocoe:

    Yeah. It's crazy.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Coco Mocoe, thank you so much. Thank you. I'm going to encourage everyone who listens to my podcast and follow me. Just follow her. If your intention is to become, make it in Hollywood, whatever or not, but you're going to have to put yourself out there, and it's a good starting point. Social media, TikTok, Instagram, whatever, to just work on what it is. Put yourself out there and be willing to evolve. And Coco Moko, she'll just tell you what's going on and it'll just spark ideas in your head and you go, oh, maybe I'll try that. So you're just a wonderful resource for people. So myself included, because turned to you for help. Thank

    Coco Mocoe:

    You. Yeah, I mean, I just loved all your videos about just you talking about writing, and then you're so informative during the strike and stuff. And I think you're such a great resource too. So I love your videos.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, thank you so much. Don't go anywhere. I say hang on. And then thank everyone. Thank my audience. Thank you. The listeners. I got more great people lined up. So thank you so much for listening. Until next week, keep putting yourself out there. Okay, thanks.

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

    1h 13m | Dec 6, 2023
  • 109 - Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick

    On this week's episode, I have Writer/Showrunner Max Mutchnick from Will & Grace, The Wonder Years, and many many more. Tune in as we talk about his journey as a writer and what some of his creative goals and hopes are for the future.


    Show Notes

    Max Mutchnick on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0616083/

    Max Mutchnick on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxmutchnick/?hl=en

    Max Mutchnick on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaxMutchnick

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

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

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

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Max Mutchnick:

    By the way, I think Miley Cyrus is the only sitcom actor who is able to move the needle. They push you during sweeps. Can you get a Shatner? If we could get Shatner on Big Bang. I know we'll write, that's probably not a good example because it probably worked. But for the most part, shows just get what they get. They always get what they get. It doesn't matter. These co-stars and these, none of that mattered,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right?

    Max Mutchnick:

    Is it funny? And do you like the people? Do you like the people? Do you like what? They like the world of it?

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to, what the Hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm talking about creativity. I'm talking about writing, and I'm talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

    Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode. Today, I have a wonderful guest that no one deserves to hear. And yet, as a gift, if you're driving your car, pull over, you're going to want to hear this guy, this man and his writing partner, they are responsible for literally one of the biggest hits in the modern era. I'm talking about Will and Grace. This is the co-creator of Will and Grace Max. Much Nick, but lemme tell you what else he's done. All right. It's not just that. I'm going to run through his profile for a second and then I promise I'll let him get a word in edgewise. One word's Dennis Miller show. He was right around the Dennis Miller Show, the Wonder Years Good advice, the single Guy Dream on co-creator of Boston Common Co-creator of Good Morning, Miami Co-creator of Twins, co-creator of Four Kings. This guy's got a lot of work done. Shit, my dad says. Co-creator, partners co-Creator clipped, co-creator, and of course Will and Grace Max, welcome to the show. And let me tell you why this is so meaningful to me to have you here

    Max Mutchnick:

    And me too, just to get an award in.

    Michael Jamin:

    Okay? I wonder if,

    Max Mutchnick:

    And by the way, those credits were in no particular order.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, it is the IMDB order.

    Max Mutchnick:

    It's a weird order, but I'm still thrilled to be here. So I'm going to let you keep going because I like all this.

    Michael Jamin:

    Everyone loves having smoked Blunt.

    Max Mutchnick:

    It's fantastic.

    Michael Jamin:

    Let me tell you why it's so meaningful, because one of the very first jobs I had in Hollywood, I was a PA on a show called Hearts of Fire a max, and his partner writing partner David, were, I don't know if you guys were staff writers or story editors,

    Max Mutchnick:

    I think on Hearts of Fire, we were staff writers. I think we were staff writers. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    So I'd get you lunch. That's basically it. But you guys were, you guys were so kind. You always let me in. I come into your office, you'd invite me into your office, which to me felt like a big deal. And you guys were both, to me, you were the epitome of what a comedy writer is supposed to be like larger than life, charismatic, funny, ball busting, but also just, I don't know, just energetic and enthusiastic and bursting with creativity and to be around you guys three

    Max Mutchnick:

    Seconds away from tears at all times.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Oh yeah, that

    Max Mutchnick:

    Too. But I mean, we maybe didn't show that to you, but again, I hate to interrupt you when you're saying all this nice stuff.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, I do remember one time, David, I was sitting with you and he's like, what have you heard? I'm like, what have I heard? What do you hear? I'm like, dude, you guys are the only people who talk to me. What have I heard? Nothing.

    Max Mutchnick:

    That's so good. What have I heard? And I was listening to you, and by the way, it gives me nothing but joy to be here, and I have to do full disclosure. So I start watching you and listening to you, and this is what happens when you get to be 40 57. I said, I'm like, I know him. I have a feeling of love for him. I do not know how we know each other. It's so funny. I couldn't remember the show that we worked on. I couldn't remember the show we worked on. And then I heard you talking about Mike and Maddie. Yes. The other day. And it was, which isn't on my IMDB page.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is. I skipped over it. I didn't want to embarrass

    Max Mutchnick:

    You. Yeah, no, I'm glad that we can talk about that too. But it all started at Hearts of Fire.

    I mean, it's just unbelievable. And that was such an incredibly formative time, and it's so interesting to me that you had this experience of us is mean, and by and large, that's what we are. I mean, I always look back on life and I reflect on it, and I'm always happy when I look back on the things that I've done and where I've been and where I'm going and all that stuff. But today, not so much. What do you mean? Well, it's like I'm saying, when I'm in the moment of today, a lot of times I really can get wrapped up in being depressed about the business and where things are. And I am starting to say things that like old people say, and I don't want to, because I always thought I would never do that. I would never say the business isn't like it used to be. But I'm

    Michael Jamin:

    Surprised you even feel that way. You've already accomplished so much. I don't think I would ever get to your level of success. I would've stopped long before.

    Max Mutchnick:

    I mean, that's nice. And I know that there are people who are in my position who feel like they've done it. And definitely the collision of a career and social justice, which kind of took place with Will and Grace, the idea that we did this thing and that it had a reverberation on another level should be enough. But I am still a guy with ambition and drive, and I still feel like I have more to say, and I'm not spoiled in that sense. I really don't want to be done at this age. And if anything, my ego is in a better place because I can even fantasize about the idea of being in a room that I wasn't running, which is crazy because that's in the middle of my career when it's at that really hot space. It's like, oh no, I could never be in a room that I wasn't in charge of. But that's not how I feel so much. But the

    Michael Jamin:

    Hours are so long and exhausting and you're like, sure, I'll work till two in the morning every night. Well,

    Max Mutchnick:

    I couldn't. That's the one thing I would don't feel like that is something that ever needs to be the case. I'm way into having dinner with my family, and I feel like it's after 10:00 PM it's diminishing returns. I actually think after 8:00 PM it's diminishing returns because emotionally you get so your skin starts to break out. You're eating out of styrofoam, and it's just not, it's so bad for where you are. You have to just love the fucking show you're on. Can I say bad word? You

    Michael Jamin:

    Can say, sure. You can say show.

    Max Mutchnick:

    You have to love where you are so much to be working late or own. But

    Michael Jamin:

    How did you keep, were the hours good on Will and Grace?

    Max Mutchnick:

    Yes. Because we've run a meritocracy and we always have, and that is the best idea will out. So I don't care if it comes from a LB like Michael Jamin or if it comes from John Acquaintance, wherever the best idea and wherever the most honest idea that's organic to the characters comes, and that's the one we're going with. And I'm very, I think one of the things you master or you have to master to be a showrunner that works well and runs a tight ship is the ability to say no quickly and without a lot of ting. So I'm going to say no, and I'm going to say it quickly, and it's going to feel like it hits you hard, and maybe it does. But in order for us to run a tight ship, that's just the way that it has to go. Famously, one of the best showrunners of all time, David Crane, I guess really, it was very democratic and everybody got to talk and pitch, and he didn't cut things off fast. I mean, sometimes there's a German there and you've got to find it and tease it out and stuff like that. But for the most part, immediately, no, that's not the way that we're going. And no, that's not the way the character.

    Michael Jamin:

    And they had long hours in that show,

    Max Mutchnick:

    Very, very long hours. They famously worked really late. And I was also listening to you the other day talk about those schools of,

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's what I was going to get to.

    Max Mutchnick:

    Yeah. And you could say that you talked about, there's the Friends school. I think there's also the Diane English strain. Did you mention that one?

    Michael Jamin:

    No, I did. I only really mentioned the one that I thought I came from, I think I came from, which was Frazier. Cheers Taxi. Right.

    Max Mutchnick:

    And I call that that's the David Lloyd's, I mean,

    Michael Jamin:

    And Chris Lloyd, yeah. Okay. What would you say your lineage would be then? And do you agree with that?

    Max Mutchnick:

    Yes, I did. I agreed with everything you said. I mean, my lineage is actually, it's a must see TV sound. It's an NBC, it comes down, but that's really the friend sound. And I come from that because my first real job was on Dream on which Martin David created. And then I came in late. David and I came in late on that show, but I also come from the Diane English School because Michael Patrick King was such a giant influence in my sound,

    Michael Jamin:

    And that was good advice or what

    Max Mutchnick:

    Good advice. But he had come from Murphy Brown. Right, of course. So if you worked at Murphy Brown, you prayed at the altar and English. I mean, but those friends people, they just spawned so much, so

    Michael Jamin:

    Much. But you don't run the show the way they did, though.

    Max Mutchnick:

    Not at all. No, not at all. Yeah. We learned as much on shows from what not to do than from what to do. The benefit of being on shows where there, it's just, and I'm not using David Crane as an example because I've never been in a room with him, but we have been in rooms where either we weren't used or there was just endless talk that went absolutely nowhere and the decisions weren't made to just, that's good. That's it. Put it up on the board. You can get there very fast and not like there is a famous school that I don't want to talk about that it's good enough. It's good enough. It's good. Enough's not what I'm talking about. I don't do, it's good enough. But there is a world of shows that's run with that ethos.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, I thought one of the first, the advice that we got when we started running shows was I think it was Steve Levitan who said, just pick away, even if it's wrong, pick away. Yes. Or you lose the room.

    Max Mutchnick:

    Yes. I mean, it's like you can fu around forever about, oh, what you want to do with your life. I don't necessarily know that this was what I was going to do, but it happened and I went for it, and I got rewarded at a certain point. I feel like if you get rewarded in something that you're doing within six months to 12 months, stay there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Were you running a show that wasn't your own, it was your first job at, or No,

    Max Mutchnick:

    I'm I'm rare. I'm rare in that regard that I