Shonda Rhimes Masterclass: Learn Television Writing from the Creator of Scandal

shonda rhimes masterclass

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she was so nervous she had to start over, twice. Since then Shonda has created and produced television’s biggest hits. In this class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, be a showrunner, and build your career. You’ll also get her pilot scripts, pitch notes, and story bibles. Welcome to Shondaland.

The internationally respected Shonda Rhimes, whose TV credits include ABC Studios’ Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch

In 5+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television. Watch, listen and learn as Shonda teaches you how to write, pitch, and create a hit TV show.

You can ENROLL in the course now to this game-changing television writing course. Click here to gain access

Shonda Rhimes Masterclass: Learn Television Writing from the creator of Scandal is priced at $90 and includes: 

  • Shonda Rhimes teaches you his unique approach to television writing in over 5+ hours of lessons (10 Videos)
  • Interactive exercises
  • A 15-page downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
  • Lifetime access, with classes that never expires
  • Learning materials and workbooks
  • Accessible from any device
  • Watch, listen, and learn as Shonda teaches his most comprehensive tennis class ever.
  • Office Hours: Upload work to get feedback from the class. Shonda Rhimes will also critique select student work.

If this class is anything like past Masterclass’ you are in for a treat.

Screenwriting/Filmmaking MasterClasses:

BONUS: Shonda Rhimes Masterclass

Shonda Rhimes’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Keynote: Ms. Rhimes, MIPCOM 2016 Personality of the Year

Shonda Rhimes, creator and writer of groundbreaking hit shows and one of the most celebrated and influential producers in Hollywood, has been named MIPCOM 2016 Personality of the Year.

Shonda Rhimes at the 2015 Massachusetts Conference for Women

Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator and writer Shonda Rhimes spoke with New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,000 attendees at the 2015 MA Conference for Women in Boston on December 10, 2015.

Ms. Rhimes Delivers Dartmouth’s Commencement Speech

Shonda Rhimes ’91, the wildly successful television writer and producer, told the Dartmouth Class of 2014, “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.”

BPS 152: How to Get Into a Hollywood Writer’s Room with VJ Boyd

VJ Boyd, justified, S.W.A.T, television writer

Today on the show we have television writer and showrunner VJ Boyd. VJ is a producer and writer, best known for his work on the critically acclaimed  Justified (2010), the CBS smash hit S.W.A.T. (2017) and creator of Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector (2020).

Deputy Raylan Givens has his own, Wild West-style methods of upholding justice, putting him at odds with the criminals he hunts and with his bosses in the U.S. Marshals Service. And an incident prompts his reassignment to the Kentucky district where he grew up. The character is based on one created by author Elmore Leonard in several books and short stories.

If you ever wanted to know what it takes to get into a writer’s room this is the episode for you. Enjoy my conversation with VJ Boyd. 

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Vj Boyd, how you doing, Vj?

Vj Boyd 0:14
Hey, doing all right. Happy to be here Alex.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for being on the show, man. Before we get started, man, first of all, huge fan of justified like huge, huge fan, I watch I binge the entire series with my wife. So thank you for that.

Vj Boyd 0:29
Oh, yeah, thank you for like, that was my favorite job. And that well, that I probably had ever. That was a lot of fun. I learned a lot. And we had a lot of freedom on that show. Um, we didn't like it, when we would break an episode, it wasn't super tight, we kind of knew the basics of what was going to happen. So then when I went away to write it, I got to put in all my fun little idiosyncrasies. And we had a lot of fun with that show.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Yes. Cool. So we'll get we'll do a little deeper dive into that. But first, how did you get started in this ridiculous business?

Vj Boyd 1:02
Oh, well. Okay. So, you know, when I, when I was a kid, when I was 11, I got interested in writing, just as a hobby. And although you know, anyone, like as they're a kid or a teenager, you know, like anyone else who's interested in it, I certainly had dreams of, Oh, I could do this for a living and would daydream about that. But I didn't think that that was really within my reach. It was one of those things where well maybe like, like, my might win the lottery. And so I got a business degree. And I worked at IBM for a while in Dallas, where I grew up. And I started going to grad school, because I wasn't super happy working at IBM, it's fine place to work. I was in sales, but I started feeling like everyone around me was insane. And what I realized is, oh, no, no, they're not insane. It's that I think they're crazy, because they're liking what they're doing. And I hate what I'm doing. So it's just that I'm in the wrong place. They're not crazy. They're just enjoying their job. And I need to find what I enjoy. And so it was going to grad school and thinking that I would teach, thinking, Oh, if I teach, then I'll have more time to write, which is very stupid, which I quickly discovered, teachers don't have free time. It's not like they have all summer off. And so I then transition to Okay, well, I'll get my Master's in literature, and then maybe my PhD, and I'll teach at college, you know, because then, you know, it's adults, I don't have to worry about the responsibility of like taking care of like teenagers. And then I realized that, oh, adjunct professors don't make barely make a living wage, and no one really gets tenure anymore. So I'm still going to have to have a second job. And I still won't have time to write. And I had a professor at grad school, Tony Daniel, who's a novelist, and an editor at Bane books. And he was like, you have real talent. In screenwriting, you should try and do that for a living. And I was like, Yeah, but like, there's not really a career path. It's like you write a feature, and either sells or it doesn't. And then you spend another six months to a year writing a feature, and it sells or it doesn't, that seems very dangerous. And, and he was like, Well, my good friend, Mike Taylor writes on Battlestar Galactica, and says that in TV, there's kind of a career path, you can, you know, start in the mailroom, so to speak, and start as an assistant and, and work your way up. And that I started researching that. And that made sense to me, that was a thing that I could see, okay, I can see the steps to that. It doesn't feel like I'm just, I'm moving out to LA on a wing and a prayer, whatever. So I thought about for a little while. And honestly, it was like less than a year after Tony recommended, I should just pursue it, that I quit my job at IBM had to, like sell the BMW, you know, and because I was gonna end up like working for minimum wage in LA and I needed all that money, I cashed out my pension. My wife cashed out her pension. So kudos to her for being willing to do all that. So we'll use that savings moved to LA in 2008. It was right when the writer strike was ending, which was good timing, because, unfortunately, so many assistants at that time had had to leave LA, because there were no jobs because of the writer strike. And so I came in, right when the writer strike was ending, and I started cold calling looking for assistant jobs. Because I was like, Hey, I've got this savings. I'll start at the bottom. And I so I would look in the trades. It's like when a show would get picked up, I would find the number for the production company and call them and be like, Hey, can I send my resume I'm looking for assistant job. And one of these times the show the beast, which is Patrick Swayze, his last thing before he passed that that had just gotten picked up to series and so I called the number in if anyone remembers the Hollywood creative directory, because this was before everything was just on the this was before IMDb Pro and stuff. And I and so a guy answered Hello. And I was like Yeah, is this the the beast the writers room for the beast and it was just the cell phone if one of the producers and it was actually I just This guy, Stephen Pearl, who's become a friend of mine. And I actually last week visited in new in New Orleans. And he showed me around I never been to New Orleans. But anyway, so Stephen was like, No, this is my cell phone. I said, Hey, I'm looking for an assistant job. You know, is your writers room starting up? And he's like, I don't know, I'll call you back. And he actually did call me back and was like, Yeah, we actually we are starting up next week. We don't have any assistants come interview. And I can't i When interviewed with the job, I interviewed with Vincent Angel, who was one of the creators. And you've also seen in stuff, he's an actor, he always plays the other man in California. Keishon. He was like banging Dickov nice wife and a great guy, Vince. And so he interviewed me and hired me as the lowest level assistant, the writers pa so there's normally three tiers of assistant, I was the lowest one. And I was super lucky honestly, that everyone in that writers office was such a weirdo, because like I didn't like I was coming from a different world like a corporate world corporate world. I never worked in the show business I just moved to LA right there were like, it's a different culture. And so I just didn't quite I definitely made some missteps and everything but the fact that so, so many of like my bosses and the other writers are honestly such weirdos, one of the weirdest writers offices I've been in that I just fell through the cracks. It was like That's another weirdo. So it was a perfect spot for me. They were all super cool and read my stuff. And then when that show ended, I ended up I was out of work for like a year and the cold calling thing wasn't working and I was like, Man, did I just get lucky and I'm not gonna like is this man am I gonna have to like start working on set which is another way of going right you set PA and then and then you know network with the writers for the show and try to get in the writers office and I I wasn't ready to give up. I wasn't given up. But then this guy Keith Schreier, who I'd met on the beast. He was one of the other Assistants, he out of nowhere, I didn't even asked him. He was like, Hey, I found out that like Vince Gilligan is looking for assistance for the show Breaking Bad. And, and also Graham Yost is looking for assistance for this show called law man, which was what justified was first called? And I was like, yes, yes, please send my resume. And Keith not only sent my resume around, he actually fixed made my resume look better. He's like, Hey, can you send me the word version? Because I think you need to format it better. So I ended up getting a getting interview with Graham iOS to be his assistant. And I thought the interview went pretty well. And then he called me a week later and was like, Hey, man, so I decided to hire this other friend of mine. Tom Hanks assistant wants to transition into like, the writing world. So she's going to be my assistant. I'm sorry, but we do have this writer's pa job. It's the lowest level job. I know. You already did that. And I was like, yes, yes, I'll do it. Yes, please. Right. And at that point, by the way, I had never read Elmore Leonard before. I knew who Elmore Leonard was but I mostly honestly knew who Elmore Leonard was because Quentin Tarantino talks about them were laid off and and so I was like okay, so I read like the short story that justified was based on and the other two books Raylan Givens in his in because I was like, I know I'm the assistant but I was like, what if they like ask for pitches because you know, like sometimes you know, you the you know, sort of the last the assistant what they think and I want to be ready anyway. So I ended up writers PA on that first season. Going into second season, I was justified was on hiatus, I was working as the writers assistant on Falling Skies, which Graham was also running at that time season one. And while I was there, I was about to have my first kid so I was about to be in a position where if I don't get staff then I'm going to be staying home with the kids because my wife has a real job and an insurance company so I'm going to be like holding the kid and writing my next like scripts back here. And Graham found out Season Two justified was coming and I was thinking okay, maybe if I can somehow be moved from writer's PA to writer's assistant, then maybe then I'll get a freelance script, right like and then maybe the next season I can be a staff writer right. I'm thinking that so Graham offers all the writers their jobs back and one of the writers that the lowest level writer staff writer chose not to come back. So there's one spot up and Graham was like Graham hates like having to which I understand having done it now a few times having to interview like 2030 people know and Harlan turned a bunch of people down and and so he was like, he had read a couple of my scripts. And he was like, Do you want the job? And I was like guess that'd be obviously what the job is. So I was able to like jump over those extra two years that you often have to do of being the Interim Assistant and then and then being and then getting a freelance and then finally getting staff writer so I went right from writers, PA to staff writer and very very lucky, but I always say that I was prepared for the opportunity, you know, because like when Graham said he'd read my stuff, I had a lot of quality pilots that I felt comfortable giving him, you know, and, and I should also add, I always think this is funny, I gave him two scripts, and one of them was a crime, procedural, and I was like, this is what he's gonna like. And I was like, I'll throw this sci fi one in as well. Because like a sci fi script for justify that. And, but the crime, procedural he didn't like, and he ended up I found out this later, he gave the Sci Fi script to his assistant, and was like, Yeah, tell me if I should even read this. And she was like, I really like this, you should read it. And he read it and really liked it. And if if she had said something different, or if I'd only given the crime, procedural, I wouldn't have gotten that job. Like, like, hopefully, something would happen eventually. But getting on justified, which ended up being a really well respected show. Yeah, and was a great show to learn. I mean, that was in a kept coming back huge for my career. You know, instead of keeping on what happens to so many people, you're on a show and it gets canceled. So you have to go on new show and he gets cancelled. It's and so it makes it hard to move up, and it hurts your resume. So

Alex Ferrari 11:14
Right. And, and what I I mean, I personally, I mean, I discover justify during the pandemic, and I just binge the entire

Vj Boyd 11:22
Oh, wow. So that's a very, that was a very interesting way to watch it. Like, honestly, I have not watched the whole series since I left the show. Yeah, I want to do that and see is it must be such an odd experience? Because for us, we're making it over the course of six years, right? Yes, of course. And so if you're watching all of it, you're going like straight from season one to two to three, you probably see those changes so much more clearly.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
Yeah, just the adjustments in tone sometimes in adjustments in just character. Yeah, I mean, but yeah, I mean, we found that we discovered it, cuz I always heard justify was a good show. I always heard about in the background, but like, you know, like everything else, there's 1000 Good shows. And there's people get busy. So like, what am I going to sit down? And like, really? So when we were looking down and my wife's like, hey, why don't we? Why don't we give justified a shot, Mike? All right, let's give it a shot here. It's great. Let's give it a shot. And it just we got hooked. And we're like, and we're really looking forward to hopefully the spin off. That is happening. I heard in the in the trades that they are going to come back somehow.

Vj Boyd 12:21
Yes, yeah, there's there is there we worked on that. Which by the way, that was awesome this year. So we did 20 weeks or something like that of a room for city primeval, the justified spin off. And it's one of those things where you never expect in this industry to end up working with the same group that you worked with in the past, like maybe one or two of the same people, sure the same group of people with with a couple of additions, because we had Walter Mosley in the room for a little while, who I knew from snowfall is awesome. And also Easter Davis, who's an actress and writer, so we had added them, but other than that it was the old crew. And it was it was very cool. So we'll see we have no shooting date yet. Because one of those things where they did a room, but they didn't commit to shooting it. And also like we have to like figure out, it's obviously a big deal to bring that back. And we want to do it right. So hopefully, we'll get the go ahead to shoot it this next year. But I like what we came up with.

Alex Ferrari 13:21
Well, I'm, I'm excited about that. And I always find it fascinating, you know, with writers and writers rooms, when you are writing in a writers room, and especially early on in that like season one and you start seeing what the actors are doing on set with your words, does the writers room start to adjust the tone the language to take advantage of the performance of that actor?

Vj Boyd 13:45
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And that honestly, I think that that is one of the advantages to the old way of doing things of you make a pilot, and then you get picked up and make the rest of the show. You know, I get the disadvantages of okay, we have to like make a whole pilot and then wait around to see if we get to make the rest I get that that everyone's kind of waiting around not getting paid and everything but once you start writing the rest of them, you know exactly how everyone talks and you can write to that if you use the the model that the streaming uses that Hulu Netflix Amazon use. Although Amazon sometimes makes pilots not so much anymore, but like Netflix, certainly you go in and you write them all right, all six, eight episodes, right? Then you go shoot them all, and you're you absolutely are going to end up rewriting stuff on the fly because you're like, Oh crap, this guy's really popping. Or oh, man, I wrote this character this way, but that's not quite the way they play it. Right. And and that's also one of the downsides of the streaming model of it's only a couple of the writers who remain through the shooting. Like you have the room for 20 weeks or so. But then it's just the creator and maybe one other producer there for the rest of the time. And you're absolutely going to end up like, like you're talking about rewriting for the actors. But no, it is a it totally changes. It totally changes things. Just being on set with the actors with the director, it changes the way you write things, because you've now had discussions with people who do these other jobs and you understand the way they think. Anyway, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 15:23
Yeah, I mean, cuz I mean, I'm just on a comedy standpoint, like I'm assuming for season of Big Bang theory when they start seeing Sheldon pop. I mean, I'm assuming that like, wait a minute, we didn't think this character was going to be the breakout, but let's start working or the friends crew. I mean, the friends writers room like that first season a friends

Vj Boyd 15:41
Or think about family matters.

Alex Ferrari 15:43
Oh, yeah. Oh, my God.

Vj Boyd 15:44

Alex Ferrari 15:45
Jesus. Can you imagine Sophia, like all of a sudden Sophia like, okay, she's poppin. We got to do something here and rework things. But yeah, I always find that fascinating on how writers will start. Because you don't get to do that in feature. You get into TV in the streaming, but you don't get to do that and feature all that

Vj Boyd 16:04
Although, although, yes, I mean, certainly big. I would say though, that the way big features are now they do so many reshoots, so many reach students that that I'm sure that I'm not as familiar with it, but I'm sure that sort of thing happens, where they'll watch a screening and be like, crap, like that character, write a subplot for that character and reshoot that and will delay the release for a couple of months or something. I'm sure that sort of thing happens not so much with like, indie film, but if you have the money or time to reshoot, like, I I know people who were producers on the new James Bond movie, and when they were shooting that like they were already shooting, obviously huge production, right huge. They were already shooting it. The script was not finished. Like they literally they had like 250 pages of script. And we're just shooting the scenes they knew we're going to stay Wow. What's your name from fleabag and love was was like whittling it down to what it was going to be? You know? So even with the big movies things change on the fly.

Alex Ferrari 17:11
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely no question. Now I always find it fascinating as well how to how writers in a writers room break a story so can you kind of go through the process at least in your in your experience how you approach you know as a showrunner but also as a as a writer in the writers room. Let's let's take it back to justify first season your your the second season, you're in the writers room now. How do you approach breaking a story? And what do you seeing around you?

Vj Boyd 17:41
With justified we had a lot of lead time because we were a cable show. So if you're on a broadcast show, like when I was on Swat, we would only have a couple months to like start writing and have lead time before we it was time to shoot. So we only had a little bit of time to blue sky or just brainstorm. Justified we had more like four months before we started to shoot if I remember correctly, so and we're doing fewer episodes only 13. So we would spend like the first three weeks, sometimes even a month, but the goal was always like two or three weeks, just sitting in the room and throwing out like anything that could possibly happen that we're interested in. You know, like we could be like I remember I remember season four. That was the season with Drew. What's it in the bag that was hidden in the wall and the guy who liked crash landed in the teaser lane? Yeah, we there was a there was we talked for two or three days about a version of season four, in which there is going to be a flashback story we were going to tell episode two episode about a Raelians dad and Boyd's dad doing crime back in the day. Like we started breaking that and then we abandon it after a couple days because we realized people aren't tuning in to see these guest actors play their dads and less so unless we're having Oliphant and and Goggins play their dads, which wouldn't work for Goggins, he doesn't look a thing like MC Gainey. Then we were gonna have to like abandon that idea. And so we would go down to various paths. So, like thinking about season two, we had just visited Harlan. For I think for the first time Yeah, cuz we didn't go before season one. So several of us went down to heart, the actual heartland. And Graham had a lot of specific ideas from having been in heartland and he wanted to do something in the world of weed. He knew he wanted to do something with a criminal matriarch. So we had those ideas that he had thrown out. And so then there's the eight of us or how many there were that season, and we're pitching Okay, well, the matriarch could be like this. And I don't remember who pitched it, but it could be like, it was like, Okay, what if she had these sons that Raila knew because that's the whole idea with justified right is He's going back to the place he's from. So running into people he knew or knew of or the know of him. That's a big part of the show. And we were like, Okay, what are the sons like, right? And so we started pitching on what they could be like, and, like, what we oftentimes will have, like actors that we will call them by like, oh, the Nick Milty character or the whatever, before we've given them names to kind of get in our head like who they are. And, like, I remember Season Two of justified there was, what was the oldest son's name because it was Coover and Dickey, and then the oldest son here. Yeah, I can't remember. But he cuz obviously Coover and Dickey kind of steal the show. But like, but like, I pitched like, he could be the sheriff. Like, he could be like a cop. Uh, yeah, like so that he has, there's some color of law. So it's law man against law, man. And that ended up sticking. So it's that sort of thing. And sometimes, again, we're always going down paths that we ended up like, okay, that doesn't work. Let's go down the other path. So anyway, the first, you know, three weeks to a month, we're just coming up with the big broad ideas. And as things land, we put them up there as tent poles for the season, like, well, maybe mid season, this kind of thing could happen right now. And by the end of the season, we want this sort of thing to happen. So then, after those three weeks or so, now, we're in the room, and it's time to make up what's going to happen actually in episode one, right? And so then we got to get more specific and we draw those columns on the board, like teaser, Act One, act two, blah, blah, blah. And we just again, we start pitching off sometimes chronologically, like, okay, like, first this then this and sometimes more like, Well, I think it could end with this, it very much. It's very much how, how one might imagine eight people sitting in a room making up a story, right? And, and then it is important and was justified. Graham was in there most of the time on some shows. The showrunner is not able to be in there all the time. And so you end up you're making up stuff, and then he'll come in for an hour and you pitch it to him. And then he'll fine tune it. But it was very helpful and justify the Graham was in there most of the time. So if we're going down a path he doesn't like he can immediately say, No, I don't like that. So we can go another direction. So we don't waste three hours on a thing that he's going to come in and say no to in like five minutes. So yeah, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 22:18
So the one thing I loved about the show and also being able to see it all at once in a binge was Boyd's character. Boyd is such a fantastic character because and for everyone listening, he was the he's the bad guy for some of it for some of the seasons. But yet, he's bad. Like, he's a he's not a nice guy. Like at all. There's there's very few redeemable things about them. But the way Goggins plays him is an absolute like he should win an Emmy every year for that show. I mean, it was so brilliantly performed, that towards the end, I started seeing it as I could start seeing it that I saw the writers were like, Wait a minute. Yeah, we can't, we can't kill him off. Like they're gonna get people gonna get pissed if Boyd is gone. And I think there was a moment I forgot what season it was where that kind of crossed over like you like, up until that point was the point. And that was the point of no return. Like, you know, what, if we want to kill him off, we could still kill him off, and we could keep moving forward. But there was a certain point where you pass you're like, yeah, there's no way and now he becomes almost Beloved. And he partners with Galen, and it's like, it was just like this. What that's the that was the engine that ran the show. For me, just watching those two characters constantly going back and forth. And the way it was just so brilliantly done, and that's very hard to pull off a character like that, like a bad guy like that with such depth and to make people feel love for him, even though they're, it's like the Hannibal Lecter thing. Like he eats people. He eats people and he's a cannibal, but yet he's charming as hell.

Vj Boyd 24:02
Yes. And I mean, with Boyd part of it is a huge part of his Waltons performance, you know, like he's so like, I love him and righteous gemstones, his baby belly, he's so amazing and righteous gemstones. If you haven't seen it, that's probably one of my favorite shows right now. But I like Walton is so charismatic. So that helps, but also, like, very early on in season one, you have you have Boyd actually questioning his own motivation. You know, when he has that scene where he's like, sitting there, like praying because he started this cult. Right? And he's like, he said, He's, like, all his guys get killed. And he's like, was I just talking to myself this whole time? And you realize, oh, he actually kind of buys his own bullshit, you know, and or It's not bullshit, or he or he really is trying to, it's like, so it makes you realize, oh, he doesn't, he's not a sociopath. Right? He buys into this new thing. He's into whatever that happens. To be right, and sometimes he knows it's partially a grift. But sometimes he's really he really believes in what he's doing. And so because you can see that he's not trying to scam you, the audience, then you're like with him. And you also you see him as sort of occasionally like a Robin Hood esque character where he's standing up for the hauler, and he's against these other guys who are worse guys, you know, guys like corals or whoever, right? And but yeah, like, we had a long conversation beginning of season six about how do we end the series? You know, are we like at the end of the series, is Boyd going to die is really going to die, they're both gonna die, are they both gonna live is boy gonna be in prison and, and we put all those permutations on the board and discuss them for days. And, and and, and Graham had really long conversations with John Landgraf an ethics about that, because he's very heavily involved in story for the shows, and I am very happy with how we I think we stuck the landing with how I agreed.

Alex Ferrari 26:07
I agreed because he and not gonna give any spoilers out for people who haven't seen the show, but there has to be some sort of payment because he did do some bad stuff.

Vj Boyd 26:16
Yeah, no, absolutely absolutely. And I think one thing that's interesting is in the pilot, Boyd kills that guy who's like, one of his like skinhead, guys whose driver, yeah, and he's like, and then lay. And then he says, To Dewey, or someone who's like, he, he's like, he killed him, because he suspected he had betrayed him. But also, he just didn't much like it. You know, and he killed a man, and he was wrong about it. And he didn't really seem to feel that much remorse about it. But then as the show and but as the show goes on. It's like, okay, he's the same guy, but the audience, I think, and sometimes I think even we forgot that he's the guy who just killed that dude in the car for no reason. You know, like, that's who he is. And we wanted to remind the audience and ourselves who he was. And that's why in the final season, he kills Shea Whigham his character, you know, in that truck when he may not have needed to, I mean, that's a call back to that pilot moment. And what's interesting is in talking to some fans of the show, they felt like, Oh, I like how you made Boyd really bad in the end, so that we might think, you know, we might think, Oh, he's gonna die. It's like he that is the same as the thing he did in the pilot. We didn't make him really bad. He's doing the same kind of thing. Just reminding people. Yes, yes. So I don't know if we completely landed what we were trying to do because we weren't trying to do we didn't want it to feel like this cheap on that will make him really evil. We felt like this is totally in his character to do. He has to survive. Shay Wiggum. My he doesn't know this guy if the same thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:50
No, and Boyd's care boys character I agreed with you. He he was even towards the end. He was who He was like, he didn't change. There's just so many shades of him. And you forget that he is the guy who killed that guy for just no apparent reason. It again, I'll go back to Hannibal is like you forget that he ate people and until we start seeing him eat people. Do you go through? Oh, oh, cuz at the beginning, he's just like, oh, that's just a lovely, lovely man whose happens to be behind bars is very eloquent. It's a little creepy, but generally we haven't. We've only heard of the things he's done, but we haven't seen it. And then when you see it, you're like, oh, oh, he's a cannibal. What does that say about me that I like him. And then and then at the end of Silence of the Lambs, what happens? You're like, I hope he eats that guy. Yes, that's brilliant. Right? That's brilliant writing Berlin performance. And anyone listening if you want to study a character, develop the character development through a series. Boyd is such a wonderful character to just study how you guys were able to the nuance of Boyd's character was, again, like there's moments you're just like, God, man, I want him to die. And other and other moments, you're like, I still like them. Like it was just you. And again, because I benched it. I got the full, the full, you're making me want to binge watch the show. It was a was a great experience, being able to binge it all because you, I mean, would go three, four or five episodes a day, you know, sometimes depending on the day of the pandemic, so we just, we just cook through seasons, and you just really get a taste of these characters. And that's why we fell in love with them. We're like, Oh, God, I hope that series, the spin off goes, I hope so too. Now, when you're in a writers room, especially now, what are some mistakes you see young writers make in the moment

Vj Boyd 29:49
Well, I'll say a couple of things. In one one is not so much a mistake, but a thing that I think young writers should keep in mind. That listen, I When I got my first actual writing job staff writer on season two of justified, I'd been in the room, you know, many times before subbing for the writers assistant, just sitting in if I didn't have pa duties to do, then I was the in room assistant on Falling Skies, like I've seen people pitch and all this stuff. And I was like, Okay, I'm prepared to pitch stuff, and then have it rejected, I'll be fine. But when you finally are the lowest level person, and you pitch your thing, and everyone's like, No, I don't think so. And everyone just clearly hates it. It's like, oh, it makes you feel like everyone thinks I'm an idiot. I'm not gonna pitch the rest of the day I suck. And it's like, you have to be you, no matter how prepared you think you are, you're not. And you got to have that sports mentality of like a cornerback, who got beat by for a touchdown. Forget it. Move on. No one's staring at you. If they are, they're a bad person, like, no, it's like that. They're they're moving on to the next story idea, you move on to the next story idea. I would say another thing that a mistake that I made, and this may just because of the way I think, or whatever, I kept early on pitching things, and they wouldn't land. And then 45 minutes later, someone would pitch basically the exact same thing, and it would land. And I was like, What am I doing wrong, that I pitched that 45 minutes ago. And what I realized is, when you're pitching a thing, people and this may seem obvious, but it's not when you're in this room of eight people throwing out ideas. When you when you say oh, they need to find the to find the guy in the bar. And that's where the guys hiding. You need to talk everyone through your thought process, how you got there. Because you've had this whole process, you're just blurting out things, you find them in the barn? And they're like, No, I don't think so. But then as they do that same thought process, they come to that same conclusion. So you need to talk through and say, you know, I was thinking, based on what, you know, Taylor said, since he's this kind of guy, and he did this last episode, I think he should be hiding in the bar, you got to talk people through that. And that was not, that's not an obvious thing, because you already have those thoughts. So you got to talk people through how you got there. And though, the other thing that I have seen, and like my brothers talked about having my brother's a TV writer, also, and he's talked about having seen, he's been on more shows than me, actually, because all these streaming shows are so short, even though he started several years later, but um, his people in their first job, or even second shot, like a low level of writers not taking no for an answer when your boss says no, you know, and it's like, yes, if you have an idea, and whoever is in charge of the room, then whether it's the number two, or whether it's the showrunner says, I don't think so. If you are 100% certain that this is the best idea ever. Maybe you say, Well, can I just maybe you say one more time, right? But you only get a couple of those. But if the boss says no, no, we're really not going to do it. Let it go. Let it go. You're not in charge. Like I think a lot of people have this idea. And I've even heard even upper level writers say it. Well, we're all going to come to something we all like, No, you're not sure what anyone saying. It is not best idea wins. It's the idea the showrunner likes, wins, you know, and so you can think whatever you want, it's like our best idea wins. No, like keep pitching the best idea that will appeal to your showrunner you are making your boss's show, you know, you're not making what in your mind is the best version of the show. You have to figure out what it what is it that your boss wants out of the show?

Alex Ferrari 33:34
And that's something that I think that's another thing that is talked a lot about in the business is the politics of the writers room, the politics of a show, and how to maneuver through that, because that's definitely not taught at film school. And just what you just said, that little bit of knowledge that's just like, look, it's not about like, this is not a democracy. This is this is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship. It is a creative dictatorship, and it is the showrunners job to you know, to to run the show. So are there any little other kind of landmines that you as a writer, if you're if you're lucky enough to get in those writers room or even as a PA or an assistant to kind of avoid in the in the political scheme of a writers room or have a show?

Vj Boyd 34:25
I think I would. So this is a really tough one. And I don't know what the solution is. But one to have in mind is because remember, I said that the showrunner, a lot of times isn't in the room, depending on the show, you know, they're in the room some but they have other things to do. They've got like two hour calls with an actor who has issues with a script, they have to be in post, they have to maybe be unset, etc. So oftentimes it's the number two who's in charge in the room, maybe the number three if the number two is rewriting people, and you have what you don't want to do is Let's say it's the number two or number three in charge in the room and you pitch a thing or have an idea that, you know, the showrunner would like, but you're told no, by the number two, you don't want to be the snake who's like when the showrunner comes in, I'll pitch it even. And that can be tough, because you might be totally right. You know, the showrunner would like that. But if you're, if you are going to do that, you need to like, ask the number two or number three, hey, I know you said no to this. Do you mind if I just pitch it to the boss? You know, don't just surprise them? Because I know people who've done that, and that, doesn't it? Listen, it's a small world out here. Travels, you're not gonna lie, it's gonna be tough to get another job. If you're if you're that guy. I would, but at the same time, remember who it is? Who has the power to advance your career and who it is, like we said a minute ago whose vision it is. So again, like maybe it once you get to know everybody, if it's like, Man, I know that number two is gonna look nothing like this idea. I know the showrunner is just don't even pitch it to the showrunners in there, like that's a fix. You know, instead of like creating like a conflict with the number two and being disrespectful to them. But also, like, sometimes, you're going to get if you're a staff writer, everyone outranks you. So sometimes you're going to get like, supervising producer or a co EP who's going to give you certain advice, like, oh, you know what you need to, you need to like pitch more, or you need to pitch less or whatever. You take that with a grain of salt, always unless it's coming from the person in charge, you know, because I've known people in situations where they were given this advice by people above them. And it turned out that was not what the showrunner wanted, you know. So just like with any other business, I think it helped me out a lot that I had been at IBM, honestly, for, like six years. So I've been in this corporate environment of ask of like, asking for feedback, and saying, How did I do you like, like, have those conversations? You know, and I think that that would be just being upfront and having those conversations is a huge help, politically, if you're not a person who's naturally politically savvy, you know, which a lot of writers aren't necessarily, there's so many things that go into TV writing, especially if you're like, a producer, you know, because if there's like writing, but then there's also politics, there's also management, there's also there's so many things that go into it, and not everyone's going to be good at all those things.

Alex Ferrari 37:31
Yeah, there's, there's forces that you don't even see that the show might be under, and the production might be under and the stress the stress of that. I mean, I can imagine being in the room, I worked in TV for a few minutes, early in my career as a PA and worked in the in the office and stuff. And I would see the pressure, like are we going to get picked up? And you could see the whole production is like, wow, why even bother? If we're not going to get picked up? That whole energy it gets it gets really weird. And these are things that you don't see, and especially when you're young, or when you're just starting out, you don't get you don't really understand the scope of what's going on. Like I got great. I've got a great story. This Pa was so amazing. I was on a show on Fox was one of the first shows I was on. And the first part the first episode finally airs. And the the one of the off of the head office ba takes all the reviews of the show and paste them on the wall. They were all bad reviews. So he like I don't even know what she was thinking. She put them all up and they were like all bad reviews. So then the showrunner shows up, reads them has a complete meltdown, goes into the room breaks down the friggin EP has to come in and like the producer has to come in and just like try to talk him off the ledge. And like I saw I was just first front row seat on like, what do you like? Just she got her ass handed to her.

Vj Boyd 38:59
That is so weird.

Alex Ferrari 39:01
It was so weird. Because she wouldn't she meant well, she met well, she's like,

Vj Boyd 39:05
She didn't read them. Some reviews.

Alex Ferrari 39:07
Here's the reviews from the, from the LA Times in from, you know, from variety. Let's put them all up and do it really bad. But that's it. She meant well. Yeah, but obviously these are kind of these I don't even know if she's still stuck. I don't think she stuck around very much. I think that might have been her last week.

Vj Boyd 39:29
Well and and has difficult to listen when you're first starting out. If you obviously you want the people above you to say read your stuff, right? Of course you know, but you it's tough to know when do I ask them? And so, honestly, you ask the people around you who've been doing it longer if there's an assistant on the show if let's say you're an assistant, if there's another assistant on the show who's been doing it a few months longer than you or who knows these people, ask them for advice. Ask the lower level writers who just got staff be like hey, when do you think is a good time for me to like ask them to read my stuff or like Like, make and make friends with all those people and let them read your stuff, you know, and because they'll they might be a staff writer now, but they'll be they'll have a show eventually. You know, I think that is one of the thing that let me let me throw out there that listen, you can absolutely succeed, being a very political animal who you know, flatters and sucks up to people that is a legitimate strategy. I know people, many people do it. I like it. It bothers me to this day when I think about even people I think are good people that I worked around when I was assistant or didn't matter as they say, you know, in LA, and it's like, you're having a conversation with this person in the lunchroom, let's say, you know, and then someone more important comes in. It is a Hollywood thing. I'm sure you've experienced it all the sudden, the conversation with you ins you do not exist anymore. And now it's time to talk to this EP who walked in. It is as if that conversation never happened. And that happened to me numerous times. And I at first I was super offended. And then I was like, I guess this is just how things work. But I You know what I remember I remember the people who never did that. I remember the people who were like, Okay, I know I'm talking to this pa who doesn't matter. But I'm going to finish that conversation before I like I'm not going to act as if royalty has walked in, you know, in the current scene. That's not to say you don't show respect to people who've earned it. I'm just saying, I would love to see a culture change where people just treat everyone like people. And I know that might be asking too much of Hollywood, but I'll throw it out there.

Alex Ferrari 41:33
It might it might be. It might. It might be a little much. I've I don't think that's gonna happen right now. But it is getting better. It is definitely getting better than where it was without question. But that's the thing in LA, you know, and by the way, I moved the exact same year you moved. I was thrilled. It's funny. It was three months prior to the collapse of financial. So I was lucky that I was able to skate right through all of that, thank God but I moved literally just a few months before before the

Vj Boyd 42:01
We were probably at the same coffee shops. Probably a lot of coffee shops.

Alex Ferrari 42:07
What part of town did you move into?

Vj Boyd 42:09
We were at Park LaBrea at first like so I would go to insomnia Cafe on Beverly and I would go to a lot of the normal spots literati and Santa Monica all those places I was

Alex Ferrari 42:20
I was over in Burbank so I was that was down the street from Universal and stuff so I was every Starbucks every coffee bean that was the one thing I don't know if you got the same experience the second I got I kept going to all these coffee shops and all I would see is laptops with Final Draft like Oh yeah, yeah everywhere everywhere everywhere.

Vj Boyd 42:39
Honestly, it depends on the day whether I like it or hate it

Alex Ferrari 42:44
It was just such a culture shock from coming from the East Coast when I when I moved now you also worked on SWAT which is completely very very different than justified because this is a procedural Now I always I always like to wanted to find out from you. When you want to watch procedures and I've watched a lot like I was a big big big fan of bones and and I would watch and that was another one we binge during the things I saw 13 seasons

Vj Boyd 43:12
That's a lot of a was a was with us about bones now like guys in general just

Alex Ferrari 43:17
Oh, I know way more than I should know about bones. But that was like, you know, a good three months of just like what are we watching tonight? Bones it is. So I but I was I always liked watching procedurals because there is an overarching arc of the characters. There's an overarching ARC of this the plot of the show of the season. And but things keep sticking in weekly, you know, the weekly order that we have, in this case of the week. Yeah, the case of the week. So how do you balance that in the writers room?

Vj Boyd 43:50
Yeah, so like with procedurals, like, before I had worked on one eye, definitely there was a little bit of an elitist vibe among those people like myself who were working on prestige cable procedures. And, but then once I worked on was like, oh my god, this is so difficult. It is its own, it is a whole other skill. It's not like like before I was working on one and I was like Okay, so the week Sure, how easy is that? You have to balance all this stuff. No, it is so difficult to keep the keep getting those fun character beats in there because people aren't watching it just for the mystery there. It's not like I'm a robot solving the mystery. They want these fun characters that they care about, you know, solving the mystery and for the it have ramifications on who the character is, and fitting that in along with an entire plot in the 42 minutes or whatever we have, because you still have to have that beginning, middle and end of a mystery of a case that week. You gotta have a client, you got the person that we're saving or like we're solving their mystery or whatever. And so that's a guest character who has to have an arc and you've got to have like little b stories. Relationship stories. And as you said, You've got to serve like maybe one or two beats of the overarching season long arc for for Hondo in the case of Swat. And I would just say it's a huge challenge I, it took me like half the first season of SWAT to really get a grip on it like fortunately there were a lot of people on that show who understood procedurals and could help me through that, but a big part of it. That is helpful. What's helpful for me is the way that Sean Ryan breaks TV, which is that he does not break sequentially. Like when you're putting up the teaser, Act One, act two, whatever, he doesn't do that first. The first thing we do is figure out okay, what's the a story? What's the mystery, this episode? And we just break that in a single line? Forget X. It's like what are the every single scene of the a story? Now? What's the B story? What's the relationship story? Or what's the who's our character who's learning something this episode like Luca is learning that he do we want to do a story where Luca learns that he actually doesn't want to be in a leadership position, you know, that he that he just pride that makes him want to do that he really is happy being like the wing man. Right, then. Okay, we're gonna break that story out separately on the board. You know, it's like separately of everything, no X or anything. Here are the scenes of that. And then is there a C story? That's the overall hundo arc like, okay, Hondo has taken on his friend, son as Darrell. He's taking care of him while while his friend is is in prison. So we want like a couple beats of that. What how are we moving along the story and we write those out. And that is a huge help, because there's so many things going on. And a procedural that if you for me, if you break it sequentially, you really lose track of like, okay, well, what storyline are we in and it's so helpful to me to break them separately. So like if I were doing a procedural pilot, now, that's how I would that's how I would break it is do the storylines separately, then weave them together. And what you often find is oh, this B story beat for Luca, where he's learning about leadership that can combine with this a story mystery beat, he can learn he can learn this thing about leadership as part of this mystery beat right? And if you watch the shield, which is a technical procedural, but it has it always has some case of the week whether it's Dutch and Clyde that might have a case or or Danny and I can read the cop she's partnered with have a case, there's always some storyline that ends, you can see the way or I can having worked for Shawn. You can see how Shawn breaks things in that show. Because you see the B story and C story and a story aligning. And you can imagine in your head how he broke them separately, and then they combined?

Alex Ferrari 47:55
No, no, like, as you're explaining all this. I've just My head hurts it just so many

Vj Boyd 48:01
Didn't make it easier by explaining

Alex Ferrari 48:03
No, because no, no, it was no, it was wonderful. But like just thinking about your absolutely like you walk it. Like if it was me walking into a writers room like oh, it's procedural. That's procedure one a week it's on, we do a couple things. But then you start thinking about all the characters have to have their own arcs, they have to have their own beats inside of each one. And then you've got to work in a beat for the main character, and then how those represent, like, there's so many characters, so many story beats, and then throw in the murder of the week or case of the week, right? And then and then interact those with the beats that you need to hit for everybody. And for the season. Like a head wants to explode like it's insane. It's like that seems so much more difficult than justified where it is not a procedural it's just like a story arc through the whole day.

Vj Boyd 48:50
And obviously like we especially season one we it played out more like a procedural early on season one, right and in justified the first half of every season, and maybe beyond would always have like some closed ended story. But the credit story took up like in Swat, that closed ended story is 60 to 75% of the episode and justified it was more like 25 to 50% of the episode. Right. But that was part of how Graham wanted to break it. And I think it was, I love that because it's very important to me, in a TV show that each episode has its own has its own thing. It has a character to it, like what I would always say and justified is okay, if this is the one where blank is this though you want when people are talking about the show, what are they going to say this one's about? You know, like there's some shows like damages is one of the most rare one most famously where it's just a serial, it's just 20 episodes 13 episodes that they're just like cutting the story at certain spots, you know, but to me, and I think honestly, that's one of the things that I think people love about succession. is so many prestige shows are so serialized where it's like you can't remember what episode things happened even like it in succession. It's like, oh, no, this is the one at the retreat. This is the one right? This is the one at this level, because I mean, they're shooting at all different locations. Like each episode has its own character. And I, you know, like it has, it's like, oh, that's the one where blank that's the one where blank. I think that's very important. And a thing that's in streaming can get lost. You know, I mean, one of the reasons people love squid game, this is this game. This is the one with this game, right?

Alex Ferrari 50:31
Well, I mean, first of all successions on the list, haven't seen it yet. So we're gonna binge it now it is on the literally on the bat and

Vj Boyd 50:41
I'm, I'm catching up. Also, I started it really late. I'm in the middle of season two. So that's why it's on the mind because I'm binging that right now.

Alex Ferrari 50:47
Right! Yeah. Cuz I was like, Oh, I keep hearing about and then I was in Austin at the Austin Film Festival. And then friends. I'm like, Have you not seen succession? What's wrong with you? Like, I'm like, Okay. Obviously. Have you not seen Ted lasso? I'm like, No, I've never seen Ted law. So I'm like, Okay, you gotta watch that last. I'm like, alright, we'll go we'll go we'll go through that. But it's, it's it's, it's, it's really interesting. The whole the whole process and how we, we do like in squid games, by the way, squid games. Let's talk about big kids for a second. What was it in your opinion? Being a, you know, professional television writer that caught our attention? What's good games, because I watched the whole thing, obviously. And I like after the first episode took me a minute. And then at the end of the episode, you're like, Oh, okay. And then you're in, you're in, they hook you with that first episode. And then it was just like me and my wife are just in there. Like, this is a well written show. I mean, I thought it was a well written show. And the way they keep the characters going, and even though the acting in my opinion was a little bit over the top sometimes and things like that, but emotionally they got me what was it about? I'm assuming you saw summit games?

Vj Boyd 51:53
Yeah, I'm I'm I think it's isn't that like an eight episode or nine episode? I think that I'm, I'm on episode five or six. I haven't finished it because that's one that I'm not. I haven't been binging partially. Partially. And this is because so often when I'm watching TV, I'm eating. And so if there's something with subtitles, then I keep missing stuff. Right. So I have to watch squid game last in the evening when I'm done with my snacking. So sometimes I don't make it to it. But no, I. I don't know. I mean, I think I along with every executive in Hollywood is trying to figure out what people love about squid game. I mean, it might honestly be as simple as it's, it's a really like wild premise. That then when you tell people about it's going to spread like wildfire word wildfire. Like yeah, there's this show. We're blank, right? Yes, it's high con super high. Um, it's, it has very interesting visuals. And like I said, like that first episode, like the first game, the red light green light. And like, though, like, that's not something those visuals the way that setup is not something we see that much in American TV. You know, I don't know how normal it is in Korean TV. And so it's like, Oh, I haven't seen anything like this. But I get it. There. It's not confusing. Because so so much. I don't I feel like streaming is doing a better job of not being confusing. But for a while there, I felt like every prestige show, I wouldn't be like halfway through the pilot and have no idea. Who's the main character? What what do they want? There's lots of people looking at each other. And like they're angry of the ocean, I don't know what's going on. Right? It's very clear what's going on. And it's very clear why people are doing things. You know, like some people would even argue it's like, simplistic, but you you you get it, you get it. You care about these people because they have understandable issues, whether they cause it for themselves or not. And you know, what's that huge? Do you want to see what happens next? You want to see what the next game is? You know, even though it's not a procedural it has an engine. You want to see what that next game is.

Alex Ferrari 54:01
Right, right. And now Now the show runners like, Oh, we're doing season two now. And it's like, and now you want I won't run the show for you. But now you're like, Okay, I want to go I want to go back to this world. As violent and insane as it is. Yeah. It says something about us to want to watch things. No, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Vj Boyd 54:26
I'll say that on the feature side, I'll give the advice that my friend Dan Kymco always gives and he sells a lot of scripts is write your spec. Like I like every year there's an army of people saying the spec script markets over only this many scripts sold. And every year, hundreds if not more scripts still sell plenty of them for people who haven't sold them before. So like write that script. Yes, you can get caught up in Oh, well, I won this contest with this feature script. Now I'm getting offers to go pitch on Yeah, sure, go pitch, write your next spec, write a really good spec, still confined to buyer. And when you write a thing, you can you can sell it five years from now, if you pitch something based on someone else's IP, it's that was too much wasted. If it doesn't sell, I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying a script you write last forever. And on the TV side, also, I would say keep writing new things. I know a lot of people trying to break in who are like, Hey, we read, we read my stuff. And it's like, okay, what do you have, I have this one script I've been rewriting for five years. And that's easy to happen. Like you keep rewriting the same thing. No, at a certain, cut it off, write a new thing, you can go back and revisit it later, you can rewrite it for five years in the background, write a new thing, because you're gonna get better. Every time you write a thing, then write another thing, then write another thing. And if you don't have a workshop group, find one, maybe the first group you try to create or join doesn't work out, you don't like the people in it, find a group of people who you trust to give you notes, and for you to give them notes. Because number one, you will learn things when you're giving other people notes, you're going number two, you're going to make contacts with people who are trying to do the same thing you're doing. And number three, you can learn a lot about how to take notes, which is a huge part of this job, if you get to do it. That is a lot of this job is being able to take notes. And your stuff will get better through the workshop group. My I was in the workshop group in grad school, which helped me out, I'm still into workshop groups with other writers who we've kind of come up together, one of which we start, when we started the group, we were all assistants. And now we're all in shows, you know, and so we all like came up together. So I think that's a huge thing. And don't be shy about telling people what it is you want to do. Because you never know, like, who can help you don't be like, don't be precious about it. Like, oh, I'm just it's just a hobby, you know, or not telling anyone what you want to do. Especially if you've moved to LA and you're having contact with people in the industry. I don't care what they do. Let them know. Yeah, I'm, I'm doing this right now. But yeah, I want to be you know, a TV writer, and I'm working on this kind of this kind of a spec right now. Or whatever, let people know what it is you want to do. So those are those are the pieces of advice I'd give.

Alex Ferrari 57:13
Now. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? These are my, these are my Oprah questions.

Vj Boyd 57:26
Um, and this is something some people just don't have an issue with. Like, if you're someone who like was in improv, or did drama, or was a great salesman, you don't have to learn this lesson you already know it. But just like not being Don't be a rock star about things. And this is I'm stealing this for another person. And what I mean by that is, if you're a who's a who's a rock star now, like, if you're a who's the guy who did that, though, if you're the weekend, if you're the weekend, and you're like talking to some people, and you like tell a joke, and no one laughs at it. You don't care because you're the weekend. You know, like if you if you like, make a mistake, it call someone by the wrong name. You don't beat yourself up about it all day, because you're the weekend, who cares? And if you're and you're not afraid to go talk to a stranger you're not afraid to, you know, be honest about what you think about something or be up front because you're the weekend, you know, act, act like you're the weekend. You know, it's like, because you're the only one who's sitting around beating yourself up about a about that thing you said earlier, it's like, oh, I won't talk in you know, I just won't talk to groups of people anymore. I had to learn that networking is not a dirty word. You know, because it's like, no, you're just networking is meeting and talking to people about something you both enjoy and love. You know, like, don't be afraid to like break into that group of people if you're at Austin film festival or whatever, like, what is the worst that can happen? You know, and

Alex Ferrari 59:07
It's not the Squidgames. It's not the Squidgames.

Vj Boyd 59:09
Yes, that's right. I still have to remind myself of like, all your regrets are going to be when you were too shy and didn't speak up. So be the weekend this week.

Alex Ferrari 59:23
And I'll just be the weekend it's just the best advice you can you just get the weekend and three television pilots at every every register read.

Vj Boyd 59:32
Oh wow. I'm pilots that people should read not watch. Um, well, I mean, Breaking Bad. Probably everyone's already read that. What's these? I'm trying to do it where they're not all from the same era. But I think madmen is one because that's an example of what did Matt Weiner wrote that like a decade before they ended up making it something thing like that I know he made some changes but I'd say madman is one that's also one of my favorite shows what's uh what's another good one? Oh you know what read the justified pilot that is that's a really good pilot that from my understanding Graham got very few notes on so what you're reading is almost I mean it's never your first draft but as close to like a first draft of a pilot you know like I think he got one that basically one big note in any added a scene at the end. But apart from that it's and apart from talking about reshoots. Famously, Walton Goggins character died when they shot that pilot in the pilot Boyd died he tested so well this is a one time when testing actually worked out it tested so well they did a reshoot where the current amount in the stretcher and he's alive and where would the show be employed had not lived? Wow, that's awesome talk crap about testing and it is annoying. Like, but it worked out for justified but yeah, read just the justify pilot

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
Vj man. It has been a pleasure talking to you, brother. I really has thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and your experience and continued success are in the business. I appreciate you man.

Vj Boyd 1:01:18
Hey, thank you for having me.

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BPS 148: Writing Pikachu, & The Craft of TV with Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit

Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit

Today on the show we have the showrunning writing duo of Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit. They are responsible for bring iconic character Pikachu to the big screen. The film starred Ryan Reynolds.

Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

Easily one of my favorite projects they worked on is the Netflix show One Day at a Time. On that project they got to work with the television living legend Norman Lear.

This comedy-drama is inspired by Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name. This time around, the series follows the life of Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family, as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Now a nurse, Penelope is raising two strong-willed children.

When faced with challenges, Penelope turns to her “old-school” mother, and her building manager, who has become an invaluable confidant. The series offers a contemporary take on what life looks like in both good and bad times, and how loved ones can help make it all worthwhile.

On television, Hernandez and Samit have written for, The Tick, Super Fun Night and 1600 Penn. They were named in Paste Magazine’s list of the top 28 comedy writers of 2018. In 2019, Samit and Hernandez signed a long-term deal with 20th Century Fox Television to develop, write and produce animated and live-action series

We discussed how they got their big break, how they approach the craft, the world of the writer’s room and much more. Enjoy my conversation with Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit.

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  • Dan Hernandez – IMDB
  • Benji Samit – IMDB


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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit How're you guys doing?

Benji Samit 0:15
We're great

Dan Hernandez 0:16
Doin alright! Doin alright!

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show, guys. I I I'm so glad that we were just talking beforehand. That Dan, you're you're the other Cuban. I know, in the business. People always shocked to hear like, I'm Cuban. And they're like, you're Cuban. It's always fascinating. When I'm on set, I'll just start busting out some Spanish and people were like,what is going on?

Dan Hernandez 0:42
Well, yeah, it's it's sometimes it takes people by surprise. Or you know, I think that you know, there's more there's, there's quite there's more of us than I think people realize given. Phil Lord is Cuban.

Alex Ferrari 0:57
Oh, yeah. There's a bunch. Yeah,

Dan Hernandez 0:58
There's you know we're kind of will infiltrate slowly.

Alex Ferrari 1:02
Listen. Yeah, no matter no matter where you are in the world. There's always we're everywhere. Like, in Germany, like a friend of mine was in Germany. Like they just walked by like is that salsa music and that there was a full blown salsa club right in the middle of Berlin or something like that. So we are we are everywhere in elephant infant trading. I like that word, infiltrating the business little by little. So guys, first foremost, how did you two meet? And how did you guys get started in the business? Because you've been pretty much working together. Almost the entire time. Right?

Benji Samit 1:32
Y'all? Yeah, we, you know, we, we went to college together. We met in college. We went to Brown in Rhode Island. And, you know, we started we we started working on like, plays and stuff and theater together. And and yeah, I mean, it's we've been together ever since of you know, it's been we graduated over 15 years ago now. And yeah, just keep riding together.

Dan Hernandez 2:00
Yeah, I can't seem to shake each other.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
I've tried to get rid of it. But I just can't.

Dan Hernandez 2:05
Yeah, I've tried many times. I actually didn't mean to wear this shirt. today. I just dropped my daughter off at preschool. And I just grabbed the first one. But it wasn't premeditated. But yeah, we did made it brown. And we yeah, we just really quickly realized that we had a shared taste, I guess for the things that we liked and the things that we didn't like. And I think so often having that taste is the first step towards a successful partnership. And so once we had that sort of foundation, it just, we started working on some theater things together, we started working on some writing projects together, and we just never stopped. We just kept going and go. So really, since 2006 Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 2:54
So what was that thing that Spark Spark did for each of you to be in this ridiculous business?

Benji Samit 3:01
I mean, to be in this business, I grew up in LA so I've always been sort of surrounded by and tangentially touching it and you know, like, my mom has written some things. My dad worked in entertainment in various ways. And so there was always a part of my life and you know, I love movies. I love TV. And you know, I think I think I always knew I wanted to do something with you know, like a lot of people that grew up in LA so many of them are just like I want nothing to do with like so many of my friends that I grew up with do not live in LA anymore. But I've just like I love it here. I want to be here. I want to keep doing this. So yeah, it was it was an easy decision for me.

Dan Hernandez 3:49
My path was a little more circuitous because I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida originally

Alex Ferrari 3:54
Stop, stop stop it. I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was raised in my in the Fort Lauderdale area and I we could I mean I went I was originally it was in Sunrise, but then I was born in plantation my parents my parents are still I just I literally just got back from Fort Lauderdale so I'm sorry guys everyone listening I apologize it's rare enough to see a Cuban it's rare enough to meet another Cuban in the business let alone another one from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Benji Samit 4:27
I mean the odds are when you meet a Cuban they're from South Florida.

Alex Ferrari 4:30
I know it's very rare to even meet a Cuban from South Florida right.

Dan Hernandez 4:35
I grew up in actually I grew up across springs in Margate.

Alex Ferrari 4:38
Okay. Sure.

Dan Hernandez 4:39
Like are you I say Fort Lauderdale because because the deep Yeah, you know, like depending on who you're talking to. It's like I'm from Miami.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
I always say Miami I just say my I'm from Miami because it's like Fort Lauderdale. Isn't that where the spring break movies were shot like an 85.

Dan Hernandez 4:54
Probably you had a cruise that left there once Yeah. But right the Venice of America,

Alex Ferrari 5:02
It's the Venice of America. Wow, I've never heard that.

Dan Hernandez 5:06
That is true. That is their nickname. If you look on like the, you know, like the city staff.

Alex Ferrari 5:13
Dan's just shaking his head. He's like, can we just move it along?

Dan Hernandez 5:16
Before filming from the Venice of America, I never could have imagined myself in the movie because I thought I would be on a, I don't know, like a glass bottom tour boat, or something. But I always loved writing and I always loved performing and acting and so Brown I did a ton of theater, you know, a lot of performance, a lot of writing. And I always was interested in TV writing and rewriting, but it felt like something amorphous that, yeah, it didn't feel like an actual career. It felt like some sort of intellectually, I thought, well, I guess that's something that people do. But how do you even begin to pursue that? Who are the people that pursue that? And then when I read Benji, I realized anybody could do it honestly, it was actually meeting Benji and becoming friends with him that changes exactly your my life. Because for Benji, who was much more familiar with

Benji Samit 6:22
LA, because it's my hometown, like, Sure, the big scary place that it is for so many people. I could sort of break down for Dan and be like, no, just come to LA. Like, we'll go, we can crash at my mom's house. And we did and we should.

Dan Hernandez 6:39
Meeting Benji, who had a more practical knowledge of like, how do you even begin to pursue a profession of TV and movie writer that really made me feel comfortable to give it a shot and and that was the beginning of that journey?

Alex Ferrari 6:55
Now, you guys were involved with a project that's very dear to my heart, which is one day at a time, which it is it was sad to see it go. I was a huge fan of it. And again, going back to the whole Cuban vibe that they that they made him Cuban, and they put them in Oka where's that Echo Park? In which is like, it's like the Venice of LA, but

Dan Hernandez 7:20

Alex Ferrari 7:22
Exactly. That go echo parks the Echo Park of LA. But it was it was such a such a fun show. How did you guys get involved with that show?

Benji Samit 7:31
Yeah. So I mean, the the show runner event show, co showrunner was Mike Royce, who great talented writer, Vick from, you know, for years and years and years. And we our first job as staff writers was on another show that he ran 1600 pen. And so we hit it off with him. We had a great time working with him. It was really, it was an amazing show to work on all the writers like it was just such a great writers room for a first show. And then, you know, fast forward a few years later, Mike got paired up with with Gloria Calderon kellett who we didn't know but they were working on this yet Cuban American show together. And Mike Luke, when they started staffing the show, Mike was like, I know a great human that we can have on the show and it's a guy

Dan Hernandez 8:31
Yes, Benji is an honorary Cuban. Yes. But yeah, I think that because we'd had a good experience with Mike on 600. When he asked us if we would be interested in coming in on one day at a time. I was particularly interested because it felt right that on some level for me that I should be on the ground floor of a big Cuban show, maybe the only Cuban show that, you know, I had seen in a while. And I was really you know, Gloria, and I ended up being the only Cubans on the staff. There were other Latino people, but we were the Cubans on the staff for the first two seasons. And then the third season, Jeanine Brito join us who's amazing, half Cuban half Icelandic. Just just

Alex Ferrari 9:19
How does that how does that happen?

Dan Hernandez 9:22
Pretty good. But but for the first two seasons, it was just for me and I felt like part of what my contribution was was trying to bring vers similitude and authenticity to the stories that we were telling and and we did realize that and you probably know this better than anyone is, you know a Cuban growing up in Los Angeles or San Diego has a very different experience or McKeown going up in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Obviously, we all started, you know the same spot in the Caribbean But you know, that just diaspora has it just leave, you have different experiences. And so I think that I was sort of the East Coast representative of what that experience was. And I tried to and, you know, my, it so happens that my family, like the family, one at a time is extremely liberal, which is sort of a typical. So I did feel like there was, but not all of them, but my direct family. So I felt very close to the Alvarez family in that sense, which I did think it was, it was, it was really interesting to write a Cuban family that was progressive, and that was working on issues and really trying to, like, work out where they landed on a bunch of topics that were tough. And, and, and not always obvious to talk about. So I'm really proud of the work that we did on that show. And I was really happy. And of course, the opportunity to work with Norman Lear. Yeah, was a huge, I mean, I mean, what, what a gift that was.

Alex Ferrari 11:04
So I mean, so there was something I saw every episode. And I remember watching it, I'm like, my god, this is very much like a throwback to the 80s and 90s, when they would do the deep episode, the episode that tackles something deep, like you wouldn't see that with a lot of the current day, even things in the last decade, you wouldn't see those kind of like, tackling like racism and tackling, like really tough things that shouldn't really be in a 30 Minute Comedy, but you guys did. How was it like doing? Like, how was it like, trying to was that like, in the beginning? Like you guys, like, no, no, we're gonna do this old school, we're gonna we're gonna tackle things that aren't being tackled.

Benji Samit 11:45
You know, I think partially, it was, you know, when you have the show that's coming, originally from the mind of Norman Lear. And, you know, he's still there for this new version. And like, that was, I mean, for decades and decades and decades, like that was such an important part of his work on TV like he had, he was responsible for so many amazing sitcoms that were more than just silly jokes and gags and things like, extremely funny, but, you know, actually using the medium to, you know, try and, yeah, give a lesson and something you try to do some good with, with what we're doing. And so that was sort of a guiding principle and ethos, it was important for Mike and Gloria as well. And all the writers to to try and carry that legacy forward and, and sort of do a classic, you know, multi cam sitcom with a live audience that really, you know, it's it was like putting on a play every week, honestly. And yeah, it was just a great experience

Dan Hernandez 12:55
Using the template that Norman had established over the course of his illustrious career. It really trying to not shy away from that and not being worried that it would come off as old fashioned or something. That was, that was important to all of us to try to capture up to, and to try to live up to what is the modern interpretation of that? And, and because it was this cubic family to say, well, there's a bunch of stories within this mode of sort of storytelling that we haven't seen before. Yeah, because it's it's just different culture. It's culturally specific now in a way that we just haven't seen a lot of these stories told through that Norman Lear lens. And that was that was what we really tried to do and and I feel we were pretty successful most of the time.

Alex Ferrari 13:52
What was the I mean, you working with obviously a living legend? What was it? What was the biggest lesson you took away from work with Norman?

Dan Hernandez 14:00
Hmm, it's a great question. Norman was, I mean, Norman is a big believer in if you get the right person for the the role, that there's a lot of trust that needs to happen between the writers and the actors. And that's why he's pretty rigorous about his his audition process. And he's pretty rigorous about if he doesn't think that the actor has the spark of what he really is looking for, even if it's a good performer or a famous performer. He doesn't he's not interested in that he can't. He doesn't. He doesn't engage with that. He really is thinking about what is the part what am I trying to accomplish? What is that spark that I see in this performer

Benji Samit 14:47
Well, it's yeah, it's finding the actor that can that can transform that what's on the page to the next level where like, you know, you could have the best script ever but at the actor doesn't click with like, it's, it's just not.

Dan Hernandez 15:02
And that may sound facile on some level, like you should get a good actor for a party. I guess what I'm trying to say is it's beyond. It's beyond town. It's like an almost indescribable,

Benji Samit 15:16
Like, a spiritual connection to the part.

Dan Hernandez 15:19
He really, I think that's why in the, in his, you know, the for I was gonna say the old days but, you know, to ancient but it is in the past, Norman often went to Broadway to look for performers who could carry a dramatic load as well as a comedic load. And Justina Machado was a Broadway performer. She's an amazing, I mean, she's an amazing actress. I mean, Rishi is rearrange our living legend, he got, you know, all of that. So, and then you have someone like Stephen Tobolowsky, who is just just such a professional and such a craftsman and such a technician and so thoughtful in the way he does everything. And the whole cast and, you know, the, I mean, is the fella, Marcel, like, you know, Isabel has now gone on to start her own show. So there clearly was something there. And of course, togher now stepping into the role of Schneider, you know, that was that was. And so in order to kind of get the alchemy, right, Norman really put an emphasis on chemistry, and that sort of it factor that that, you know, over the course of decades, he can recognize, I think, in a way that other people, you know, we'd all be so lucky to work long enough to be able to discern that in someone based on an audition, because sometimes these audition tapes the best, you know, not every not all the best actors shine on a video. Right. You know, and so sometimes it's going beyond the audition tape itself, or the performance on the addition, and seeing some quality or some move or some physicality that feels right. And Norman is amazing at identifying those things. It's it's really something we we really tried to take away from working with him.

Alex Ferrari 17:13
Yeah. And not and Norman still at it, man. I mean, he just, yeah, he's got projects left and right. Still, he's still getting things developed. He's still getting things produced. How old is it?

Dan Hernandez 17:23
He's almost 100. I mean, he's 98. And he's a nine, but he's an actual genius. I mean, that thing, that you meet a lot of smart people in your life, and you meet many talented people, but the amount of actual genius level people that you encounter is pretty small, I would say in this life. And so when you do encounter it, it's like, Oh, right. This is an actual person. This is a person that is exceptional. There's no one that knows more about a TV comedy that probably will ever live, I would go so I would venture to say,

Benji Samit 18:05
Well, yeah, no, I mean, he's been through it all. We were talking to him. And yeah, he was talking about how like, he, when he went to, to college, like he was like, studying radio, and they heard rumors of this thing called TV that was gonna come out. And I'm like, so then he started doing that. And he's still doing that. And, yeah, like, it's just talking to him is unlike anyone else. We've ever Yeah, it's not. There's no comparable person, because he's seen it all. Truly, He was there. He's been

Alex Ferrari 18:41
He's the oracle he's the Oracle.

Dan Hernandez 18:44
But he also knew every single person, you know, you can say, hey, Norman, tell us about you ever meet Orson Welles? And he's like, yes. And in fact, I did meet Orson Welles. My you know, like that, here's my Orson Welles story. I mean, and you could say

Benji Samit 19:00
He is still so sharp and remembers all of these things. And like, yeah, he goes to work every day. And he just he lives for this stuff. And like that's, it's really

Alex Ferrari 19:10
I just started watching. Yeah, just started watching the Rita Moreno documentary on Netflix the other day, and she was just talking about oh my god, that the guy can Marlon Brando. Thank you, Marlon Brando. And like, she's like, oh, yeah, this and that. And this and you're just in there. Like, what?

Benji Samit 19:31
You know, how many slides means that one day at a time, it's just heard regaling us with stories of all that.

Dan Hernandez 19:37
And Rita is also a genius. I mean, that's, that's, I mean, we've encountered a few performers in our time that I think are the transcendent talent is so remarkable that it's actually kind of breathtaking to see it. Express and Rita is one of them. We were fortunate enough to work with Robin Williams, briefly. And that even in the you know, week or however many days it was that we work with Robin, it was like, oh, that's why Robin Williams as Robin was because what he's capable of doing is so beyond anything that we've ever seen even even on a show that wasn't ultimately a hit, but that didn't change the the watching his craftsmanship watching the way he approached a scene watching away he even approached to take in between Tet, you know, yeah. So what Benji and I have tried to do throughout our careers is try to take those lessons from these really, really talented people, genius, loving people and take, you know, 15% of that as a lesson for ourselves. Going forward, and in our own work as best we can.

Alex Ferrari 20:48
Now I wanted to go back real quick. What was the what was that breakthrough? What was that thing because I'm assuming you guys didn't just say, Hey, we're gonna start writing and then the money just started boatloads of money started coming in and opportunities start flying in. That's the way it works in Hollywood. You say you're a writer, and then opportunities just show up. Right? That's the way it works.

Benji Samit 21:04
Mm hmm. Yeah, no, no. Yeah, no, it was just a whole lot of the hustle. You know, we, we were out here in LA. And we were sort of focusing on at first, just like writing features. And, you know, we got, you know, a small agent to finally read one of our things, and he sent it to a few places. And we, you know, pretty soon after graduate, like, in the first couple years, like we, we optioned a feature. And we're like, oh, this is the thing, if suddenly it's gonna get made. But now that all fell apart. Mm. Like, there was another like, we got hired to, to write, like, the straight to DVD movie that never got me. And so like, this was when we're, you know, 25. And any, any gig sounds like a great gig. And then, you know, so yeah, we sort of thought like, oh, everything's happening, but then no, nothing was happening. And so then we were like, well, let's keep doing movies. But let's also try doing TV because there's this whole other side of the industry that we love that's here. So we started writing, some pilots and, and those started going around, and eventually we started getting some attention there. But again, like it wasn't overnight, okay. Like, even once we started getting to the point of like, having showrunner meetings like we weren't getting the jobs yet. Like, just like, we were suddenly at a place where like, oh, yeah, we're doing showrunner meetings now. And, you know, that went on for a while, like we met on dozens of shows, or like a dozen shows, probably, before we got our first staff job on on 1600. Pen.

Dan Hernandez 23:01
Yeah, I think that, you know, I think there were a couple of things going on. I think that we were fortunate to get a small agent when we first started out. But you also do realize why these big agencies are the big agencies and and you know that there is an access issue. So that is a bit of an uphill struggle. But on the other hand, our first agent did an amazing job of getting us read places, we probably would not have been read just through hustle and through tenaciousness. And and I think it helped that because I'm Cuban, we qualify for a lot of these diversity positions on these shows. And so we were ended up getting read by a lot of places that I think probably wouldn't have read writers at our level. Otherwise, which was really great for us because I people did start to see there was something there. Even if we weren't quite ready to get some of these jobs, there was enough promise that people did take the meeting with us and we did get in rooms with really high level people that we probably at a pretty young age. It still took a long time to some luck to get that first gig. But I think it was all now and looking back on it. And I occasionally meet people who are sort of in similar situations now looking back on it when you have 12 showrunner meetings that is a sign that something is right in what you're doing even if those meetings don't ultimately ended a job you can sort of say okay, this is seems to be pointing the way towards eventually hopefully someone is gonna say yes, but in the moment it felt more like why is anyone saying yes we keep having these near

Alex Ferrari 24:46
I'm pretty I'm pretty enough Why doesn't anybody want to date me?

Dan Hernandez 24:50
Yeah. You know, I chose that we're, you know, like waiting me is the next year I was like, we could have wanted to have a So it was disappointing at the time. And but it forced us to continue to refine what we were doing, it could force us to, you know, work harder on our material, because we did feel like we were knocking on the door. And because we had made the rounds, and all these people were lucky to part is I went to high school with Josh Gad, the actor, and he is a friend. And he was very close. My also, my wife went to the same high school, and she actually was closer with him. He was a senior, we were freshmen. So she was great friends with him. One of my best friends was great friends with him. And when we moved out here, we were able to connect, and we became friendly. And Josh said this before anything, Josh said, Well, you know, if I ever get a TV show, I want you guys to work on it. And we said, okay, yeah, sure, sure. Yeah, that'd be great. Sure. And then he went to New York, and he did a show called Book of Mormon. And then he got outed for Tony, which he should have won, in my opinion. And then he came back, and he had a show. And he was like, Hey, guys, I want you to read for my ship. So that was it. But even that was,

Benji Samit 26:13
That alone wouldn't have been enough. But like all of the other meetings that we had had on other shows, it got us on the, you know, radar on the radar of the NBC executives that were in charge of 60 minutes. They knew who we were they it was it was sort of like all the stars aligning, right.

Dan Hernandez 26:31
So it was it was preparation, it was luck. It was hard work. It was it was timing, all of those things. And and that's why I often say to younger writers or artists, no one's journey can really be replicated. It's not, it's not possible can because if you ask any writers or Hey, how did you get your big break? You're going to hear a crazy roundabout shaggy dog tale of Yeah, well, I knew a guy who did a thing and that, oh, I met a guy or I was an assistant. And then I did that, you know, it's just it's not. Everyone's so different. Right? Right. That's how our story came about, and how we got that first gig.

Alex Ferrari 27:11
Yeah, and for everyone listening just because it you knew Josh, that's no guarantee you would have gotten if you guys were just working at in and out and just like, hey, I want you guys to be a writer that probably wouldn't have worked out, you guys

Benji Samit 27:22
Because we knew Josh, there was actually some hesitancy, right. Other like from the showrunner and the creator, like, they didn't want necessarily to have like the actors, buddies, like, in the writers room, dictating what the actor should and shouldn't do. Like, here, I sort of had, it was kind of an uphill battle. And

Dan Hernandez 27:47
Well, you know, we learned a lesson important Hollywood lesson, which is our agent at the time said, you're taking this meeting with the other creators of the show. It's just a formality. And what we learned is that anytime anyone tells you something, it's just a formality, it means it is not a formality. teetering on the edge of disaster. Barry, I have a spidey sense for that phrase. Now, anytime someone tells me it's a formality or it's a layup. I'm like, Oh, okay. That means

Benji Samit 28:18
That I also think, you know, like some of the some of the failed showrunner meetings from when we were younger, gave us the tools to know how to then handle that meeting, that formality meeting where like, some of the questions thrown at us, we actually were prepared for in a way that we weren't when we were 25. And so it's sort of like, yeah, looking back at it, it's like every moment of our journey, like, helped, there was a reason that happened. And it it's yeah, it's

Dan Hernandez 28:51
Well sometimes it is making a decision to learn something, you know, so we would occasionally be in at the beginning of the show in meetings where they would ask you a question like, What would you change about the show? Or what's the worst part of the show? And I think the natural inclination, especially when you're young is to equivocate? And be like, No, it's fine. You know? No.

Benji Samit 29:11
You feel like us, like a baby writer? Like what? What how are you going to tell a showrunner how to like, fix their, their show, or you know what the issues are? But like, they don't want to hire a baby writer that just tells them that they're right. They want to hire someone who is going to give ideas to make the show better. Yeah.

Dan Hernandez 29:32
So after that happened a few times, we together made a decision that it was like if anyone ever asks us a question, like what is the worst part of the show? Or what would you change about the show? We're going to be completely honest. The next time that this comes up, and it so happens that that question was one of the sort of major questions in the 1600 pen interview and we just were honest, and ultimately approved to be the thing that got us the job. So sometimes the agents sort of discerning. Okay, what is there a lesson to be taken here? What did we do wrong? You know, but when Greg Daniels in my sure asked you like, hey, what's the worst part of Parks and Rec? And you're like it when you're 25? It's hard to be like, well, let me tell you, Greg Daniels. Yes, we just weren't there emotionally. I think that if, if, you know, going through that experience really prepared us for the future. And yeah, and help set the setting.

Alex Ferrari 30:31
Now, one thing I'm always fascinated about is because I've never been in a writers room, because I've never done television in that way. How do you break an episode? Like, what is the process in the writers room to breaking an episode?

Benji Samit 30:45
I mean, it varies between show to show show runner to show runner. But I would say the the sort of most common way that it's done is, you know, we have big discussions, those first few weeks of a writers room is really just talking like, getting to know each other and our personal stories, personal stories that may relate to what the show is about getting to know just talking about who our characters are this or that. And slowly, through those discussions, Episode, ideas start to come up. We're like, oh, yeah, it'd be funny if there was an episode where this happens, you know, like one day at a time. The first episode we wrote is the one where, where she was on hold for the entire episode. Contract the VA, and it's like, oh, on hold, and let's like, just a moment of like, oh, it'd be funny to do an episode where she's on hold the whole time. And everyone's like, yeah, that sounds funny, putting on the board. And so you sort of have like, a list of ideas of episodes. And it's up to the showrunner then, to be like, alright, alright, now, let's actually talk about that episode. And then it becomes more of a discussion of like, okay, well, what's going to happen in that episode, start to arc it out in loose terms. And, you know, just with the group, slowly filling it out to the point where it's like, you sort of have an idea of pretty much seen by seeing what the episode is what the ACT breaks are. And at that point, the the writer who's been assigned to do that episode actually goes off to start writing an outline. But much of the, you know, of the of the breaking of the story just happens in a sort of natural way with the whole group.

Dan Hernandez 32:28
Yeah, and I think sometimes you may think that you've got a great idea for an episode course of conversation, you find it evolves into something slightly tangential, or just an element of your initial idea sort of survives, or becomes the, the springboard toward what the episode is really about. So you have to have a little bit of openness to changing things and not being prescriptive about

Benji Samit 32:56
You can't be too attached to anything, when you're going into these discussions, like it really is just like, let the discussion take us where it has to go. And, and a good showrunner can sort of, you know, find that line of, you know, to freewheeling a discussion versus like keeping some sort of shape of like, where we're going, not losing sight of the episode and sort of a whole freewheeling thing.

Dan Hernandez 33:26
And now that we're showrunners, you know, you also have to be judicious and saying, This is really funny, but it doesn't sell on our characters, right? This is a really cool idea. But where do you go from there

Benji Samit 33:42
Right are there enough actual storytelling beats for it to sustain an entire episode? Or is this really just like a guy? So yeah, is this a gag

Dan Hernandez 33:51
Or kit does it link up thematically with the other stories that you're telling? Because normally in an episode, you usually have an a story and a B story? Sometimes?

Benji Samit 34:02
Or if it's like, you know, this idea is good. It's not a whole episode. Oh, what about that other episode idea that was on the board, maybe we can combine them together into one episode together. So like, it's yeah, you sort of just have to stay aware of like, everything that's been said in the room. And, you know, be willing to steer it in certain direction.

Dan Hernandez 34:25
If things could be quite technical. Really, I think that the baby is something that people don't it's hard to understand how technical it can be, unless you're actually sitting in a room and seeing how, how the episodes are put together, because there are certain things that you need, you know, the inciting incident the the ACT breaks, really strong and all of the you know, that there is a formula, and you can mess with the formula, but basically the formula is the formula and understanding sort of What is the bedrock of an episode of television that allows you to go off in different directions or to or to do something different in order to subvert that expectation in a way that's, that's unexpected, but the core of it really isn't that different than what Norman was doing, or what they were doing in, you know, avocado or something like it really is. It's it's, yeah, especially

Benji Samit 35:29
Yeah, comedy, is comedy, the things the things that make people laugh have always been the same. And like you can you update it, you modernize it, but at the court, the same stuff,

Alex Ferrari 35:39
Right! That you look at, you look at, you know, the Three Stooges, I still crack up. I mean, anytime someone gets smacked in the head with a with a wrench, and there's no actual bodily harm, right? It's funny, the banana is slipping on a banana peel. Funny, farts, farts funny.

Dan Hernandez 35:59
I think there's just something innate in the human character that certain things amuse us. And I think also one thing that I find helpful, and maybe this is just the way that my brain works is I, I couldn't tell you like the quadratic equation, I couldn't tell you the chemical bonds of sodium, but I can tell you what happened in a random episode of The Three Stooges, you know, some bit that they did, or I can tell you some random line from an obscure movie that and so a lot of times, they'll say, we need a bit like this, we need a moment, like Groucho singing, hello, I must be going, you know, we need something that captures the spirit of those things. So it's almost there's a shorthand that I think of which is okay, we need something that plays the role of this comedic moment, or this emotional moment, or, you know, an emotional moment within the craziness that that really lands I think, often referenced this before. But, you know, when Wayne and Garth in Waynesboro, they're lying on the top of God's car looking at the stars, and Garth is missing the Star Trek tune. It's actually a really beautiful quiet moment within the within the the craziness of of that story, but it's actually one of the most important moments of the movie because you see their hopes and dreams of these guys. And it's not I mean, yeah, there are jokes in it, but they're actually really speaking their truth in that moment. And so sometimes you say, Okay, we need like a Wayne and Garth moment that's specific to our show. But it captures the feeling and the spirit of oh, this person is speaking their truth. They're struggling, they're struggling sorts, something that they probably aren't going to achieve. And we really want them to achieve it, even though it's unlikely. And so that those are almost like the component parts that you then try to build it that I don't know if everybody does it that way. But that's on my

Alex Ferrari 37:55
Yeah. Which is, which is really interesting, because I found that a lot of bad comedy doesn't understand that there has to be a human story underneath. Like you watch coming to America. He really is looking for love. I mean, there's a lot of craziness that happens along the way. That's super funny. But there's that thing that's driving the story where it's not just gag after gag after that, then then you're basically doing Saturday Night Live, you're just doing you know, skits gets gets gets get where a lot of is that fair?

Benji Samit 38:24
Yeah. 100% you need to, you know, have that core emotion that you can connect to as an audience member, or else yeah, you're just watching silly stuff, which can sometimes be funny. But to sustain you for a long period of time, especially like when you're going to a movie like oh, you can't last hours without having some something to connect to emotionally.

Dan Hernandez 38:50
And I think it's it's it's something that I do you think you refine over time. I think that the tendency for young comedy writers is to just focus on funny and gags,

Benji Samit 39:02
Being as outrageous as possible.

Dan Hernandez 39:05
And there is value in that. But now having done a lot of things and written a lot of things, it's much more clear that the things that sometimes it's seeing things that don't work and seeing things that do work really are illuminating. So the things that I feel that I've been the most successful that we've written all I have a core emotion that's very pointed or very moving or aspirational or whatever, that there's some real emotional stakes. That is the bet is that just supports it. It allows you to be as crazy as you want to be because we you care. If you don't care, then everything is just a wash. It's all at the same sort of bomb.

Alex Ferrari 39:53
Right! It's like you look at something like boar at and, you know, that was obviously very, like outrageous and went over, in my opinion might have gone over the top a little bit too much in some of those scenes, but there's still that emotional thing. There's the thing that's driving more like you feel for Borat when he's trying to to kidnap Pamela Anderson.

Benji Samit 40:17
There's so much emotion and depth to to Sasha's performance. Oh, were they like, amazing. It was if it was an actor that was not doing that, like, oh, yeah, people would turn it off in five minutes. Like, this is disgusting. This is terrible. This is stupid. But like, you can't help but care about this guy. Because everything he's so he's so coming from an earnest place. Yes. And so hard. And there's a real emotional thing where you're just like, oh, like, I get what he wants, I agree with him, I want him to get that he's just going about it. And he's not just like, doing this stuff, just to provoke reaction,

Dan Hernandez 41:02
Forgives a lot of bad behavior. And that's, I think, been true of comedy from, you know, time immemorial. But I mean, even something like there's another version of it, which is like Kenny powers on he's found him down where he's doing really bad things. He's saying really bad things. But because Danny McBride as a performer, he's so he's just like an open wound. He's just so it's so obvious that he is emotionally fragile and broken, that you see the the, the genesis of all of the pain and all of the behaviors that are that are generating out of this person that is doing all this stuff, but you on some level, you're like, oh, but he is he's not a bad person, really. He's just so insecure, and so traumatized by whatever it is, in his past that he is now expressing it in this way. That is, of course inappropriate and very funny. But there, you know, not every performer has that thing. And writing can help with that sometimes, if but there are certain special performers who you're kind of just on their side, even when they're doing bad stuff. And so often, it's because they give you a glimpse into a different they give you a glimpse into it interiority,

Alex Ferrari 42:29
Humanity. Yeah, humanity

Dan Hernandez 42:31
Is there even if they couldn't express it as a character themselves, you see it, you recognize it for what it is, which is vulnerability, which is pain, which is humiliation, which is whatever, and those are really powerful emotions. There was really visceral emotion

Benji Samit 42:46
If you were if you were to read a lot of the Yeah, like, like Danny McBride, Kenny power like that those lines on paper, if you're just reading the script, you're like, I don't know about this character, like, right, okay. But then you see a performer who can translate it to the next level. And it's so it is an interesting thing. You know, when we talk to writers that are still trying to, to, you know, find success, it's like, you can't, you can always write even, you can always write that character, like, you know, it's sometimes it takes an actor to make that happen. And so like, even if you see in your head, or you feel like, you know, like, I know, in my head that when an actor does it this way, if you'll see the emotion behind these lines, but like, these are the lines, but if it's like a spec script, that is just like going out to the test, like people cannot read it the way with the delivery that's necessarily in your head. And so, you know, it is a complicated thing, where like, sometimes people are like, well, how come I can't write like that in my script, and then like, this one went on to be successful. You know, but you know, there's all these rules of what I can write, it's like, you just sort of have to, like, yeah, there are different rules for different stages of writing. And they when you're first starting out, like, you need to write something that the a wide audience is able to read it and and see what you're trying to do.

Dan Hernandez 44:23
That doesn't necessarily mean you have to pander, it just means that it has to be written, clearly, right? I suspect that if you read the script of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless line, you would be like, This is amazing. It's brilliant, even though it's really weird, but I think the reason you might feel that way on the page is because it's very clear What's Happening. Happening is super articulated. It's super explained. You get it is illustrated, and the emotion that it's dealing with is universal to every I almost every single person has experienced that exact emotion. And so it's not just So that's an example of it. It is super specific. And obviously, it's in his brilliant voice, Charlie Kaufman. But what he's actually writing about was actually expressing is something that anybody could understand. I wish I could just forget about this person, right? It's so visceral, and it's so human, that it's, it does so much work for you, because you don't have to go far afield to imagine what that feels like. And so it sells so much of the, the idiosyncratic things about that movie, and then you obviously see it performed at it's even better. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 45:38
Right. And that movie so crazy that if it didn't have that, so that that connection, that emotional thread that we could all connect to quickly, you'd be lost. Because it's hard movie to it is a hard movie to follow. But it isn't a hard movie to follow at the same time. But if you didn't have that, you would you would literally be you'd be lost.

Dan Hernandez 45:57
Would I think and I think that that's where some of stroke off, it's like synecdoche. Er, you know, I think is a much I liked that movie. And I thought it was really cool. But it is a more heady and sort of right intellectual experience that is a little bit harder to digest. I think for someone that's not really focused on it and write a decision to digest it because you're kind of going with this writer whereas even something like adaptation, it's very Oh, yeah, but but again, that the heavy emotionality of that movie is actually pretty accessible, loving, and it's really well articulated. And so so that's what I think Benji means, which is like, if you are going to write something really weird, you let people in, find the way that that people are letting by that piece of material really shy? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 46:55
So which which brings me to Pokemon Detective Pikachu. Brilliant title.

Dan Hernandez 47:04
Yes, of course,

Benji Samit 47:05
I'll take it.

Alex Ferrari 47:11
And then let's bring it back to Pikachu. No. So when I first like, I think,

Benji Samit 47:16
To eternal Sunshine that has Pokemon in it would be

Dan Hernandez 47:19
That's true.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
It is true. It is. It? Is it is it is the it is the Eternal Sunshine of the Pokemon universe. There's no question. There's absolutely no question.

Benji Samit 47:31
It's our guiding principle.

Alex Ferrari 47:34
So did you guys it was out an original spec? Would you guys brought in on that? How did you guys get involved with that project?

Benji Samit 47:39
So you know, that's one where we had we'd actually worked with the producers on a different movie, like a year or so prior. And it's one of those things where like, it's the movie we were doing before was a great movie. We're really excited about it. One of my favorite scripts that we've written, it seemed like, Oh, this is gonna get produced. It was gearing up. We were talking casting. And then, you know, we get a call one day like, oh, actually, the producers are leaving for another studio. So the whole, all their projects are dying. This one. And so it was like another one. It was the biggest disappointment of our career. And it felt like a huge failure. But when we look back now, it's like, oh, no, that was a key turning point for us. Because we wrote the script with these producers. They loved working with with us, it was a great process. And then, you know, yeah, they, they took a job for another studio, like okay, every you know, there's a good opportunity for them. Like you can't blame them for that. And it's unfortunate that the project died, but they liked us and they wanted to work with us again. So a year later, when suddenly they're developing this hack to Pikachu. We're now on the list of writers that they want to bring in, you know, they're sort of like, who are the who are the biggest nerds we know. And that was that so like the the actual concept of Detective Pikachu it was based off. It was actually a video game. It was at the time we wrote the movie. The Detective Pikachu game was only available in Japan on the Nintendo DS. So like it wasn't even in English. We had like a rough translation of the game script. Yeah, but yeah, like they brought us in because we're nerds who knew about Pokemon? Yeah, you know?

Dan Hernandez 49:45
Yeah, I think that what was helpful for us is we were maybe a little bit too old to be in the the full craze of the first generation of poker, but we were in high school right now. When it first came, we were also young enough to be totally familiar with it, and to play the games and to have opinions about the world to have Pokemon that we'd like to be pretty familiar with at least the first few generations of Pokemon. Now there's multiple generations, you know, 1000, you know, like 1000 Pokemon. So you. And you know, if you meet a little kid, they can rattle off every single one. You know that that took a little bit of training up for us? Sure, but at least for the original few generations, we knew them pretty well. And we're familiar with them. And so I think that one advantage that we had going into that project is, we had opinions we had you said, you know, no, we should use this book about because he's funny, or this Pokemon has more of a cinematic personality, as opposed to one that maybe is cooler in design, or in principle, but doesn't really have a defined voice that is going to translate to a movie.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
What's the what's the what's the meme guy? Original Pokemon? The Mime? Is that an original?

Dan Hernandez 51:09
So he Yeah, Mr. Mime was a Pokemon. Not a very popular poker. Shocking, because he's weird and creepy, and sort of a typical of the other Pokemon. But the things that made him kind of weird and unpopular, actually, were exactly the things that we needed for the movie because Mr. Mime had a way of expressing himself that some of the other poker but didn't you could actually have a human conversation with Mr. Mime, as opposed to

Benji Samit 51:40
Yet also it was, you know, there was an element of like, choosing which Pokemon were the most cinematic, like one thing we could build movies, right, right. When we're telling a noir detective story, hey, you know, you're gonna want to have an interrogation scene. I think it was the director, Rob, who was like, Wouldn't it be funny to do an interrogation scene with the mind of the mind? Talk? And we're like, Yeah, and so then, of course, when we were writing that scene, you know, this was us being like, alright, well, how are we going to get answers from a from a mine Pokemon? Oh, can we mind torturing him? So that's, like, of every crazy idea that we had when we were writing that movie. That was definitely one of the craziest ones. And that was when we were like, for sure they're cutting this like, there's no way Oh, no. My torture in the movie. And, you know, not only did it stay in it was like the trailer home.

Alex Ferrari 52:49
It was it was

Dan Hernandez 52:51
We were pretty surprised.

Benji Samit 52:53
We were like, wow, that made it all the way through every every draft.

Dan Hernandez 52:59
So I think that was an example of just having some familiarity having having an approach into this world that is, you know, obviously very popular, but for people that are didn't grow up with it, or who are kids, it's how do you let those people in on this world as well? And how do you make it equally satisfying for hardcore fans? But also,

Alex Ferrari 53:24
Right I

Benji Samit 53:27
The other. I mean, the other challenge was that like, Yeah, we had to make it satisfying for for random people in the general public, who didn't know anything about Pokemon, but making it satisfying for Pokemon fans was also nerve racking because this was a different kind of Pokemon. So like, you know, when we set out to write it, like The Pokemon Company was, you know, pretty clear, like, you know, in this world of Brian's city, like, there's no trainers, there's no battles, there's no Pokeballs sort of, like, all of the defining characteristics of what makes a Pokemon story. You know, so like, when they were like, okay, yeah, so do Pokemon, but with no pokey balls. And it's just like, it's almost like robots doing Star Wars with no force. No, no, lightsabers, lightsabers, none of that. No Jedi.

Dan Hernandez 54:19
Just like so. You're kind of going, huh? And so, what do we do here?

Benji Samit 54:24
You know, so it was it was a little scary when we first Yeah, sat down, we're like, do do the fans actually want this? You know, what they like? So many of them probably just want to see the classic Pokemon story of ash, like told in a movie like, right, what is this different kind of movie that we can tell but it actually, you know, as we were writing it, it became kind of freeing that we didn't have to, you know, rely on decade's worth of backstory and you know, worry about like, well, if this character this way, it'll make people angry here, you know, like the the normal problems of adaptation didn't really apply. Apply because yeah, it was like, it was its own side universe where, you know, yes, it's part of the world and like it's all of the Pokemon creatures that people love, but able to see a different spin on

Dan Hernandez 55:22
It was freeing, ultimately, which is not something that we expected to begin with. And it was a good lesson that sometimes maybe it is better to sort of explore a pocket of the world that hasn't been explored before, rather than go and tell a story that has been told over and over and over and over again, that everyone has their own emotional connection to and their own expectation of what how that story should be told. And what's important to highlight in a story like that. So right, that was a good lesson for us and something that we are going to try to take for.

Alex Ferrari 55:59
Yeah, it's kind of like, you know, seeing the origin story of Spider Man, I'm like, Guys, we all know how Spider Man was created. We all know how Batman was created. We don't we don't need this anymore. Let's move it a lot.

Dan Hernandez 56:08
Which I think is one of the reasons why spider verse was such a revelation. Right, let's get here. Let's explore let's you know, hey,

Alex Ferrari 56:16
Let's get spider ham in there.

Dan Hernandez 56:18
You know. So I think that that's what fell. So I mean, in addition to the visuals, which are stunning, but just from a story point of view, it was it was, didn't feel the need to tell that story. Again, it really was able to range far afield from where any other Spider Man story had had gone before. And I think that that's what made it feel so fresh. That's what made it feel so funny. To have serious spider man next to Spider him. It seems like it shouldn't work. But within that film, it's perfect. It works brilliantly. It was. So that's, that's a good example of okay, let's tell a different kind of spider man story. And I think that that's a good challenge for anyone setting out to adapt, you know, something that is pre existing piece of material or characters that we're familiar with, even if it's not IP, per se, like Pokemon Star Wars, whatever. But even if it's degree night, you know, yes, I think that has existed for centuries. How do you tell that story in a way that is modern, that is fresh? And those are those are the stories that you know that there's something about the story that works to begin with? Because it's still with us, after hundreds of years, and all in some of these cases, Robin Hood? So now it's okay, what do we what do we do with this thing? How do we explore something that hasn't been explored before? Those are exciting moments as a screenwriter, I think

Alex Ferrari 57:52
Now, did you? Did you work with Ryan Reynolds? Was he involved at all in the writing process? Because I know he wasn't Deadpool a whole bunch?

Benji Samit 57:59
Yes. So he, at the stage where we were writing at the very beginning, he wasn't involved. Like we didn't, we weren't even writing for. Like, we were just sort of creating this character and writing the movie. And, you know, it was after they had that final script, and they brought him on board like, Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, Ryan, goes into the recording booth. And he's so brilliantly funny that I saw lines che so like, we're watching the movie. And we're like, we didn't write that joke, but I love it.

Dan Hernandez 58:31
So when you work with Ryan, yeah, someone who is so quick and so funny and, and has a great writing voice himself, you know, he's able to come up with this material that really works for himself. And not every actor is able to do that, as you can imagine, but he is he's able to say, I'm going to try this or I'm going to try so yeah, I don't know, I just, he knows he knows what you know, what works, what works for him and the kinds of things that he thinks are funny, which so happens, most people just date it. So before really fortunate, made us look good. A lot of the time when he would say something really funny, and we're like we didn't write that, but we'll take credit for having a credit. But, but I think, you know, the part that I am proud about is that we wrote a character that he really liked, and that that he felt like he could the foundation was there so that he could then run with it and do his thing, which is what you want.

Benji Samit 59:38
And coming from the world of TV where everything is collaborative. Like we don't have that sort of same preciousness that maybe other feature writers might have have. Like, that's not the exact word I had. Were like, you know, on one day at a time or any other sitcom we've written on like, we've got jokes in every episode, not just the ones with our names on them and you know the ones with our names on them. You know, everyone else from the writing staff has jokes in there, too. It's like, it is a collaborative thing. And, and we like that

Dan Hernandez 1:00:07
It's been useful to have that foundation in writing movies, because you just have to be flexible. And you have to not be like, No, it's y'all, especially these big sort of IP driven move.

Benji Samit 1:00:21
Like, there's, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen for that, like, that's just a nature project, you know, these are corporate owned properties, like there's they, they, they're bigger than just you, the writer of the movies. So, you know,

Dan Hernandez 1:00:38
How do you navigate that? How do you try to make everybody happy? That you know what you're doing? Yeah. That you have an opinion. You know, I think it's easy sometimes in those situations to say whatever you guys want. But sometimes it's actually more beneficial to a project, as the writer just say, Well, hold on, let's slow down for a second. Here's why we decided to do it this way. And to have a really good thought out reason. And sometimes people go, Oh, you know what, you're right. Or Oh, you're right. I didn't think about it that way. And so these big projects, gaining momentum of their own, and sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees, but we were fortunate, the Pokemon at a turning out as good as it did, because we love it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
And then you also jumped on another big property, which is Addams Family, which is huge. You know, it's been around forever. And so many people know that. I mean, everyone knows the song. Everybody knows the character's mind. By the way, my daughter's obsessed with Addams Family right now. Like they're obsessed with it. And I told him, like, you know, there's like, there's live action movies, just like they're like, What? They're like, there's live academic, yes, we'll get the live access as well. How do you like, I mean, that thing, I mean, that property, those stories, I mean, have been told again and again and told well, in other in other films, I had Barry Sonnenfeld on the show a while ago, and we talked about, like, how he had to deal with Addams Family, the first one. So how did you guys approach? You know, telling the story of the second the animated version?

Dan Hernandez 1:02:12
Well, I think that similar Lee to Pokemon, you know, we had a really, we had a real sense of these characters. Sure. I think that in the case of the love, deep affection for those characters, I think because of those live action movies, and then going back and watching the old shows, and the old reading the Old strips, you know, but I think that when you have characters like the Addams Family, unlike a Pikachu, whose personality can only be so defined, right? Yeah, each of them is extremely define and habit for decades.

Benji Samit 1:02:45
Yes. So it made the writing, like, it's rare to structure a starting a script where, right, you instantly on day one, know exactly the voice of every one of your characters. And like, What a joke would say, well, like, what's a good Gomez joke? What's a good mortician? We didn't have to create any of that, like that is set in stone. We know people, you know, people know and love these characters. We just have to do justice to those voices.

Dan Hernandez 1:03:14
Right. So I think that, you know, the Addams Family, too. And the animated series is a little bit different than the live action because they I think they are a more ad kids. So it's then saying, Okay, well, what's a story that honors the Addams Family tradition and isn't pandering and isn't dumbing down but also, is something that is emotionally accessible to to younger people that they can really look into and understand. And so then the question becomes, okay, yes, it's great that these characters are sort of fine. But we've also seen them in a lot of different circumstances over the years. And so it's like, what's left? That we haven't seen them do a million times before that we haven't explored fully in this case. One of the premises of the movie is is, is Wednesday, actually, a member of the fat and Addams Family by blood by birth or not. And that was a so it then became a question of, well, what makes an atom's what is an atom's? What? Is it a birth thing? Isn't an attitude thing? Is it nature? Is it nurture? Both of which I think the adversary would not like. So that was the genesis of of where that story idea came from. And then, like Benji said, the characters are so define that part for us was relatively easy, because we felt pretty confident to write in the voices of these characters now. Not everyone can. Not everyone likes doing that. Right,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:00
Right, they want to create their own thing, right?

Dan Hernandez 1:05:02
Right, they want to create their own thing. And it just so happens that we actually enjoy doing both. Sometimes we enjoy creating original new characters. And sometimes it's really fun to take somebody else's character for a spin, and get to try out some things that you wouldn't normally, you know, I never thought I would get to write Joe mess, jokes, characters in all of anything. So it was a lot of fun in that respect. And it also felt like, he didn't really feel like work, because so much of the work had been done for us, really, the bulk of the work was in the plotting. And in the, in the, the structure and the execution of that plot, as opposed to How's Gomez gonna act here? What's funny, a little faster? And then, you know, because this is animated, you can expand the range of what is possible for these characters physically.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:57
In cousin it. Yeah, like, cousin.

Dan Hernandez 1:06:00
You know? Yeah.

Benji Samit 1:06:02
Fester, slowly, transforming into an octopus creature is like, it's one of those things where it's like, in live action, you don't really do best in animation.

Dan Hernandez 1:06:15
It's like, Yeah, let's Yeah, we can do that. As long as it feels consistent with the faster that we know. And in this case, especially the, you know, that the kids are now familiar with. And we've been really fortunate that kids love. Yeah, I mean, they love the movie. And the first one, they left worrying for us to get to hear from people. My kid has already watched it five times.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:41
My daughter is obsessed with Wednesday, like obsessed with Wednesday. She's like, she's like, Wednesday is the coolest character.

Dan Hernandez 1:06:48
And she, she, my I have I have a four year old daughter, we just the other day, she she watched the movie for the first time. And she loved it. And she loved Wednesday and like, Yeah, I mean, for me, that was exciting. Because it was like, the first thing that we've written that my kid could watch, right? Yeah, it was thrilling in its own. She was she was very proud.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:11

Dan Hernandez 1:07:13
So that's how you, I would say that's how we approach something like house family, which is, you know, every project has its own idiosyncratic share on it. And you kind of have to be adaptable and tailor kind of what is required of you, as a writer to what the project is, and what the ultimate goal of each of those projects

Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
Now and obviously you were listening to the MC Hammer song on loop while you were writing this write the Addams Family

Dan Hernandez 1:07:40
We gave it a spin. not listen to it.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:47
Now, I'm going to ask you a few last few questions asked all of my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Benji Samit 1:07:58
I won't say that like, that is sort of what I was talking about earlier of like, the the moments of defeat and the low points, right. In hindsight, are actually every single thing is it is it is a path towards victory in the end or you know, it is a stepping stone. Like you you look at it as like this is the end. But really, in hindsight, you will see that like that was a that could have been a key pivotal moment, and to not, and just sort of like allow yourself to remain open to that possibility even and try when we're in the moment now. I think we're now a little better, because we now have this career that we can look back on of this happening again. And again, it's like when a bad thing happens, we can now sometimes say, well, like, maybe it's for the best because we made a good relationship here. And we can still turn it into like it's not the end. It's not as like doom and gloom as it may be was early on in our career.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:03
Yeah, it's great advice. Um, what is the what what advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into TV or into the film business today?

Dan Hernandez 1:09:15
I think you know, like I said, there isn't one path that is the path. So you should disabuse yourself of the idea that you can replicate anyone's journey or that what you're doing is the way you have to do things or what the way someone else did it. It's just not true. I think that the part of it that will always remain true is having something that you can a piece of material that you can share with people where you say where you reach a point where you can say, if someone doesn't like this, I'm okay with that because I feel like I executed what I wanted to execute the best I could possibly executed knowing 50% or more people who read anything that you write, including us will just not like it for whatever reason. So you have to get comfortable with rejection, you have to get comfortable with judgment of things sometimes that are very personal to you. But my opinion is that if you write material that really is unique to your point of view, whether that is a personal ethnic point of view, cultural, societal class, whatever, some amazing experience that you have some point of view or philosophy that you have that is unique, like Larry David, you know, you. So when you when you can do something, when, when what you have written, really is a calling card into the shorthand of your being and your personality and the way that you look at things. That's the material that that inevitably is noticed, and is passed around and is well received. And so don't chase trends don't chase things that you think that you ought to do. Alright, fleabag, right. Like that was a play that she wrote, but it would be hard to say, Okay, I'm gonna write a fleabag, that I don't think it really works like that, I think that probably she had something inside of her that she needed to express and through, you know, because she's brilliant, you know, like that. It served, you know, in wound its way until suddenly, she is Vinny Wallbridge, you know, right. And fleabag is fleabag. But everyone I think has that thing inside of them that is extremely personal and extremely neat. That doesn't mean it mean, it needs to be super serious or heavy, it just has to be from you and you alone. And once you have that piece of material, then you can and it takes time, right, you may not hit on that piece of material, the first time out, or the fifth time out, or the 10th time. But if you make a little progress each time, now you're able to share that material with others. And the feedback that you're going to get is going to start to get better and better and better. And as if it gets better and better, better. The range of people who read it and the opportunities that are going to come your way are going to be are going to just expand. So I would focus on that first and foremost, and then start to strategize about the nitty gritty of okay, who How do I network? How do I get a name, right how to write. That's all good and important. But it doesn't really mean that much. It's not as high yield unless you have that that entry ticket. That is your script that

Alex Ferrari 1:12:45
Your voice, your voice.

Dan Hernandez 1:12:47
Again, that's like read a brand step. It's like yeah, but I think it's actually a little more nuanced than that. I wouldn't say the script that Benji and I wrote that got noticed by some of these people was a brilliant script, certainly not by our current standards. But what it was, was a true strip to who we were and the time that we wrote it. And I think that that came through in such a way that they were like, Okay, maybe this script itself isn't perfect

Benji Samit 1:13:13
We were not trying to emulate anything else, we were just writing ourselves on the page. And I think that's what excited people and, and sort of.

Dan Hernandez 1:13:22
So there's a difference between like a perfect script, and a script that is getting across a point of view and a person, especially in television, it's like if I read something that's not perfect, but it's really interesting, or I think that the brain behind it is really interesting. Nine times out of 10, I said, let's, let's talk this person, let's see what, what they're about. Because especially when I'm running a show, I don't need everyone to be the best at writing the show that I'm in charge of. They don't they don't need to that I don't need their own personal material to be so perfectly brilliant that that, you know, there's no criticism, but what I do need is to say, I think this person thinks in the right way, they have the right prerequisite amount of you know, technical writing ability. And if they're a cool person, and I like how they, you know, they are like if we vibe, I can teach them how to write how I want them. Sure, sure, sure. So I think that that's that yeah, that would be my first

Alex Ferrari 1:14:24
And last question. Kind of like rapid fire three screenplays that every screenwriter should read. Or three pilots, three pilots and every screen I should read.

Dan Hernandez 1:14:33
If you're a dramatic writer, you should read the pilot of the shield. Yep. It's unbelievably good. And it's just a special it's just a special script. It just does some things that are shocking and even to people who watch it now it's it's unexpected. It's just not what you think it's going to be so that that would be one for drama.

Benji Samit 1:15:01
You have one, one for comedy. Trying to think

Dan Hernandez 1:15:12
The pilot of I mean, I'm just thinking of scripts that I think you're you may be surprised the pilot of Glee is essential. It's, it's truly, it's nearly flawless. Actually, just in the way that it uses voiceover in the way that it uses the integration of the songs. And the characters are clearly defined a lot of characters in a period of time. It's very funny. It's really funny. In many ways, the high watermark of that show is for me, at least, it's really damn good. So that's a pilot that jumps out at me as as a really something to study and to like, just dig into what makes this thing work. And then as a movie, it really can't go wrong with Wayne's World, it's, it's really, really, really special. Yes, there are amazing performers of the heart of it. But if you really strip it down to its basic components, it is an underdog story that is perfectly articulated, and every step of the way, feels truthful. And it feels real to and the stakes, while in the wider sense of the world are pretty low. To them. It means everything. And sometimes that's, that's a hard actually pretty hard work to hit, which is like they're gonna lose their public access show.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:38
That's the world that's everything.

Dan Hernandez 1:16:40
For Wayne and Garth. That is the world. Yeah, that's their world. That is the one area in which they feel special. Right? One area in which they are anything coming from a rural coming from this town where there's not much in front of them. But what they do have is Wayne's World. And when you try to take that away from them, it is an existential crisis. And you do understand like, what are waiting guards without Wayne's World and and so there's a lot to really study and there's all kinds of craziness in the movie, but the core emotions, the friendship at the heart of the movie, the idea of small town, the idea of having a dream, all of it is in that screenplay, and I just think it's remarkably good.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:28
Well, guys, thank you so much for your time and thank you for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you for making Addams Family. Thank you for making Detective Pikachu. My daughters are very happy about that. Continued success to both of you guys and keep doing what you're doing, guys. We appreciate you.

Benji Samit 1:17:44
Well, thank you so much.

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BPS 144: A Writer’s Guide to TV Development with Kelly Edwards

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with writer, producer, former studio executive and diversity thought leader Kelly Edwards. Many of us want to be able to pitch our shows to a network or studio but just don’t know how the game is played. Kelly not only knows how the game is played she wrote a book on how to do it.

Her new book is The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Series Development. 

To make compelling television, our industry depends on enthusiastic new voices with fresh ideas. While there are plenty of books about the mechanics of writing, this is the first time an insider has detailed the invaluable TV executive perspective. As key pieces of the entertainment puzzle, executives hold institutional wisdom that seldom gets disseminated outside network walls.

The Executive Chair breaks down the business from the gatekeeper’s point of view, illuminating the creative process used by those who ultimately make the decisions. Whether developing a project for the entertainment marketplace or merely probing the executive mindset, The Executive Chair dispels myths about the creative process and takes the reader through the development of a pilot script.

There are a million ways to break into Hollywood. Your journey will be unique to you. Meet all the people. Work all the angles. But most of all, enjoy the ride.” – Kelly Edwards

Kelly Edwards recently transitioned from inside the network ranks into a writing and producing deal with HBO under her Edwardian Pictures banner.

In her former executive role, she oversaw all of the emerging artists programs for HBO, HBOMax, and Turner. The pilots she produced through the HBOAccess Writing and Directing fellowships have screened at major film festivals including Tribeca and SXSW, and garnered multiple awards.

Prior to HBO, Edwards was a key corporate diversity executive at Comcast/NBCUniversal for over five years where she oversaw over 20 divisions, launched employee resource groups, and introduced diverse creative talent to NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Telemundo.

Edwards’ career spans both television and film. Early in her career, she worked as a creative executive in features at both Disney and Sony under such talents as Garry Marshall and Laura Ziskin.  After moving to television, she served as a senior executive at FOX where she developed LIVING SINGLE, CLUELESS, and THE WILD THORNBERRYS.  While heading up UPN’s Comedy division as the SVP of Comedy Development she developed GIRLFRIENDS, THE PARKERS, and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE.

In 2000, Edwards co-founded the non-profit organization Colour Entertainment, a networking group for diverse creative executives in TV, Film, Digital, as well as assistants, all designed to connect current and future industry executives with one another.

Kelly and I had an amazing conversation about the business, how to pitch a television project to a studio, and much more. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Kelly Edwards how you doin' Kelly?

Kelly Edwards 0:14
I'm doing great. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to talk to you because you've got your new book coming out the executive chair, which is the executives point of view for of the entire television process, and actually what it takes to make a television show and all of that, and I really wanted to kind of dig in, because that's kind of the mystery that's like, the man or woman behind the curtain for a lot of writers. Yeah, they want to know what's going on. They all want to go to oz.

Kelly Edwards 0:44
Everybody wants to go does everybody thinks they want to go to oz?

Alex Ferrari 0:49
Oh, I understand. Everybody wants to be in the film business.

Kelly Edwards 0:52
There are a lot of wicked witches in Oz.

Alex Ferrari 0:56
And there's not nearly enough houses dropping on them. Anyway. So how did you get started in the business?

Kelly Edwards 1:04
Oh, well, let's see, I got into the business right after college, I came home. And my dad's like, you've got to, you've got to get a job. And I'm kicking you out of the house. And so I knew I needed to work. And I always wanted to be a part of the industry. I just didn't know in what capacity. And I ended up getting a sort of a hookup from a friend who was working for a very well known manager, talent manager. And he was leaving the job. And there was another person coming in a month later. And they said, Oh, would you bridge the gap between, you know, him leaving and this new person coming in, and it was only a month. And so I went to work for this manager. And then I proceeded to be terrible at it. I was just an awful assistant. And I screwed up more things than I care to admit. And before I got fired, there was another job across the street working for a casting company called the casting company. And I went I worked work there and vowed to be a better assistant that I had been before. And that was sort of you know, I was off to the races it was. I've always said that every job that I've ever had in this business has been a hook up for a friend from a friend. So one thing has led to another and led to another. I've never gotten a job as a cold call. I've never just blindly sent my internet my resume in and it had an interview. It's always been there's been some connective tissue from the last job to the next job. And so I got on this road working through as an assistant for this casting company. And one of the casting directors who was their days champion happened to be friends with a guy named Jerry was again, who was just coming off of a deal. He's just been writing with Don Segal on the Jeffersons and they were looking for an assistant. So I went to work for them. And that really was the real, I think, kickoff to what I'm doing now because I was a writer's assistant, and we were in development. And then there was a they had a show on CBS. And they weren't development on a number of projects. And I got to see the real nitty gritty of not only being in production, but also the develop development process from the writer side. And I really thought I was going to be a writer than but looking around the landscape of television at the time, there wasn't a lot of black women on shows. And, and so I decided, well look, I've got to get a job because my dad's breathing down my neck and I've got to make some money. And and so I ended up I end up going into the into the executive route, which I loved. And, you know, it was still working with the written word, it was still working with writers it was still being super, super creative. And I I went on that road for many, many years, I started in features, and then went into film, and I'm sorry, pictures. And then when I went into television and rose up the rings on the television side and then watch it at Fox worked at UPN as the head of comedy development and then decided that I needed to have another skill set because you know, there's a life expectancy to every executive and I could see my expiration date coming down the pike. And I left UPN to go have my own production company, I partnered up with a guy named Jonathan Axelrod, who had a deal at Paramount And together, we were in business for about six years, we had a show on the air, and I got to see, you know, the selling side of it, which was an incredibly important piece of the puzzle. Because as a buyer, you know, you're in this reactionary, you're receiving pitches, but you're not really in it. And then as the as the seller, and working with the studios and then going out and pitching. I was learning a whole new skill set that was really, really important to having career longevity. And so I did that for about six years and then We founded the company in 2007. And, and I went to work for NBC Universal on in the diversity capacity. And it was a very big corporate job. And I had 20 networks reporting to me and did a lot of work with the presidents of all the different divisions. We did a lot of diversity workouts and a lot of big, big gigantic projects in the diversity space. And then I went to HBO, to work for to set up their their diversity efforts, which really consisted of the writers and directors, programs, a set of topics and some photographers programs, and a lot of emerging artists programs over there.

And then, and then at the top of last year, they came to me and said, there have been a big shift, because, you know, the at&t merger had happened. And a lot of things were changing. A lot of people were, were changing chairs over there. And they came to me with a with a big offer and said, Look, you could have this, this huge, huge increase in pay, we're going to give you worldwide diversity. And you know, don't you want to do this. And I said, I said no, because by that time, over the last couple of years, I had gone back to, to school to get my MFA in screenwriting in TV writing. And also I had gotten into Sundance and the experience of those two things together really showed me that I had really been living in the wrong skin for a long time, I was probably supposed to be a writer all along. And I had poured all of my energy into making other people's dreams come true, and helping them and really learning along the way as I was teaching them about television writing. And this was my chance to do it on my own. And it was a huge risk, because, you know, you've given up a 401k and a Cush paycheck every other week, and great healthcare to, to go off on my own and start my own thing. So that was a long story. That's the that's the whole that's the whole megillah about how I got from here. But it's been a crazy, crazy, fulfilling last 12 months that I have been on my own. I do this, I'm gonna say it's a first look, HBO deal, but also I'm on a staff of a show. So it's, it's my dream has really come true over the last 12 months. And I feel like I feel so renewed where I feel like you know, many people get to this part in their career, and they just kind of go well, let me just write it out until retirement, I only have a few more years left for me just sort of enjoy it. And I'm just getting started.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah. And you know, what I love about your story is that, and this is only because of age, because as we get older, we don't realize this when we're in our 20s or even our 30s for that matter, is that your I love the comment I was in the wrong skin the entire time. And we don't kind of realize what makes us happy, too late or some people are very lucky they get that right away. But most of us don't. And but we played in the arena. We weren't the gladiators but we but we help the gladiators put their armor on. Right We were next to it. We could smell it. We organize the the the battles, if you will, if you use this analogy, but we really wanted to be in the arena. And I did that for a long time. I mean, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a director. And before I started directing, was imposed and I lived in post I was like I'm close to it. I'm adding skill sets. And that's great for a year or two but then you fast forward 10 or 15 years just like am I I'm not happy anymore. I'm like I'm not happy at this. I got to do what I love and then when I start doing what I love, then that's what made me happy. I think that's a big big lesson everyone listening should really understand is Be true to that voice inside of you. Because you can you can muffle that voice for years. It'll come back, it'll come back out. It'll come back out at one point. But you're like I've turned down my God when I was I only had two staff jobs ever in my life and I got fired promptly from both of them because I was so miserable in them, but they were Cush jobs, obscene money for the time, and I just let but I'm not happy. So it's not about the money and it's not about this it's like you guys very seductive though. Oh, so I said oh man not having to hustle for that check every week. As you know, freelancing you gotta hustle. But when you got that check coming in. oh 401k oh, I don't have to worry about healthcare. Oh it's it's it's very seductive. But it's something

Kelly Edwards 9:37
Your soul could die a little every day inside. Oh I was feeling I was feeling after a while that my soul was dying. And I knew that if even if I got out and did it for only a month or two months or I you know if I had to go back and you know, you know work work for McDonald's or you know, scrape tar For somebody shoe or something after that, that that, however many months I had would have been worth it. And that's when you know that you just have to do something, it's sort of like when we get what I think of. I'm not even sure if I'm going to articulate this well, but it's almost as though you have this light inside you. And you know that if you keep keep trying to patch it over, you know, you keep trying to sort of put something or said it doesn't really shine, but then eventually it's going to eke out somewhere, it's gonna burst out somewhere. And you might as well just open up the bag and just let it burst out everywhere. Because I've literally never had this much joy in my entire life in any job. And I loved my job. I loved working, you know, in development, it was a great experience. But there's nothing that compares to what what I've been living this last year.

Alex Ferrari 10:50
And we were talking a little bit before the before we started recording about the angry and bitter filmmaker and screenwriter. And, like, I always think the joke is, you know, in front of a film of an audience, I'll go everybody here knows an angry and bitter filmmaker. And if you don't know an angry, bitter filmmaker, screenwriter, you are the angry and bitter screenwriter, those angry and bitter filmmakers and screenwriters are the people who are not doing what they love to do, and they're in a job or in a place, that they're not fulfilling what they want, generally speaking, right? They're probably variations. But because I was, I was pissed. I was so bitter and angry. And I used to be in an editing room. And I used to see like a 25 year old walk in with a $3 million movie I'm like, and I'm looking at the movie. I'm like, this movie sucks. I'm fixing everything for this guy. And he does. He's never even seen Blade Runner. What's going on? Like, it's

Kelly Edwards 11:43
So so what changed for you then

Alex Ferrari 11:46

Kelly Edwards 11:49

Alex Ferrari 11:49
40, I was 40. And I launched Indie Film Hustle. And the film also was the thing that really took me to a place of happiness, because I was able to give back I found my I found my calling, my calling is to be an artist, and to be a creative, but in the film possible, affords me the opportunity to do that, whenever I want, when and, and also, my joy comes from writing a book, doing a podcast, writing an article, show a movie, shooting a movie, uh, speaking in front of people, I found all of that, and I was like, Oh, great, I don't have just one outlet anymore. Because if I can't, because that sucks. When you only have one outlet, if that outlet closes, you're screwed, I found five or six or eight different things that make me truly happy that gets me up in the morning. And, and they all work within the same world for the most part. So that's what kind of, and then when I turned 30, I was like, I gotta I gotta go shoot a movie. And I want to try to film my first feature, sold it to Hulu, and, you know crowdfunded into the whole thing. And that was that that was a turning point, really. But it was the audience that really gave me the strength to do that I was, I was scared to do that prior to having any film hustle. So for me, it was just like, you know what, I'm gonna go do this. And if it doesn't work, I got I got my show, and come back to my show. You know, and, and also just the joy I get to meet meeting people like yourself, you know, to sit down and talk to someone like you for an hour, there's people out there that would kill to have that opportunity to get that kind of access to someone like yourself, or any of the other wonderful guests, I get on my show. And I get that opportunity daily or weekly. And that is massive. And I get to talk to people at a very high level in the industry, and very high level executives and high level writers and Oscar winners and all this kind of stuff. And it just, it gets me jazzed.

Kelly Edwards 13:48
Right. So well you know, you said a couple of things that I think are really interesting. First of all, you didn't really wait for anybody else to give you that opportunity. Correct. You made that opportunity and not only that, but you said you found many avenues for that. And I love to tell people sometimes your vision you can't have such a myopic vision of what success looks like that you think oh I need to work at x like if you said you know to yesterday tomorrow whenever I want to go work at ABC you would then work you would then completely miss working for Hulu and working for you know, audible like your your creative muscle might might be doing something completely different. That still gives you that same satisfaction. And I think you did that you found the speaking you found the book, you found the podcast, you found the film. All of those are creative endeavors. And you're able to get that satisfaction of that love and that joy in your in your life through things that didn't necessarily look like well, I had to do my $50 million universal picture. Because I think that's what we sometimes when we when we think about oh we want this career. That's what it looks like.

Alex Ferrari 14:59

Kelly Edwards 15:00
All the things that can give you joy.

Alex Ferrari 15:02
Oh, there's absolutely no question. And I know people listening right now are like, well, what is what is success for you? Well, I have to go win an Oscar, I have to work on $100 million movie, I have to go work for Marvel or I have to go work for HBO. And do you know a game of thrones spin off and have to be in the writers? Like that's, it's a very specific goal. And my experience I don't know about you is, whenever I've made goals like that, the universe laughs at me. Because it's just does it does it never falls into, if you would have told me 10 years ago, and I would have a podcast. And that podcast would give me access to some of the biggest minds and highest big powered people in Hollywood. From my little room in Burbank, at the time when I was starting this now I'm in Austin, I would have laughed at you. Of course, it sounds ridiculous. Oh, and because of that, you're gonna be able to do this and this and this. And this, none of which were in my none of which were my plan. But you have to be open to what the universe gives you. And that's the thing that I always find. I found in my in my elder years because I'm geriatric now because I just broke my foot. But But no, in my in my years come is being open to what comes. And as a young man, I was not I was closed off. It had to be I had to be tweeting Tarantino had to be Robert Rodriguez had to be Steven Spielberg, do you have any directors walked into this? Because like, I'm going to be the next Steven Spielberg like No, you're not. Not because you're not capable. But you're talking about I'm going to be the next Michelangelo, like, that's who you're talking about. Like, there's a hand there's a handful of masters, who we all look up to. And even Spielberg was looking up to Kurosawa and Kubrick and all these other, they all do it. But you have to be the best version of you. And whatever that takes you. It's okay, as long as you're happy, and you're helping people and you're expressing yourself as an artist, and you're making a living. That's the goal of life. And that was the other thing. I don't need millions of dollars. And that was another big thing. Because a lot of people think filmmaking is about millions of dollars and fame and fortune. And when you're young, that's what you think about. But as you get older, you're like, you know, what, can I pay my bills? Can I support my family? I think I'm good. Like, I don't need, you know, $10 million a year, it'd be nice to be able to do some fun stuff with it. But it's not gonna make me happy. What makes me happiest,

Kelly Edwards 17:33
Right! I do so and it may or may not come the millions of dollars may or may not come? Who knows? And that's fine. If, if you're enjoying it. Yes, exactly. Exactly. And I think you're, you're you're just as much of a fanatic about film as I am. And I listen to your podcast. And I love the fact that you do these deep dives that you have the screenplays that you can sort of dissect on line, that I never get enough of just having conversations about content. And I think that for me, if I if I had to go work at a desk job and push paper, I would just shoot myself in a little ball. Absolutely. So any chance that I get no matter where it is, being in touch with other people who love this is life giving for me.

Alex Ferrari 18:17
Absolutely, it is a it is it is a joy to be able to do what I do every day, and I have the privilege and I tried it. I try to take advantage of it as much as I can every day. But it's about giving back Honestly, I mean, so much of our conversation, I'm asking you questions that I want answered personally. And then everybody gets to kind of listen into our conversation. These are conversations that you would have at a bar at a festival, or at a commentary or on a set. And I was like, you know, I want to have those. I've had so many of those in my career like Man, I wish I would have recording that one. Or always, you know, like that little gem that would have been great. And that's what I do for a living and I'm able to jazz myself up, but also give the opportunity to millions of people around the world to listen to to our conversations and hopefully help them along their path. Because I would have killed for an opportunity to have a podcast like mine to listen to when I was coming up in my 20s exactly Oh my god. It would have saved me but we've gone off

Kelly Edwards 19:16
Dealing with JVC tapes and you know,

Alex Ferrari 19:19
God don't don't go How old are we? Oh god Stop it. Stop it. I was cutting out a three leg. I was cutting I was cutting on a three quarter inch. Sony raises them putting putting reels together for a commercial house back in the night. And I was there I was there sell old I am. I was I was there Apple tech. For all the whole production company. I was the tech for all the computers which were all the little Macs and a little boxes. Yeah, axes. And there wasn't a Wi Fi. So in order to network everything you had to use appletalk and that was cable that you would cook and it was just like a long daisy chained cable across the entire company. And if somebody had to have I swear to God, if someone kicked one open and knocked the entire network out, and I would literally have to go and hunt down, where did they get kicked out and then plug it back. It was seen, but we have

Kelly Edwards 20:17
Okay, all right. Well, I when I was first, so I used to work on a Selectric typewriter when I was doing my first thesis and my you know, working for my, my two writers. And then I was so excited when we when we converted to Wang computers. So that was the big thing. And I loved typing on it because it made a little clicking sound. And I thought, Oh, this is so cool. So yeah, I'm gonna go toe to toe with the only person on the planet.

Alex Ferrari 20:45
Hey, listen, the struggle was real. The struggle was real. I just want to put that out there for everybody. And everyone listening is like, okay, Alex, enough with the old telling the two old farts. At least one old fart. You look much younger than me. Yeah.

Kelly Edwards 21:02
Sorry. I'm just I'm saying we're right there. This is this is the good news though. I just made a transition in my life and my career. And I'm I 30 plus years into the business. So I just turned 58. And I've just gotten stabbed for the first time. So if anybody does out there listening, go, I don't know if I can make a change. Absolutely. When I'm, you know, an adult. I've got three kids. They're all adults. They're all legal, then, you know, you can't you absolutely can't you just have to put your mind to it. And you have to make a plan. But don't ever let anybody tell you you can't make a change, man.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
Amen. Amen. Now, the executive ranks which is is a mystery to me. Executives get a bad rap. As a general statement in the film side and the television side. It's the evil executives, this is this is a lot of writers think this way. It's your evil executives who come down with their notes, they have no idea what they're doing, they don't understand what's going on. What First of all, what are the executive ranks? Is there like a specific kind of pert? You know, like, I have no idea what the ranks are. I mean, obviously, I know the studio head and head of television and things like that, but the hierarchy. And then let's first go into the hierarchy, what is the hierarchy of a standard, you know, executive ranks at a studio?

Kelly Edwards 22:27
Well, I delineate this in the book pretty early on, in laying the groundwork, because it is important for you to know what the levels are when people come in. Usually in the executive ranks, you start out as an assistant, sometimes there's a level lower than that, like an associate some of the programs that they used to have it I don't think they have any more use to start with associate, then you go to assistant and then coordinator, which is interesting, because years ago, back in the 80s, coordinator and assistant were were reversed. But now it's assistant coordinator. And the coordinator is really the junior executive on that track. And they they go from, you know, just answering phones to and creating, you know, coffee meetings, and you know, lunches, and all of that and scheduling. Travel to, okay, now you're a junior executive, and you're probably getting writer's list together, you're doing a version of notes, you're sort of you're in the meetings with the executives, and then you've got a manager. And that's even more on that scale. So as a manager, you're really fully an executive, but but you're still a junior executive, you're not necessarily running the meetings, you're not necessarily the person who's giving the notes to the higher the higher ups. But you are absolutely a utility player, you're reading a lot of scripts, and you're in the game. And then there's director level, sometimes there's an executive director level, that's really just a half step. You know, somebody, somebody HR is trying to squeeze in another steps that you don't have to get to VP, you can't be top heavy in your department. But then after director, it's VP and then Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and then you're going to sort of get into the, you know, the president ranks of the of the company, and then you get up to CEO. So there are there are steps in there, and you learn different things at different places along the way. By the time you're a VP you are, you can be heading your own department. Usually a director is not heading their own department, but a VP would be SVP for sure. EDP is in charge of a division most likely. And then present year and taught in. And I think, also what's interesting is that the more the higher up you get, the less creative sometimes it gets. So if you're a president of the network, you're not necessarily in the creative meetings all the time. You're not necessarily hearing the pitch you you've sort of aged out of the fun stuff. And I know a number of people who, who can get to that level they go oh gosh, I really Love the process of being in the middle of it with the with the writers. And now I'm dealing with marketing and sales and

Alex Ferrari 25:07

Kelly Edwards 25:08
And ratings. Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 25:11
So how So how has the when I said the evil executives, because I mean, I mean there it's been infamous like that's in Hollywood for a long time. Can you just from the point of view of the executives now you've been on both sides of the of the table? Wow. I've heard from many writers, and, and filmmakers, there are some excellent executives out there that give great notes. And really, they have an outside perspective, and they really have an understanding of story The and to have that understanding of character, and they really do help. And then there's the the egocentric, you know, climbers who are just there to like, I can't, I gotta get I got to stick my nose into this. If not, why am I here? Kind of executive? How do you deal with that kind of an executive as a creative? And how would you, because they have the power, they have the keys to the car that you're driving. But yet, if you let them drive, they're going to run it off the road. So there's this balance of creativity versus politics, which is, there is no book that I know of, there is no course that I know of that talks about the true politics of this industry. And it is yeah, it is important to understand

Kelly Edwards 26:23
It is there are a lot of things. And I think a lot of little pieces to this, because you have to remember it's not just on the executive side that you're looking at, you're looking at the status of the writer. So if you come in and your baby writer and you're getting notes from somebody, you pretty much have to take them. If you're a baby writer who's paired up with someone who can help, then you have a different level of influence. If you are coming in and you're the you know, the top eat me Shonda Rhimes, you're not necessarily taking anybody's notes. So you're depending on what you're what you're, you know, you can listen to them or not. So I think it depends on where you are as a writer on the food chain as well. Here's the thing about executives, though, if every executive comes into the business, as someone who is a fan of entertainment, the way that we are, they hopefully they're doing the work that we are, they aren't always but they love content. So they love television shows, they love film, they love books, they love the creative side of the business, just like the writers do. They're just a different part of the process. And hopefully a good executive has taken the time to figure out you know how story what you know, they read all the good books they read, you know, the hero's journey, they read, they, they know what they're, they're talking about, some people don't do that work. And I think that's when you see a bad executive, when you see somebody who's come in who hasn't been on the production side, you can always tell I can always tell somebody has or has not been in production, because you see that they give notes that aren't doable, or workable or even make sense. But they don't know that because they're they're dealing with limited information. But the executive who is a really good executive, is trying to help you realize your dream, your goal, you have a story to tell. If you've gotten to the place where you're having a conversation with an executive, it's because they like your work. So already, that's a good thing. It's not like they're coming in and saying, Hey, I read your script, and I hate it. And let me you know, tear it apart for you. That's not the goal. Everyone's goal is always with good intention. So they're going to see your material and say, This is how I think you can make it better. Sometimes the way that they deliver those notes is not great, is it can be demoralizing. I think, again, that's part of the executives journey on trying to figure out how do they become the best executive they can be. And they may be. I was telling, I was talking to the director on our show this today, who happens to be Joe Morton, who's who's in our show. And I said, I just cringe at some of the notes that I must have given as a junior executive, back in the 80s. I want to apologize to every single person that I ever gave a note to back then because I am sure I came with so much arrogance, thinking Oh, I know better than you do. And I'm going to help you make this better. Not realizing that that's not the way to to anybody's heart. And I say now I actually don't give notes anymore. I I asked questions. Because I realized along the way that the writer had a goal in mind. If they didn't make that, that if they didn't hit the mark, then it's not because they didn't try is that there's probably some missing information you probably haven't earned those moments. You probably haven't given us enough information about The character you haven't done it done the hard work, but there's something missing. That's that's not connecting. So I ask questions because usually through a process of asking questions there's a revelation that happens for the writer it's not I'm dictating the note to you but it's I'm helping you discover what you want to say and how to say it better and that's how I put things down but people don't come into the business to be horrible to be to be to be negative and they're the goal is let me help fix it. And I think that's sometimes where the disconnect is between writers and and executives in a writer can can receive that information in a terrible way if it's not if it's not given with the spirit of collaboration

Alex Ferrari 30:49
Right and there's always that thing called ego as well that gets thrown into the mix on both sides of the table this is the deal and as we get older we you're right when oh god the arrogance when you um I couldn't even sit in a room My head was so big when I was younger oh my god and my 20s oh my god it was I will fix it you have obviously you people who've been in the business for 20 years you don't understand I'm here to exactly I'm here to fix this Just listen to me I know that we will guide you right to the promised land now how has how has streaming changed the game because you You came up in a time when there was no internet no streaming there was no Netflix there was none of that stuff both of us did. So in the 80s and 90s you know we were still you know, there was cable and then there was more shows but now there's literally how many how many scripted shows are there now the 1000 a year?

Kelly Edwards 31:44
Yeah probably a gajillion I'm sure

Alex Ferrari 31:45
It's insane how is the game changed and it's a lot of the stuff that we're talking about still apply in the streaming world as well as the network world or has streaming completely changed the paradigm

Kelly Edwards 31:58
It has changed it in very significant ways. And in some ways it hasn't changed at all. You still need a camera at a script and an actor so that doesn't change it's not like the it's revolutionized to the point where we don't recognize what we're doing. It's it's very similar in that way. You still call cut you still call to action and but it's changed it in obviously how the business works. monetarily change Did you ever zoom in on the executive residuals well yeah residual Exactly. But if you think about it even on the executive track you know if you go from working at a regular network to going to work for Netflix you all of a sudden become a millionaire in a couple of years so it's changed a bit a big way you know every no how's that work? No.

Alex Ferrari 32:47
So how is that work holiday let's back up for a second so if you're an executive working at CBS, then you jump over to Netflix why at Netflix is your what is the compensation difference? Why is it it's just because Netflix is just giving money away? Like it's water? Oh, yeah.

Kelly Edwards 33:01
Oh, yeah, it's it's many times just putting a time is next to that number. It's double, triple, quadruple what you can get paid at a regular network. But they also don't have contracts, they also don't have the same kind of titles. So things are different. You know, I don't think that they have pension plans in the way that you know, you have a 401k at an at another network. So I do think that there's given take a little bit but yeah, you are getting paid. Some nice, nice paychecks are coming into your direct deposit. But it's changing also in a lot of other ways in that if you think about the way people are developing content, obviously when when we went to from broadcast and a certain number of act breaks now let's go let's let's actually jump back in time, let's back in the time when I was coming up, and I was working for Don and Jerry, you know, we were working in for camera tape shows, you know, and we were looking at quad splits and we were and the directors were in the booth and they were you know, she kept the shots. It's very, very different that we went into more when I was working at UPN in particular we started to work in more of the single camera area and by that time you know Seinfeld was around and so shows became have our comedies were not just two acts with a you know, a teaser and a tag. All of a sudden it's three acts. It's you know, when Seinfeld came out the scenes were so much shorter. They were a lot of you know, comedy stings. And there's just a lot of things that change in terms of the, the way that we made shows if you watch the the pilot of Sex in the City, they have these little Chi rods in it, there's a lot of DIRECT address. There was a lot of gimmicks that were happening around that time. We don't see those necessarily as much as we do we did then. So things are always changing the evolution of television, always changing the boundaries in terms of what you can and cannot say, are always changing. When you get to streamers, we're now dealing with no act breaks. You know, we had that it. We had that at HBO, we had the HBO and Showtime and all that. But now we're dealing on a massive scale with no act breaks for your, for your, your shows. So you have to make sure that you are keeping a structure to it so that things are moving forward. Oh, there are you have to do, you have to find a way to get people to push next episode in a way that you didn't have to before. So in broadcast from before, you'd show up every Thursday night for mercy TV, or you show up every Monday night for whatever you're showing up for. And it was one episode at a time. And now we're in bingeing. But in order to get somebody to binge on the writer side, my goal is now to get someone to binge. Well, I then have to figure out what is going to get them to binge. That means a more serialized kind of storytelling. And that means I need to find a way at the end of episode one to get you to press episode, you know to get to next episode. So that changes storytelling quite a bit, you have to figure out a whole new paradigm for telling a story that might have been really successful as a one off. Let's just say you're doing lawn order SBU and everything is self contained. Well, the good news about lawn orders to you is that you might want to do next episode, just because you love Mariska Hargitay, but there's no reason that you need to do it next episode. Unlike watching queens Gambit, I have to get to the next one because the story's not finished. So we're dealing with very, very different ways of storytelling that we didn't have before.

Alex Ferrari 36:57
Yeah, like, you know, watched castle that was, you know, that was on forever on an ABC. And that was a procedural show. It had a small arc through the season, but it was a procedural show a fun, procedural SBU. So every week basically, it was a self contained episode, but there was a small like, will she ever find her mother who killed her father or something like that? There's always that one little arc that carries throughout the entire episode, or the entire series a season. But then something like Queen's gambit. Like that's just crack. It was absolutely it was absolute

Kelly Edwards 37:31
Or squid game. If you watch squid game

Alex Ferrari 37:32
I have not seen it yet. I my wife says no, because that means I have to do it on my own now and that's gonna take me more time to do because she saw she's like, that looks violent. I'm like

Kelly Edwards 37:43
It is so it's terrible.

Alex Ferrari 37:46
I've been hearing nothing about it. I have to but I have to watch it. I have to watch it right, or Narcos, when Narcos was the first three seasons of Narcos was just like Jesus every week he just wanted to keep every week every episode you want to keep going. And it just changes the whole way. You look at story structure. You were saying evolution? You know there was one. There was one show that really changed the game. I'd love to hear your point of view on it. You know when the sopranos showed up? And David chase created the sopranos. It really just changed everything. Like it changed. storytelling and television. And you know, you had you know, Breaking Bad Mad Men, Dexter, Game of Thrones, right? All of these the lineage goes right back to the sopranos, pre Sopranos. a show like Breaking Bad would have never even It was tough to even get breaking up the air.

Kelly Edwards 38:41
I really wanted a shield Come on, it was that just before it was around the same time it

Alex Ferrari 38:46
It was I think it was either around the same time or a little bit after this a little bit after I think the sopranos was the first time that was that anti hero. In a way. It was the episode The episode. It's fresh in my mind now because I just had the pleasure of talking to David chase on the show. And and that was a that was a trip. There was an episode five, I think it was episode four or five. It was happening. It was Episode Five was called college where Tony strangled a rat. On Air, like full blown. The rat didn't do anything to him. It wasn't like the guy what? And HBO had a major problem with it. They're like you're going to destroy this character before he even gets off the ground. Nobody's gonna want to follow this guy. He's your little and they murder him right on, like a glorious daylight like it's bright and everything. And that was the moment it shifted. Because prior to that, you just saw instances of that, but you never saw the brutality of Tony Soprano. And that moment, after that episode came on, everybody was even more jazzed about seeing the show. And the executives were like, oh, things are changing. We we don't need to have a hero anymore. We don't need To have a guy who has moral a moral compass, we can root for the pet guide. And that was right. It kind of just shifted everything. And movies have been doing that for a while. I mean, I mean, Goodfellas. You know, if you want to go into that genre, I mean, we were all sure we were all rooting for Scarface. I mean, you could I mean, we are all falling, but in television that would never done never ever prior to that. So what did you What's your opinion on the legacy of the sopranos and then also these other shows that kept pushing the envelope after the sopranos like a Breaking Bad like a madman, like, like, Dexter for serial killer. We're rooting for.

Kelly Edwards 40:42
Yeah, and I remember being out there, I think around the time that Dexter came out with something similar. We were pitching something with a with a couple writers under my deal at Paramount, and yeah, it was a it became a big thing. I think, I think a couple things happen at the same time, which is, when you think about the sopranos, it was remarkable. And I would love to I did not hear your David Chase.

Alex Ferrari 41:07
It just came out. It just came out, as of this week, as of this recording. Came out right there. So you can listen to that, like,

Kelly Edwards 41:13
Where is he? Like, what is he doing now? Because I, I mean, he dropped,

Alex Ferrari 41:19
He dropped the mic. That's basically I dropped the mic situation like he he's been in television for what 40 years braved the rock for files and all this stuff. But then he was given that opportunity to do the sopranos. And when he was doing the sopranos, he literally just like, I don't care. I'm gonna do it my way. And I'm gonna be bold, and I'm gonna fight for whatever I want to do. And that's and they just let HBO let them do it. It's an it's a weird. Just everything aligned. So perfect. Right at that. The timing for a show like that. And I think and I think HBO was really trying to get into television, and they're trying to make Yeah, big swings, right? And they took that. And I actually said that to David. I was like you I'm so glad you took the swing at the back because we need creators on the on Bay at home plate, taking those swings. And I go, what would what would have happened if you would have missed because it Sopranos could have absolutely missed, right? And he's like, Oh, no, I would have just gone back into something else.

Kelly Edwards 42:19
I don't care. Yeah, it was low stakes for him, I guess. Because Yeah, for I and correct me if I'm wrong, but my guess is, I think the story was that he had it at Fox first. And they didn't want to do it. Well, it was

Alex Ferrari 42:31
It was a feature. It was a feature. And, and he he wrote a feature first and he still tried to go around town with it. Nobody wanted it that somebody at HBO pitched him an idea about it wasn't a feature about the mob. It was about. It was about a studio executive who had an issue with his mother, his psychotic mother, because it's based on his life. That's his mom. The Sopranos mother is his mother.

Kelly Edwards 42:58
So when they say right, which, you know, right, which you know, it's

Alex Ferrari 43:01
exactly that, but then someone's like, hey, do you want to do a mob, a mob show? And then he then he connected the two. And that's how, and that's how the sopranos game. And then he did pitch it. I think, I'm not sure who who paid. I got to HBO somehow. And then HBO said yes, to whatever I mean, I mean, the episodes the first season was, and they just kept going with it. But then it was just this, this magic that you can't, as a writer, as a writer, and a creator, you could do so much on the page, but then the actors show up, then the director show, then the location show up, and then you're rewriting there. And then on the edits, you're rewriting there, it's like it's, he said, it was like when you saw Tony talking to this other character, you're like, Oh, I didn't see that before. Why don't we try this? That's a magic that it's lightning in a bottle. You can't get the free, you know, this as well as anybody having the freedom that he had, at that budget range on a network like HBO is unheard of, especially at the time. Right? basically let the the lunatics run the asylum for a minute. And then by the time Yeah, and by the time the show was off, the lunatics completely, do whatever they wanted. Along the way

Kelly Edwards 44:17
Exactly. But that But see, here's the thing. Remember that? When I went to HBO, they make you read a book, at least they write made me read a book about the history of HBO, and they talk about the fact that it started off with, you know, sports and movies and Fraggle Rock, would you go that doesn't make any sense amazing Fraggle Rock, and then you've got Dream on and some of those shows that we're trying to burst out, then didn't make it really, you know, for the long haul. And by the way, where is Brian? Ben Ben, because I think three years Thank you. So I feel like then, and then they had to court. big name. They had a court people, they did court people because they didn't just like when I was at foxing UPN. We were the also RANS and Everybody wants to go to NBC and ABC and CBS because that's what everybody knew. And so when you're building a fledgling network, you need to, to entice people and so we we kept going out to people and saying, you can do whatever you want. Why do you want to do just push the envelope? We can't look like a ABC and CBS, we have to look different than they do. What? What would you like to do? We'll, we'll let you have creative freedom. I think that's probably what HBO was doing at the same time, which was like, let me bring the Michael Patrick kings over, let me bring the Darrin stars, we bring the David chases, let me bring the people who would like some creative freedom who have the ability to run a show, and who have something that has, that's a big swing, and let's just give them the keys to the kingdom. And then they had, you know, the David Simon's of the world and they they took off with that model of let's let the creator be the Creator. So I do think that there was probably an evolution to at HBO that was saying, how do we entice people over here because we need to be not the weird thing on the side of

Alex Ferrari 46:09
They were not able they weren't cable they're not even Fox or UPN whether they were networks. This is cable, it was like oh,

Kelly Edwards 46:18
How do you do that you make it really really enticing and you take a big swing on something that nobody else is going to do and what's that well nudity, it's going to be violence it's going to be pushed content and it's going to be freedom for your creatives to come in

Alex Ferrari 46:33
And as an oz came out before Sopranos which was also a very big show as well but it was different than the sopranos how they they worked it and it's it you know doing doing the research I did on on that episode just as you look at us it's just it's one of those moments that just changed television forever and and and we wouldn't have i mean i'm a big Breaking Bad fan like I love Vince Gilligan and I love everything he does and and you would have never had a show like that it barely got on yeah get right they got on to a network a network a cable network like AMC that like what do you don't you play like Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind you want to make shows now. So that's the only reason again let the lunatic in. Let's but

Kelly Edwards 47:22
I think madman's the same thing. Yeah. Matt was like, you know, he was on the sopranos, he he was right. He had this thing that he loved and, and then somebody allowed him to do the thing that he loved. And he just went for it. 100%. And he asked, Where do you get those?

Alex Ferrari 47:38
Sorry? No, no, no, I'm sorry, Matt. They asked Matt, like, would you have been able to make madmen without Sopranos? And he's like, no, first, I wouldn't have been able to make it because it didn't exist. Secondly, I wouldn't have been able to make it because I didn't get to sit in that writers room for as many years as I did, and see how David broke it down and break down his stories and stuff. One other thing that was really interesting about and I'll get off the sopranos kick in a minute, but it's, it's just good. It's just a good educational television conversation. He now he loved doing singular stories episodes, that literally didn't really feed the plot of the series. Just like character development, just like right episodes of just like, Hey, we're just going to talk about these three characters that have nothing to do with the overarching arc of the scene. That was also new. That was something that was it's not a procedural it's it's it's the right so it was like a weird I

Kelly Edwards 48:30
Love that. Don't but don't you want more of that? Yes. I feel like I want more of that. And I don't feel like I get enough of that. I feel like sometimes we are. There's so much of a draw. And again, it gets back to executives who's got the courage to just let you have a two person conversation between you know what to do a play. Why don't we do more of that? Why don't we just sort of sit in the moment

Alex Ferrari 48:53
It takes it takes a it takes some courage. It takes some courage and he was able to do it early on like episode like Episode Five college is that is that that episodes his favorite. And that's the one that really changed. That's when the sopranos became the sopranos was Episode Five. And it was that whole episode had nothing to do with the story. It was about his relationship with his daughter, and this rat that just came out of nowhere. And the executive forced him to make an scene to make the rat look a little bit worse than he did originally, there wasn't even a scene. It was just like, Tony just killed a random guy that he says because they were scared that they were really scared. It was such edgy stuff at the time. And now you look at something like Dexter, which is like you're literally following a serial killer. And, and you're rude,

Kelly Edwards 49:42
But a serial killer with a moral code. That's the thing right? And you're invited into his thought process and you understand why he got the way he got. They were very, very smart about how they constructed Dexter I think, and how you really went along for that ride because you're just killing the bad guys. And who wouldn't want that.

Alex Ferrari 49:59
It's Yeah, it's when you're writing like that. And when you're creating a show like that, or a character like that, it is such a razor that you're dancing on. It's the bullet the blade of a razor, you're just like, at any moment, you can slip and get your head cut off. I mean, it's great, because if you're if you do one scene the wrong way, or you break that code that you've created, just just a smidge, you lose your audience. So you're on the creative, bloody edge of writing. And it's this is a terrible visual, but it's all visual. It's a horrible visual, but it's but it's you're really our omens dexterous, that's why I was bringing this horrible visual into mine. But your, as a writer, you you are dancing, a very, very thin line. If you if you just go a little bit off, you can lose an audience. And that's why I think in that episode of Sopranos, the executives were like, I think, I think you're going way off the reservation here. And nobody's like, well, no one's ever gone that far. Let's see what happens. And oh, right there with us. They're still with us. Oh, they want more. And, and you keep going. But again, Tony Soprano as a character, his, his, he had somewhat of a moral compass. And he wasn't just a horrible bad guy. He was a horrible human being. But yeah, you fell for him because of his mother issues.

Kelly Edwards 51:21
Right! Well, he was but again, you know, go back to the Godfather. Everybody has a code. And they he followed the code. And so what he was doing, he had completely understandable reasons for what he was doing, even though we wouldn't do that. It made sense in his world. And I think that that's when you when you do misstep is because you completely got out of the work. Here's a perfect example of that. I was just having this conversation yesterday was somebody about walking dead when they killed Glenn. Oh, and they said they crossed the line, because that's not the world they'd set up for us. That's they completely took our trust. And then they bashed it when they bashed his head in. And I stopped watching I was a rabid rabid fan, yes, loved every moment of it. But when neguin did that, I said well, that they have betrayed my trust, and I will no longer I will no longer give them my time. So I think you have to make sure that you're working within the rules of the world too.

Alex Ferrari 52:15
So can I also say I was a rabid Walking Dead fan, until Negan showed up. And it wasn't for me it wasn't the moment that he hit Glen that was pretty horrible and painful. But for me, it was a whole season because they made a cardinal mistake in that they created a villain that was too powerful. He they never gave him any wins. You didn't I don't know if you saw that scene or not, but they never gave any wins to our heroes that we loved. The problem with a villain is they have to be able to be balanced with the hero the hero has to have the ability to beat the villain. If not, it's a boring show, or a boring game story and that's the mistake they did because there was no the whole season it was just they were just getting beat up and be rocky was getting pummeled again and again by Apollo play and he never got a shot and and at the

Kelly Edwards 53:10
Lost battle every single episode exactly right. And then at

Alex Ferrari 53:13
The end of this at the end of that episode that season, they're like, Oh, look, you got to punch in FU. Screw you, man. I am angry. And we and we stopped watching. So even a show like that cuz and then you start and when neguin showed up, you saw that the ratings just go. They start dropping, because before walking dead was like the biggest show on television. Right. But neguin showed up and they handled it. That was that bloody edge I was talking about, right and mishandled it and the zombies had got cut off, I'm sorry.

Kelly Edwards 53:48
It was such a beautiful, beautiful show up into that point, it went really well.

Alex Ferrari 53:52
It was a wonderful show. Before that, I have to ask you, you've probably seen a bunch of pilots, you've written a few pilots in your life, I'm sure what makes a good pilot,

Kelly Edwards 54:01
That's like, wow, you just completely you want to be with that

Alex Ferrari 54:05
I just making you with that. I just love from cutting zombies head off to bam.

Kelly Edwards 54:12
Obviously, there are a number of things that make a good pilot, it's not just one thing, but it's a confluence of things you have to be you have to be timely. So even if that thing does not take place in this time, it needs to be relevant to that to today. So I think you have to be seeing something that makes a really great pilot, you need a great character with a new very unique point of view. And you need a construct or a world that they are in that is antithetical to who they are. So that makes the world hard for them to navigate. And I think if you have those things, you have the makings of a great pilot. So if you think about any of your, your favorite pilots, let's get back to Breaking Bad. He is a very nice chemistry teacher and he gets into the most violent world possible. So he is a very, he's got a very specific set of skills, just like Liam Neeson does. And taken, he has very specific set of skills, he is ill equipped to handle them against a very formidable world that he is entering into. So it's completely antithetical to who he is. And I think at the time, it was very, it was a, you know, we're dealing with, you know, epidemics constantly in terms of the drug world. So, I think it's incredibly prescient kind of television making. Think about any of your favorite pilots think about if you think about scandal, I talked about scandal in my in the book, and you've got a, a woman who is a hard charger, she's a badass from the very moment that she shows up on screen. And even before that, because there's a scene before she shows up on screen. And you have a character telling another character, don't you want to be a gladiator and a hat? Gladiator for this for, for Olivia? And the woman goes, yes, of course, I want to be Gladiator. And then you cut to Olivia Pope. At the time, I think it was a different name, but cut to her coming in. And she's she the way they described her in the in the, in the script. And on screen. She's just a badass. And then she comes into a scene where she's negotiating basically a kidnapping, and then you realize the kidnapping, they've kidnapped a baby. And you just go, I'm so sucked in. And I cannot wait to see what happens next, because I've never seen this character before. So she's a very, very great, amazing character. And what what world is she in she's she's a rebel, a rebel, she's a cowboy. She's in one of the most highly regulated rule. I don't know. regimented kind of businesses in the world. She's in politics, and only that but she's in love with the president united states. So we've set everything up against her she's gonna have to come up against the most formidable foes we tweet. And it's exciting and we're, we're leaning forward. And we're all into politics. We've all been in politics and you know, Brock, Obama's president, maybe it was, even Bill Clinton, where there were really charged, you know, sexy men. And then in the, in the White House, like, there's a lot of stuff that that you can sort of glean from probably the time that it was it came out along with his character and this particular place, but you want to then lean forward into character and into the world. So if you have those things, you're going to have a really great shot at pulling a pilot together.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
But so from what you've just said, the one thing I grabbed on to was that unlike movie, because you only have 90 minutes to two hours in a movie, you generally have a villain, you have one villain, maybe two or three or group of villains. But there's, there's a very specific, you know who the bad guy is. Whereas in those both those shows, yes, there are some adversaries, but there are brand new adversaries that can come in on a weekly basis, season wide basis, that will constantly give the character the leader that lead character issues. So I'm breaking bad. He's basically you're you're entering a new world. And in that world, there is 1000 things that can kill you. And that's what's exciting, as opposed to on Batman, you're the Joker. And that's the series that doesn't work that and I think that's where a lot of pilots make mistakes, if they lean you up against a villain and that could be one villain across a season, maybe even two or three seasons. But there are also others come you really should be. And correct me if I'm wrong, in Intellivision that we're talking about and we could talk about the sopranos, Mad Men, Dexter, all of them. They're not against one person or even a small group. It's generally an environment a world that they're entering, that there's 1000 places where they can get they can get their heads cut off. And absolutely, that's what makes really interesting television. Is that the fair statement?

Kelly Edwards 59:20
Yeah, they have to have many photos. Because it's if you whether you do it it's one it's like an SBU we go back to SBU or you go back to you know, whatever those procedurals are they're going to be it's going to be the bad guy of a week. Sure. But then there's got to be Yeah, a system in place it's the world is a is a dangerous place. So I have to fix the world. So yes, it's you're absolutely right.

Alex Ferrari 59:44
And it just keeps in that and that opens you up for many seasons. You can keep going. Exactly. Like with with Heisenberg, he, there was a point there was an end point there was a certain point where like You there was even even my wife when she was watching it with me. She was like, he's he's starting to cross the line a bit. He's not the guy I started liking. I'm not rooting for him anymore. He's turning into why am I Why do I like why am I following that guy? And that that it took us off the show still was a genius, so, but there were moments that you're just like, he's not a good guy anymore. He's not doing what he's doing. And he even said, He's like, I don't I'm not doing it before I first it was for my family. Now is because I like it. And you're just like, Oh, this is awesome. He's so is. It was like what it said, is turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.

Kelly Edwards 1:00:38
And Right, right. And it's and I think that that's also the beauty of Now, again, when you talk about dreamers, and how are things how have they changed, we're no longer necessarily going to 100 episodes. So we don't have to keep it open for forever, you can have a story that does arc like a movie over, you know, five season eight episodes, or whatever it is that you can tell the story that that needs to be told in that amount of time. And you don't have to belabor it, and you can see an end game, which I think is it actually makes our content better. You know, when you think about something like lost and you go Oh, lost was probably trying to figure out Hey, let's throw another monster.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:20
They were lost. They were lost. Yeah, they were definitely go.

Kelly Edwards 1:01:23
Well, it was probably a factor of Well, we've got a we've got another 22 episodes. What do we do now? We have to figure it out. Let's bring in what were those characters the three characters that nobody liked, and everybody wanted to kill off a monster. It's like the same

Alex Ferrari 1:01:39
Monster. It was I stopped I couldn't. The pilot was fantastic. It was wonderful. But at a certain point, you just like what's going on? And you're absolutely right. They needed to fill air. As opposed to the streamers you don't like I know Stranger Things has, I think they're going to do five seasons. And that's it. And I think Cobra Kai, another big show on Netflix. They're only going to do five seasons. And that's it. Like there's an out like there's only so many more seasons, we can see how many more characters you can bring back from The Karate Kid universe. Like at a certain point you're like, Ah, okay, so now Daniel and and Johnny are okay, they're fighting together against the ultimate bad guys. Okay, they're bringing back the guy from Karate Kid three. Okay, we ran out after Karate Kid three. So how many more seasons do we got here, guys? And they know in the Creator, Mr. Miyagi is not coming back. It would have been Mr. Miyagi would have been amazing magic Pat, was still alive. Oh, my God, I know, I would have made that show even better than it is. But anyway. Let me ask you, what are you up to now? What do you What's the what are the new shows you're working on now.

Kelly Edwards 1:02:44
I am a staff writer on a new show that just premiered on Fox, Tuesday nights at nine called our kind of people it is amazing. I have had the best time of my life working in this writers room. And it was again, it was a goal from when I was first in the you know, coming out of the gate, and never got a chance to get in the writers room. And this has been an amazing, an incredibly fulfilling ride for me. So we started in May, at the end of May. In the writers room, we are now shooting Episode 107, we have an order for 12. So we're writing episodes 910 1112. And it's I learned a lot I've learned a tremendous amount. I thought I knew a lot about the business and about development before I got in here, which has helped me quite a bit. But also just being in the writers room and seeing how stories are broken, and how things change and the reasoning for certain things and how to protect characters in the show. And it's been just phenomenal. And every single day is like Christmas. I cannot wait to get to work every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
Isn't that a great feeling? It's like we skip to work. Yeah. It's like you. Yes. It's like you skip to work and a smile on my face every day. And it's it's hard for people to understand, and I'm not doing it to rub into anybody's noses here that listening like Hahaha, no, it took us a long time to get here. And now we're like, oh, I'm happy. And you know, I'm like, it's just such a fulfilling feeling. As opposed to like, Okay, I got some money, but I'm miserable. I got that big paycheck. But I'm miserable. I'm like, Oh, the paycheck might be smaller, but I'm happy. And as you get older you realize happiness is a really big thing. Much more than money. Well, it's much I mean, you need money to live but at a certain point like okay, what's, where do I have enough? And I don't have to great doing something I don't like just to get more money to do what it's like happiness means so much more. And being creative is even. And being creative is even more than that. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions asking my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life

Kelly Edwards 1:05:00
I will say this, this sort of ties into what what you were saying and what we're talking about. I got. I was married for 23 years, the last five, we were separated. So my big lesson was that I deserve joy. And I wasn't living in joy. And didn't I deserve to live in joy. And so I had white knuckled it for quite a while. Now this is granted, I'm best friends. I love him so much. My ex husband is an amazing person. We are besties, we talk multiple times, we're always on. We're always texting. So I don't this is not about him. This was about I think this was really about being in the right place. And being the right being the right me being 100% mean. And when I found the right combination of what I needed in my life, my joy level just shut up. Incredibly. And I think it was all precipitated by the divorce because the divorce in 2015, when we started divorce proceedings, the year of 20 2016 was I did a year Yes. And I just say yes to every single thing. And I ended up on six different continents got a tattoo met, the Dalai Lama was at the White House twice. I was I just had a complete I did, I asked twice, I just had this complete, let's just busted open and do all the things that I felt like I had missed along the way. I had kept living in this very, very tiny little box and thinking that I was like, Oh, I'm an executive, I've got it all, whatever it is. And I thought to myself, what have I not tried? And why have I said to myself, that I needed to do certain things in a certain way. So I just started living a bigger life. And part of that was I needed to not be attached to my ex husband. Because I felt like he was part of that rigidity of you have the kids, you have the house, you have the dogs, and you don't do certain things. So I kind of went off the rails a little bit in 2016, which then snowballed into, let's go back to two to get my education. my MFA, I was almost gonna say High School. Let's get out of high school, it kind of felt like it. But I went back to school, I applied to Sundance and again, it was I was thinking, Well, what why? Why would I ever move out of this executive box? Because I'm, everyone's gonna know me in a certain way, you can't switch? I always have that mindset. You know, I was I was drinking that Kool Aid. And then I went, well, why? Why was I thinking that? So why not change that thinking, just start to challenge, everything, every assumption that I had made about my life, and get back to what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be when I was 15 and 1413 years old, loving content and movies and wanting to be a writer. So it really did take 35 years for me to get there longer. But it was so worth it. Because again, it's about living enjoy. And why was I why was I okay, not living in joy every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:22
Oh, because we could talk ourselves into a lot of stuff gateway. Oh, God, can we? Yeah, yes. But actually, when that check shows up?

Kelly Edwards 1:08:29
That's right. But if there's one, let me be honest, you know, I, my transformation, let's just say my becoming the butterfly out of the cocoon. I don't know, for everybody, I'd like to think it is. But I have friends who complain about being where they are, and just and never make the move and don't change. And I then have to say, look, I I appreciate that you are feeling this way. But I can't listen to this anymore. Because either you do something or you don't. But not everybody is equipped to make that move. And I completely understand that. And that can be their journey in their life. And that's okay. So what I say I went out and I made a big change it just not to mean that everybody needs to go out and quit their job and completely go off the rails and do something different. It worked for me because I think I had I had set myself up for it. There was a chain of events that made sense for it. I did go back to school and might get my degree. You don't have to do that. But I was working and I was writing and then I was starting to show my stuff on social media. And I was getting positive feedback that they gave me courage to go back to school that gave me courage to go to Sundance that they gave me courage to be to say no to a big opportunity at HBO. So there was a very specific chain of events. I didn't just walk in and quit and say I'm just doing this I was financially ready to do it. I had saved some money. I was rolling into a first look deal at HBO. So I Have a support system. So there were things that happened that made it possible. But as you started off talking about the universe, the universe making plans, you make plans, and then the universe blows them apart. The universe also will catch you if you're living in that truth. And I had a perfect example of that, which is not only was when I said, I'm going to leave HBO, and when they when Christina Becker had kept coming to me, and she said, Do you want to have this big motion? I said, I really don't I'm, I'm content to sit here for another 18 months off my contract. And I'll just write and I'll just enjoy it. And I know the job, I'll just write it out. And she said, Send me your script. She read the script within 48 hours, and she called me back and she said, No, you have to do this. Well, that's part of the universe say, there's support there in a big way. And by July, I had my deal in place, I was rolling out. And I was rolling into a deal. So the universe was then providing funding finances for me. Now, did I take a big hit? financially, yes, it's half of what I made at HBO. But it was still it was enough. And that's all I needed was enough. So I got this deal. And a week after I left HBO, so it was a Thursday. That was my, my last night was a Thursday, July 17, something like that was my last day at HBO. The last day I was gonna get a paycheck from, from my regular job, and I was rolling into this deal is gonna pay me half. And a week later, I had the book deal. A week later, I got the call that I had the book deal. So again, it's the universe saying, You think you're going to fall off the face of the earth, you think you're probably going to drown, you don't know what's going to happen, you may or may not sell anything, you may or may not get on staff. Guess what I'm going to give you I'm going to show you this book, this book is going to come and be part of the next part of your life. And I had that book to deal with, deal with to write over the next four or five, six months or whatever. And it was, again another another piece of the puzzle. So I do feel as though even though we sometimes feel as though the universe's is kicking us in the teeth constantly, the universe can also bring us some of these blessings and joy that we are expecting that can help nurture and satisfy us in a different way.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:18
And where can people find your new book executive, the executive chair

Kelly Edwards 1:12:24
It's going to be released on Amazon next week, on Tuesday, the 12th so that's, so by the time this comes out, it might already have been but it's gonna be on Amazon, it will be on The Michael weezy Productions website, it will eventually be at Barnes and Noble. I think you can probably search for it online and probably find other booksellers that that will have it but but if you like it, please leave it. Leave it out. Yeah, a nice review on Amazon. I hope people get something out of it. My goal with the book is really to give people the tools that they might not have otherwise had about how to navigate some of the ins and outs of the industry and to know what's an executive head so that you can navigate that more effectively than you might have not otherwise had the had that advantage. So it's with good intentions but I put that out there in the world.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:23
Kelly It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you on the show today. I know we can keep going for a little while longer for sure. We could geek out about television for a while but I appreciate you coming on the show and thank you for putting the book together. And I wish you nothing but the best in your new endeavors and I'm not to sound condescending, but I'm proud of you. I'm proud that you that you took the you jumped it's the it takes bravery to leave a cushy job and to leave a good paycheck and and and as you get older it gets even more risky so that you did it and you've landed on your feet and you're happy is a hopefully an example that everybody listening can can take to heart so thank you so much Kelly.

Kelly Edwards 1:14:04
Thank you for having me. This has been amazing. And I appreciate what you do. This is what you do is is is just gives me like it really does I love with your podcast. So thank you for having me.

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BPS 143: How To Become A Professional Screenwriter w/ Brooks Elms

Brooks Elms has written more than 25 scripts over the term of his career for companies like Gold Circle Films, Base FX, and Broken Road. 

We connected through a mutual friend and I couldn’t wait to have him on the Bulletproof Screenwriting podcast. 
Elms is a member of the Writers Guild Of America and a part-time screenwriting instructor at UCLA Extension where he’s shared his filmmaking and plot structuring skills with his students since 2016 through two classes he currently teaches; Story Analysis for Film & TV, and Story Development.

You may have seen films and television series he’s directed such as The Ultimate Fighter, Snapshots from a .500 Season, Montauk Highway, Drew, Trip and Zoey and So Happy Together.

Elms have consulted with all levels of creatives across Hollywood, including studio directors, rewrites for the oscar-winning writer while also writing and directing his own indie feature films. 

In his free time, Elms loves to coach other writers who have a burning ambition to deeply serve their audiences. We both should be working on a project of mine in the near future, so stay tuned.

I’m always down for a good screenwriting 101 conversation and my interview with Brooks will not disappoint

Enjoy my conversation on how to become a professional screenwriter with Brooke Elms.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome the show Brooks alums How you doin Brooks?

Brooks Elms 0:14
I'm great. I'm excited to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for being on the show, man. I truly appreciate it. You reached out to me a little while ago. I think you heard me that I was gonna write a screenplay. And you're like hey if you need any help man, I'll coach you through it I'll do that honestly and I appreciate that by the way thank you so much. I don't even know when I'm going to start writing this thing but but I'll I'll let you know

Brooks Elms 0:39
One of the many things that interests me about you because I you got on my radar like like maybe 10 years ago through a mutual friend Scott who did this podcast film trooper

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Of course and Scott yeah a friend of the show yeah

Brooks Elms 0:55
yeah he's awesome and it was funny because he kept going oh yeah there's this guy Alex Ferrari like who is this guy was like all jealous like who is this guy? Who is this man this guy's bringing it you know and so I I've watched how like you always help an indie filmmakers and then it's just kind of snowballs on now you're like the Amazon of helping indie filmmakers. It's amazing. That's

Alex Ferrari 1:16
awesome. I might steal that the Amazon of helping filmmakers.

Brooks Elms 1:21
You're welcome you're welcome to it I actually you can you can use that when I came up with the the tagline for the blacklist calm. Where Where? screenwriters meet filmmakers. There's something like that. They sent out their beta. And it had some terrible you know, line. I was like, This is awful here. You should do something like this. Blah, blah, blah. And they go Oh, that's great. We're awesome. I do marketing stuff too. So it comes comes naturally.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
So how did you start in the businessman?

Brooks Elms 1:50
Oh, man, I started making movies my friends back in high school. And it was just so much fun. I I got started. I was 15 years old. And my friends came up and said, Hey, we're making a kung fu movie you want it you want to do and I was like, Oh, hell yeah, that sounds great. So we made that movie and and then we have another one another we showed our friends. They were laughing their asses off. And I was like, Oh, my guy was so completely and utterly hooked and bite. And that was in high school. And I probably made 50 short film experiments before I even got to NYU film school. Because it was just it was intoxicating. And I loved it. You know, you know how that is? So

Alex Ferrari 2:27
the disease the diseases, I call it the disease? Yes. You get bitten by the bug and you can't get rid of it. It's it's with you for life. It

Brooks Elms 2:35
is it is yeah, consumers are recovering independent filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 2:40
I'm a recovering independent filmmaker. is always Yeah, we're always constantly recovering. And then and then we and then of course, of course we fall off the wagon. Because we because we go and see you know we watch a Kubrick film or we watch a Nolan film you're like oh my god I gotta go back into God I got it I gotta make another movie. It's it's the we're we're very weird creatures. filmmakers and screenwriters. There's very strange in the world of all creatives, because it's just such a I don't think there's many other forms screenwriters are different but filmmakers need a team need to gather the troops need to get the parties together to put the tent up the pit put on the show. It is unlike any other art form not a writer not a painter even a musician could do something alone if they want to they could be a singer songwriter and do their own thing for us it's it's just weird we got to convince other people to jump on Crazy Train with us as an independent

Brooks Elms 3:42
there there was a moment So after I graduated NYU film school that summer I made my first feature and I was it was was about this based loosely on on the I play them mlu soccer team and the movie was about how our team was like perfectly average they were a great team there were a terrible team we were really good at drinking after games right? So I made this movie that was okay about about the soccer team and I was a four or five days into the shoot and we were doing the soccer sequences so there was like 3040 people on set. I'm 22 years old don't really know what the hell I'm doing but it went around I looked around I was like, oh my god this is the best thing ever. But it was it just and that's that it's just I guess it's like you know that love for movies. And then the love for creation kind of come together when you're directing.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Yeah, when you're on set I love being on set set is one of the favorite places to be and we get to do it so rarely. You know unless you're Ridley Scott who's working 24 seven every day and he's on set every week. It's it's a tough it's it's tough because as an artist, you only get to actually do your art handful of times really unless you're doing commercials or, or doing something else but like as a feature director. If you're lucky once a year, and In a retina insanity if not you're working every couple years if you're lucky as getting a project off the ground getting the financing it's a weird art form and then you're depressed every the rest of the time. And is it like you when when we when you go off set, and it's the last day of shoot, I'm like depressed? Like I go into the post so it gives me something to look forward to. But when on on the day of like this family, these carnies are my family I've been with for a few weeks now. And it's like this whole, it's just, it's such weird creatures.

Brooks Elms 5:34
It's intense. It's absolutely intense, because it's just it's such a hurricane of intention, and hope and dedication and awesomeness. And then it just goes, Oh, there's a void when it's done.

Alex Ferrari 5:46
Oh, and it's and then and then after post, it's worse. Yeah, now you're just like, Oh, I got I got nothing to do now except, like hope the distributor is gonna send me a check.

Brooks Elms 5:59
I actually love the marketing. So I even saw that film that I made when I was 22. When we finally finished it, I took it on like a college tour on the east coast. So much fun. I did that I like we showed it cuz it was a college movie. But we showed it. I showed a bunch of different colleges on the east coast. And we did like a month long screening event in in an off off Broadway space in New York that I called the New York City gorilla cinema. So I'm from the jump I've always loved the marketing promotion side as much as I love the the creation side

Alex Ferrari 6:29
as I do, as you know, as I love, I love the marketing promotion side it gets me jazzed up big time. Now you work with a lot of screenwriters. And you know you consult and you coach and you help screenwriters break through their own crap. As we all have our own walls we have to grow through Why do you think screen Why do most screenplays fail? In your opinion?

Brooks Elms 6:53
Because they Well, a we have to define how they fail right there's there's failing for story my own Yeah, story well, ultimately like if I mean it, because it's part let's take off the subjectivity right? Because what might be a failure for me might be my favorite or vice versa right so let's take that apart so let's say it's not even by the by the writers own standards it actually didn't hit the mark generally you're talking about its hero goal conflict the the hero probably wasn't as defined as it could be the goal probably wasn't as compelling as it could be. In the stakes, the conflict was it wasn't quite right.

Alex Ferrari 7:31
Now do you when you start writing do you write with starting with character with plot?

Brooks Elms 7:39
Neither I start with concept basically,

Alex Ferrari 7:43
concept. So concept would be more plot esque, I guess, kind of,

Brooks Elms 7:48
if I had a theme. If I had to squeeze one, I don't know I think concept kind of bridges them both right as a great concept, we'll have people kind of you can say in a sentence, and it'll sort of crack open people's mind, they'll go Oh, hey, that sounds like I get I get a lot of the stuff that's happening there. And it's really compelling. Oftentimes, there's a bit of an irony in there that helps you sort of unlock that sort of magic and you can do great work especially if you're a good director or you have a good director do your stuff with a sort of not a great concept right? But like when you start with a great concept everything else gets easier because of that quality of the foundation

Alex Ferrari 8:28
So talk to me about theme because I think that's also another where another place where a lot of screenplays and stories fail if they have no no no compass and the theme is that compass and they just they you see it all the time you watch some of these movies and you're just like there's no theme here there's there's just like Oh look there's a bunch of people fighting or there's a bunch of action or scares but like when you look when you study like a horror movie specifically, you study a Halloween you study you know Exorcist the storytelling is so solid that the scares are just bonus as opposed to films that just focus on the scares and not the thing and there's that theme underneath it that really is the backbone What can you tell me about that?

Brooks Elms 9:14
Yeah, that's it's interesting question so theme is tricky because it's it's a gravitational center point. And yet it's kind of ephemeral. If we kind of hold it too hard it kind of slips through our fingers and it's fine it gets more confusing right? One helpful way that feels kind of concrete with you because you can be theme is like, you know, crime pays or crime doesn't pay or or love conquers all, or we will talk about Shawshank at some sometime we hope versus despair, right? So, but like, a very sort of grounded concrete way of thinking about it is really sort of your character's misbehavior. And then their behavior. So they start out here with some sort of obstacle and problem and they're doing it the wrong way, right. And this is an expression have our own life like we've had, we all have life challenges. And when we're in no more human side of ourselves, we're not meeting our challenge and well, we're running away from something we're cowardly. We're, we're gluttonous, or we're doing something some sort of misbehavior. And, and our screenplays are a metaphor for this real thing going on in us if they're really great. It's some sort of metaphor for something we did. And we did it kind of the wrong way. And the script is about how we learn to do it the right way through painful trial and error. Your theme is a is a word that kind of speaks to that transformation. So in particular, with your idea of shooting for the mob, right? We were talking, I was watching your awesome Episode 501. RV, and I was, and I was listening to it, it was like I was interesting. So if, cuz my understanding of where you're at is, it's like you've written the book, and you know, and at some point, you want to do it, and maybe you have some great tours and might be helpful, but you're kind of like, I'm not sure kind of where to start my, to my mind, cuz that's sort of like my specialties I help I take, I take a writer, and I clarify their superpower. And I walk with them step by step on how to completely powerfully realize it. And what's exciting to me about, at least where you are with your stories, your theme is always is already so light and clear. It's like it's about uh, you know, and I haven't read the book, I'm just basically on the concept. It's about an independent filmmaker that that is so you know, urgent to make his movie that he ends up doing it the wrong way getting that with the wrong people and then realizing he can't do that, right. So that it to me thematically, you're in a really good place. And a lot of times, especially independent filmmakers, they don't have a theme that's so clean and simple. So to my mind, structuring your story, even again, having read the book, I'm sure it's probably pretty good cuz I know you and I, you know, I know what you're doing. But like, just based on a conceptual thing, what's going to make a good film, I can already see potential for how you could structure that thematically and really powerfully, just because your theme is so good.

Alex Ferrari 12:01
Well, I appreciate that. That for me is a tough conversation, just because it's, it's such a, it took me so long to get the courage to just even write the book, and the emotions that were attached to that story. And you know, it was real life. And I literally, you know, was crying through some chapters as I wrote it, because I was like, going back to the darkest times of my life. But I felt that I needed to get out there to help other filmmakers and other not only filmmakers, anybody in a tough situation that they can't they think they can't get out of, but they can. But for me, it's just tough to even think about starting to write it again, going back to that place mentally. Going back to that, that world, I don't mind directing it. And that's actually what I had to prove. It's a precondition of anybody who wants to make the movie with me, is that I have to have, I have to direct and my dp has to be the DP because he was Boris in the movie. And that was in the book. And that's it. Those are the only two. That's it, that's all I need. But I don't know, I think I might be too close to it. But I will I have to, I'll figure that out. Next year, when I begin that process,

Brooks Elms 13:05
I can help you out offline this really quickly in terms of how to, because this is the stuff I started doing. First I like I want a screenplay award at NYU doing this very personal senior thesis film, right. And it was about how I, the previous summer, I brought my girlfriend home to my hometown, and like she and my best friend didn't get along. So it was a very personal film about my best friend, I had to choose between my best friend or my girlfriend, right. And it was very wrong, because it just happened. And then and then the first feature I made was about my friends on the soccer team and how I was frustrated with the coach and blah, blah, blah, so and then when I broke through to the next level and started really selling scripts, I was able to take my superpower as a guy that could write grounded characters and tension, and then put it into a genre that was just more accessible. Because again, I wrote this alien invasion movie that was very gritty and grounded, and it felt like felt like a shooter event or a terrorist attack. But it just kept unfolding from there into being this alien invasion. And it did it did really well. So anyway, so and I work with writers who are working with all sorts of deep personal issues. So one of my specialties is figuring out how to because we have to come in from the personal places exactly what's going to make that movie really great, Alex, and yet you're right, if you're too close to it, it just triggers too much stuff because you lived it. And you wrote about it already. And it's

Alex Ferrari 14:23
and it's tough to make a move because a book is one thing but to make a movie, it has to change, his characters are going to be added storylines, and plots are going to be added that that have to be there to make it into a movie or else and that's the thing that it's hard for me to even comprehend. I'm like, well, that's not the way it happened. And even even if I even if I don't, even if on a conscious level, I say no, no, I'm gonna let that go. On a subconscious level. It's going to it's going to read or it's going to rear its ugly head. So it's your stuff,

Brooks Elms 14:53
and he will hear it and here's how I would advise you or somebody in that situation, right? Because it happens a lot. The key is that unlocking is thinking of it as the same but different of something else. So for example, the last script that I sold, it's a father and son story and I basically ripped off the the form of Kramer versus Kramer right. So Kramer vs. Kramer Dustin Hoffman in 1980 is a workaholic, add man, last guy that is actually a good father, Meryl Streep, having a nervous breakdown takes off and goes, you gotta you got to watch our kid. He's like, what? He has to learn painfully how to be a dad. And then at midpoint, she's like, okay, I've had my breakdown, I want to come back and take custody goes, whoa, whoa, whoa. Now I like being a dad. So then it's them fighting, right? So I took that basic pattern, right? And I swapped out everything, all the characters all the same. And I wrote this script, called the art of the knockout that's going into production next year. And it's about this Bare Knuckle brawler that travels around the circus in the 1920s. he fathered this kid eight years ago that didn't even know about that kid's mom dies, and they stick him into the last guy that should be a dad, his bare knuckle brawler is stuck watching this kid, he hates it and tries to get rid of the kid is awful. And then slowly learns to actually really love being a father. And that has to fight to keep them at the end, right? So it's the same but different. And when that got set up, and I was getting notes, nother notes on the structure, structured, perfect, the only notes were they had a couple ideas on how to raise the stakes and this and that. So my invitation to you, or anybody like you that has something based on personal experience, see if it helps, it'll help you to vote and to sort of differentiate it from what actually happened and thinking that as a movie. And if once you think of it as a movie, oh, it doesn't have to be the same genre, oh, it's kind of like such and such, or this or that. And then what you think of as that, and then you use what actually happened in the book about as a buffet of elements to serve the vehicle of the story. Now you're just making it more accessible, that you might not want to do all that stuff, is independent filmmaking, we can do whatever the hell we want, right? So. So you got to do it the way you want. Most importantly, and if you want to lean into what Hollywood does best in terms of concept and structure, that would be my invitation, find a form of a story that you can kind of use you because you don't, because here's the other thing that happens, Alex, I kind of I liken it to people that put like a triangle wheel on a car, right? really creative, but that car's not going to go anywhere, because it's not gonna run. So what I say is, don't be creative, round wheels, big wheels, small wheels, fine, but round wheels. And then once we know it goes, then get creative. And so for me, for you, I think the most accessible and powerful version of what actually happened and sort of vision would probably be something like that, pick up a movie that you love, and then has an it around wheels from that, and then swap it out and make it completely personal to you. And to me, that's a way of being completely 100% authentic to the to that theme and the feelings because that's what we really care about. But the actual move that story that comes out, you know, is some things exactly what happened and some things that are just there to serve the new truth of your metaphor. That makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 18:15
Yeah, it makes it it makes all the sense in the world. I just had something that was really interesting. And I think it's a lesson that we can can we pass on to the listeners is the Utah Kramer vs. Kramer structure and swapped it out. There's so many screenwriters, working screenwriters, who do that all the time, that they'll take a movie their favorite movie, and they'll swap out the theme, they'll struggle, they'll swap out the conference, they swap out everything characters, it's not like they're stealing anything. Sometimes, sometimes it isn't, I'm going to give you an example of what it was. But, but but, but you can use that structure because the hard work has been laid out. It's kind of like already having a blueprint, and you're putting up new walls, you're dressing it differently, you putting new finishes on, but it's the structure that's been sound and it works already. And it's been proven to work. And that's something that a lot of lot of stress if you especially and again, it's also a good starting point to if you start looking at a movie and you break down there scenes, and you're like okay, I'm gonna replace this scene with this scene and this scene with this scene and I'm just gonna literally copy the the blueprint of that, that's a good starting point to get the juices flowing. And it could shift a bit as you go, it's not going to be exact, but the basic foundation is is is the is the same. And I found that to be really, really valuable. I always look at movies like What movie do I want this to be like it doesn't have to be same genre could be completely different. Perfect example of a movie that we all know that started one of the biggest franchises in the world. Point Break, Point Break. Wonderful film. Love it. One of the best action movies of the 90s Keanu Reeves and all of his glory pastor Patrick Swayze and all of his glory. It is Basically it was stolen. 100% is fast and furious. The first Fast and Furious is Point Break. Look at nice if you look at it and analyze it. Fast and Furious one is the it's actually the they just switched out surfers for cars. That was the only difference.

Brooks Elms 20:16
That's the only difference in the movies same but different.

Alex Ferrari 20:20
It's the exact same movie. It's like it's not surfers. And it's the same thing. And

Brooks Elms 20:27
another interesting example of that I in the script that I just finished now I was using the model of Dead Poets Society, a mentor comes in, gets really overly influenced that goes to a tragic place, but then they still celebrate the mentor at the end, right? And I was telling people when I was getting notes, I go Yeah, this is kind of like Dead Poets as it were, and people would read it and go, there's nothing like that posts it without you talking. So I had been so creative with around and I knew the screamer No, it was exactly exactly that pattern. Those were the exact same round wheels, but they couldn't tell because I made it 100% authentic to me and my characters, despite the fact that I had a rock solid foundation. So that's I think the key for you is that if you find a way of telling an aspect of what happened that feels like really beautifully in harmony with one of your favorite movies sort of patterns, dude, that that to me, I could see you just amazingly telling that story in a really powerful way.

Alex Ferrari 21:24
I appreciate that. Well, we'll see. We'll see I got a couple things I got to do this year.

Brooks Elms 21:30
And the broader thing for everybody is like anybody anybody who's doing memoir write something that's that's starting from a really personal place. It's tricky if we're too close to it, right? So this is a game of getting a real healthy distance. It's great that you're writing what you know, because it's going to resonate with authenticity, the game is to put it in a in a package that's more accessible to more people. depending on whatever audience size you want to serve. It's fine to do something obscure if that's really where your heart is. But if you want to do something that's really bigger and breaks through with a bigger audience, they're looking for a cleaner foundational package. And you can do that just by sort of, you know, understanding how the same but different works in terms of concept.

Alex Ferrari 22:09
Now, you mentioned Shawshank which everyone listened to the show knows my my love for Shawshank. And anytime we get to talk about Shawshank and analyzing and breaking it down, I think it's a benefit to every listener. I love to hear your thoughts on Shawshank and what Shawshank can teach us as writers as storytellers and the brilliance of what Frank Darabont did with a short a short story from Stephen King. Arguably still the worst title in movie history Shawshank Redemption it's absolutely horrendous title for marketing i'd love the title and it makes all the sense in the world but try to market that movie and they couldn't

Brooks Elms 22:53
terrible marketing decision

Alex Ferrari 22:56
but what do you call it though? But let me ask what do you call it if you can't call it a redemption will be but what do you call it?

Brooks Elms 23:01
No you it's about hope you basically not and obviously not like hope this or hope that but like something that evokes hope I would love to bring some really good title for that because I guarantee you won't look you can't do worse than that title right?

Alex Ferrari 23:15
Yeah it's pretty bad but it's like one of the worst titles that I still remember it was nominated for it was nominated for Best Picture didn't win anything down. I think it was not my first screening for I think it had to be nominated for Best screenwriting might have been might have been he got like it got like three or four Oscar nominations like some acting

Brooks Elms 23:32
i think i think its initial release I don't think it did very well i think it didn't buy but it kind of just limped along and then it got some awards and it got another bump but then it really picked up I think in in video dealing afterwards Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 23:45
yeah home video and then it then became number one on IMDB it beat the Godfather as the best movie of emotion love the movie of all time.

Brooks Elms 23:52
That's right That's right so um okay so here's here's here's my thoughts on the number one takeaway for anybody listening because I know these were all star fellow storytellers is to if you happen to like the movie, or especially if you love it, the best takeaway is really theme because the way they talk about hope versus despair is so beautiful and so powerful, and so clean and simple. But again, a lot of times with theme, it gets heavy, it's really hard to kind of track but with Shawshank it's so damn clear and compelling, but not like beating you over the head of head with it. But, but really easy to track. So and what you have is a really interesting dynamic of the way it's structured. So you have read play by Morgan Freeman, who I would characterize as actually the protagonist, even though Tim Robbins in 82 frame is driving the narrative so it's unusual usually are almost always our protagonist drives the narrative. But in this case, I would call read the protagonist because he changes in the end he goes from despair. Look, you can't use hope in this place. Hope will get you killed. You have to disappear. You have to be cynical about life. And then slowly he sees Andy like an effin freight train getting beat up and raped and all these terrible things happen over and over again. And he's afraid chain of hope and hope and hope and hope and hope and digs himself out and breaks out of with a break out of prison with like under a rock hammer for 10 years. I mean, that's the most magnificent expression of hope you could possibly believe. And he finally makes it out. And I think it's such a triumphant expression of hope over despair, and we all feel both of them. But to me, thematically, it's so powerfully laid out, and I think that's why it resonates so deeply. Plus there's some charm in those characters a warmth between that friendship between those two guys, but thematically it's a great model to study if you're confused about theme, or this or that. The thing

Alex Ferrari 25:50
that's so fascinating about about Shawshank for me, is that it on paper, it's it's a horrible pitch. It's a horrible, you know, you see the trailers like it's about a prison. It's a prison movie. It's like it doesn't hide that. Only once you experience it, do you understand the depth of it. And I remember seeing that it was what 94 so I think it was came out in 94. So I had just gotten out of high school a few years. And I was with a bunch of knucklehead friends of mine who were not movie goers, and they were touched. And when those guys were touched, I was like, wow, this is this hit this cut through everything. At that time, I even felt it. When I saw it into theater, I was just like, wow, this is this is a different kind of film. And Hollywood. Yeah. It was a very different kind of film. And I always my analysis of the film has always been like what I always ask the same question, why does it connect? Because we could all just pray for a connection with an audience like Shawshank, Kaz and in work What is it about that film because it's not obvious. It's not like rocky we get why people connect with rocky we connect with what people connect with. With Indiana Jones or or sort of Star Wars. We get it but Shawshank is so under the radar on the surface, you can't What do you think? here's

Brooks Elms 27:14
here's, you're gonna love this answer, because it's clear as day to me why it connects. And you can use that for your own story. It's because we feel despair. And the despair that I feel in my life as you know coddle white male and you know, in the richest country ever, is still hurts, it's scary to me. And when I see a depiction of it like that, like you know, the guys in prison and people are coming after him and he's his physical safety's his, and he was wrongly imprisoned and all these things, all these terrible things. And if that guy can have hope, in that place, holy crap, and then have it pay off by him actually getting out because that hope paid off after like, 1520 years, and it wasn't like, like a week. And to me, that speaks so deeply to all of us, because we all face oftentimes in a daily basis, an aspect sort of much lesser aspect, but an aspect of hope versus despair. Should I even got a bed you know, you feel despair. You don't want to get a bed and but you have hope and you climb out or whatever. So but it's that to me, it's so universal in our own way, that sense of Do we have hope? Do we have enough? Is there an opportunity for something to happen? And so like for your you know, your story about this guy who has this urgent hope that this movie is going to get made and he wants? He's got this beautiful dream? And then he's in this despairing place where he's getting involved with these people that are that are difficult so it's to me what you love about Shawshank? I you can bring out cinematically and what you love about your movie. In fact, when I work with people, that's exactly where I go to so I have the list of favorite movies. And we get into why they love them why Shawshank speaks so deeply to you? What does that hope versus despair really feel like in your real life? And I? Again, I haven't read the book, but I promise you, there are written there are things that went on in your real life that you sort of associate with this idea of hope versus despair that you also connect to Shawshank. And then what I do is I connect those things out so that when people write a movie that feel that has the same sort of pattern as Hollywood but it's authentic in a way that's really deep and personal. That's when it crackles with authenticity. And so that makes sense

Alex Ferrari 29:26
that may it makes it makes perfect sense. I mean I've always come I've always had a I've said this on the show before but I think the analogy of Shawshank and Andy the friends journey is what connects with people because you feel you are Andy defraying and in many ways, many of us in the world depending on where you live in the world. At one point or another feel imprisoned. Feel like the that the universe is doing is wrongly beating you attacking you. Bad things are happening to you, and you're innocent. And you're innocent of these bad things. And then that not only does he have hope to fight through all of that, but he literally crawls through a mile of shed. Then he literally gets out of that his cleanse from the gods of the shit, literally, this shit is coming off of him. He's taking the old clothes off of him, putting on a new suit, living the life that he has been dreaming about, for 15 years. And then on top of it all, he gets revenge the sweetest revenge on his jailers. And he literally lives on a frickin paradise. And that's, but that's why I think it feels so for me, for me, I mean, let's not get into the psychoanalysis of Alex Ferrari for a second, if anybody cares. For me, when I saw that movie, I didn't feel it as much as I felt it years later, where I hadn't been beat up by the business yet, as much. I had been beaten. I had I think when I saw Shawshank I hadn't The thing with the mob had happened to me yet. It was years away. So years later, that movie took another meaning for me, because of all the abuse that the business has given me. And failures that I've had that I'm like, why is this happened to me? Why can't I get the opportunity? Why can't someone open the door for me? Why can't I have my pickaxe, and to knock into some doors, and I felt imprisoned in miles. So there was a lot of that going on. And I think that's one of those things that when people watch it, they identify with,

Brooks Elms 31:47
so and that's exactly it, right? So the metaphor of being in prison, and even getting in and crawling through the shed. And all that stuff is, is a really good metaphor for how so many people feel about their life, how we psychologically process our life. And so when you do that, your own version of that, which is really great, because like most people don't experience prison, most people don't experience a run in with a mob. So it's a really beautiful, exaggerated metaphor for most people. Plus, you've got this hero with this beautiful, innocent Sweet dream. He wants to be a filmmaker, right? So it's, the key is in sort of, the takeaway I would invite for you to take it is just look at how much every scene there's conflict and conflict and conflict and conflict. So that allows us to feel like it's earned so much when it comes a lot of scripts you talked about what are some main things that sort of trip people up in terms of a great screenplay, a lot of times the conflict isn't strong enough. They, they take a little too easy, especially an Act to be when things that's when like Blake Snyder would say things are, because when bad guys close in, things can get much harder. A lot of screenwriters take their foot off the gas, we feel bad, because we love our hero, and it's hard for them. But now we need to burn their house down we need to because the more we torture them in act to be, the more powerfully they can rise from the act from the ashes in Act Three and be the hero they are meant to be.

Alex Ferrari 33:08
Without a good villain, you don't have conflict without a good villain, you can't have a hero be a hero. And that is as simple as that. And the balance is not to make the villain too powerful that the hero has no chance.

Brooks Elms 33:23
Well, well, I would I would do I would say it is, um, make the guy as absolute powerful as you can without losing plausibility. Right, that's Godzilla. I'm not going to win. It's stupid. Right? Right. And that's Godzilla then it's a decent fight.

Alex Ferrari 33:39
Right? Exactly. I know you want to make you know, Darth Vader's Darth Vader, you know, and you want that you want Hannibal Lecter to be Hannibal Lecter. But there's a chance like Apollo versus Rocky, which is I mean that there's not many movies from the 70s that still resonate To this day, in the way that they do, you know, like I could, I could show that to a 20 year old now. And they'll be like, Yeah, it looks a little dated, but I get it, and the music and all that stuff. But the Apollo and Apollo and the thing that was so brilliant about Rocky, in the first Rocky is that rocky didn't have any aspirations to beat Apollo. That was the brilliant move, and Stallone script. He didn't want to beat him. He just wanted to stay with

Brooks Elms 34:25
him was to let me jump in to things that I love about that as an example. So two things. One is one of my favorites is the double refusal of the call. He gets the opportunity to fight the champ and he goes, No, no, I'm just a bomb. I can't do it. Right. And then MIT comes so he basically says no, at first, right? And then Mick comes over and goes, dude, I can train champions, I can train you, you know, and he goes, No, No, I don't. So the double work because a refusal of a call is always a wonderful moment in Act One and they do it twice powerfully, then to your point at the end of Act Two I To my mind, I remember correctly he Oh, he once you committed to answer the call and commit, then he's like, Okay, I'm gonna take on it'd be the champ and at the end of Act Two, he's studying the tape over and over again and goes, I can't beat him. He's not darknight insulting. I can't beat that guy. But to your point, if I can go the distance, if I can hold my own, then I have the real win, which is my redemption and my dignity. That gives me chills just speaking. That's what we all want.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
I mean, it's it's fun when eight movies now it's more still, every time we're like, Okay, I'm gonna watch another one. I'm gonna watch it again. I could watch rocky 134 bolt six

Brooks Elms 35:44
and all the non renewals not a fan of Rocky two

Alex Ferrari 35:46
I don't mind rocky two as much I don't mind rocky two, but five is we should not discuss Five. Five is not to be discussed. It just goes right from four to Rocky Balboa. That's the way and that's actually the way he did it. I think. I think even still, I was like, Yeah, I don't know what I was doing back then. But the thing that was in it for everyone listening if you if you analyze Rocky, there literally could not be a villain like Apollo. There is absolutely no credible chance that Rocky Balboa should even be in the same room with him let alone in the ring with him. And as the movie goes on, you start seeing well wait a minute, he's cracking ribs of of cows. You're giving he's got a shot now is Kenny can he possibly beat the Titan? It's like the it's the mortal going after the Titan it's insane it's a wonderful thing.

Brooks Elms 36:38
It really is wonderful and I hadn't thought about it to to to just the way you said it there but but what's lovely about that construction is at the beginning Rocky's such a low point in his life he's so severely feeling self doubt and just hates himself and it just is and what is the opposite of that Apollo Creed perfect everything just content everything's the rich yeah with a beautiful mirror of each other which is a metaphor for us and part of us always feels that despair part of us feels that that power right and the movie really beautifully. You earn step by step to the point where the part of us that feels despair finds redemption in actually not even beating that beating the world champion just holding his own against the champ

Alex Ferrari 37:25
it's beautiful and the way and I love the way you were saying the the analysis of like he's the mirror image so he's the champ he's perfect he's got everything rock he's got nothing he's got self doubt so they're opposite they're mirror opposites of each other which is exactly what a villain and a hero should be his mirror opposites but as the movie continues and this is the brilliance of what Stallone did the the characters start getting closer together thematically, he starts to lose his confidence a bit he starts to gain it a bit till at the end of the movie they're even there even rocky has gone the distance with the champ the champ has now had a lost the fight or honestly lost the fight to rocky because he allowed a bomb to quote unquote bomb to hold them off and survive against the champ so when rocky two starts they're starting on even keel yeah that's the brilliant and it's just such a brilliant way of looking at it and you look at that now it's it's just it's been stolen a million times I mean how many times we've seen rocky it's like Star Wars

Brooks Elms 38:28
That's right. That's right well yeah and and if they steal it in the right way like we've been talking about the right amount of the same but different it's amazing and that's the tricky thing like when I do my own stuff and I work with other people it's really about dialing in the same amount of the same but different or the right amount because if it's too familiar then it's like boring. And if it's too different than it's like weird right? So you want familiar enough and fresh enough? You know the same but different.

Alex Ferrari 38:54
Did you see the movie warrior?

Brooks Elms 38:57
I did yeah. The MMA

Alex Ferrari 38:58
MMA fight. I absolutely love war. I think it's a master masterwork. It's easily the best MMA movie and there had been a few other MMA movies but then nothing that nothing that hooked it. But the thing that was so brilliant about warrior and because it's a rocky it's kind of a rocky ask there's an A you can mention rocky in the movie which is great. A Rocco you can bring Mickey that but the the emotion I remember seeing that in the theater I was bawling at the end I was bawling. My wife and I were sitting there and I was absolutely just like sniffles boogers coming out. I was on the ball and I connected so well. It because of the the emotional connection with the brothers. And the end of that, but it was just such a brilliantly constructed story. And then Tom Hardy was you know fabula it was it was amazing. It was amazing. Sorry, went off on a tangent there. But no, this is

Brooks Elms 39:55
great. My next project is like it's a fight film. So I love like a raging bull is my favorite fight. So

Alex Ferrari 40:00
I mean in Raging Bull, but like, you look at something like Raging Bull, and you just go, Well, why do I even bother? Sometimes, sometimes you make it. It's like watching you, you walk in and you see the Sistine Chapel. You're like, well, I just dropped the brush right now. It's, it's been done. But the thing is, it's not it's never been done to your, what you can bring to the table, and never underestimate that power. Not that you're going to be better. But there's something inside you that Martin Scorsese doesn't have. And vice versa.

Brooks Elms 40:31
Yeah, no, that's exactly right. Exactly. Right. One of my favorite stories about Raging Bull is, is that I heard that when they went to get this thing set up at a studio, you know, dinero is in there with with Marty, and they're talking in the studio execs like, this thing. This guy's character is kind of like a cockroach. And dinero goes, No, he's not that it was just like, it was that conviction. And that non judgement of this is a human being. And I'm called the plan and that he was, he was a force of an actor, playing a force of a man. And it was to me that was like, yeah, that's why that movie is so good. The guy is really in a lot of ways. He's a terrible husband, a terrible brother, a terrible, he's what makes him amazing in the ring makes them terrible in his personal relationships, which you know, is this is a metaphor that lots of people can do. But like Scorsese, and Schrader and dinero all, we're so devoted to the authenticity of that character and those relationships, that they didn't judge them. And that made it so compelling because we all have those parts of ourselves that go too far in this way

Alex Ferrari 41:40
or that way. Yeah, there's no no question. And sometimes you you like to wallow in the dark areas of your life and you rarely wallow in the good I mean, sometimes you do, but it's it you have to learn, I know you have to learn it's a skill,

Brooks Elms 41:57
it for sure. So that's actually one of the other things I do in my own life. And when I help writers, we practice wallowing in the good stuff, because it makes it more you know, it's a marathon right? And it's easier it's less challenging to run the marathon when we have more good good feelings more often. So this this flow state I'm an absolute champion of getting people into the flow state staying in the flow state as long as possible when they get bumped out getting them back in because it feels better and be you get better results because it's more sustainable than then sort of cynicism.

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that flow state for a minute because it's an interesting thing I've brought this up on on a multiple shows that I host because his I always find it fascinating when I when I talk to you know, some of these you know, Oscar winning or legendary writers or something like that, and I go, how how do you tap into that? Because you know, like when you're writing Forrest Gump, there's something going on, like you're, you're tapping into something else. And then and it's always there's the one offs that do that want a great script, and they never they never can reach that height again. That's one thing and they were just able to get in there for a second and then they left but then there's the people that just hold that career. And they just hit boom and boom and boom and boom, and you're just like, how do you continuously connect to that that state and what is that state and Where Where is that coming from? is always a bigger like Who's the man behind the Who's the man or the woman behind the curtain sending you this this information? I always feel that we're as writers we're just conduits we're conduits of something coming in. I think Spielberg said this, that his like ideas float around the universe and they pop into your head and if you don't do something about it, someone else will pick it up. And you might get the first crack at it and that's why he's always so like it was it was it him know as Prince Prince, I was talking to somebody who worked with Prince and Prince would call three o'clock in the morning to is like a singer. And like a musician like hey, when you're done like I don't know Prince's three o'clock in the morning. What do you what do you need? Ah, do you want to do want to come in and record like it's it's three o'clock in the morning? Can Can I wait four or five hours? He's like, no, if I don't get this Michael Jackson's gonna get it and I want to record it first. It's great. It's this great story but that's a true story.

Brooks Elms 44:33
It's fascinating that you went to a musician because the the the examples that popped into my mind right away are from a few different musicians because they just hear it. So one of them was Chris Martin in an interview and there was just and you just see it, he goes, it was like he was in a listening state. He just said it just I was listening and it came through it came to me, Paul McCartney was like, one of his best songs. He woke up in the morning. He heard The song in his head he was like, Oh, yeah. Who Yeah, who sings this one? Who's this? And he kind of is, like, I'm not I've never heard that one. You know this one? Oh, he realized, Oh, no, but it was me. So it's this thing. It's a state of listening as opposed to like leaning forward. I'm writing my story. It's I'm listening to the universe in this flow state. And that's when we get to the height of our creativity. Same thing with Bob Dylan. I listened to an interview with him a couple days ago. And there it was, like in the interview was a 60 Minutes interview. He's like, he said, You were blown in the wind in 10 minutes. And he goes, yeah. And it was like, and I was looking at him. And it was the same energy. I saw around the other two, same thing with Prince he. And he was like, Well, how did you do it? And you just see him. It's almost like he's radio tuning. You just see him going here. And he was like, yeah, it just, it just came to me, he opened up in a way, and it came through. And then he also didn't, he also said, the same thing is like, I haven't been able to get to that quite flow state

Alex Ferrari 45:54
channel, that channel again, I can't I can't tune into that channel, again,

Brooks Elms 45:57
that that's what he said, but but to the people that are musicians or filmmakers, or whatever, that are able to sort of sustain optimal creative flow over decades, they have a repeatable process of getting into that listening mode, a way of sort of opening up and being soft, and you, you know, you'd have you spoken to all these amazing people, and I'm sure you see, there's almost a lightness of energy, when you talk to those people that are really hitting on that level, at least when they're doing their thing, it'll open and it'll flow and then you don't know where to hide, you're almost like a stenographer. It's like Oh, I didn't write this there's it's coming through me through me in service to the audience. And so that's one of my as a coach is one of my favorite things to do is make choices in my relationship when I'm listening to somebody to induce that flow state really deeply and as often as possible, and then when they show up on a call in and they're, they're having a tough day or whatever, I make choices that kind of just nudge them slightly up or give them really hold space I listen to them and let them unfold into that flow state so that they optimize their creativity. I love it.

Alex Ferrari 47:03
It's no it's amazing. I've actually felt that in an editing I've done that a lot like you feel the flow of the cuts and you just and then all of a sudden you're like I've been sitting here for six hours that's the state

Brooks Elms 47:16
that's all you know. Yeah. But with my

Alex Ferrari 47:19
books my two books that I've written both of them I'll go back to and I'm like who wrote this because it's just channeled through me it really I mean yes I obviously shooting for the mob is my story but the words of putting the story together I would just write and then I would go back and read it I'm like who wrote this like I see Same thing with Rise of the entrepreneur which is a it's a more of a nonfiction it's actually a nonfiction book, instructional book. Even then I'm like the concepts and stuff I know all of them but like who put I don't remember writing that. I don't remember writing this like how who wrote the book? This is good.

Brooks Elms 47:57
So so here's here's an interesting thing. So um, one of the reasons I love one of the things I did about Shawshank I Shawshank Redemption, I made this video about how you can read Shawshank Redemption as a law of attraction story, right? So law of attraction is this idea that you basically, however you show up, you will attract the energy of how you show up. So if you show up feeling successful, you attract success in general, right? That's a lot of other parts to it. But I did a video where I was showing you sort of walking through Shawshank with that lens of law of attraction. So instead of hope versus despair, it was sort of attracting versus sort of repelling. But it's significant in this context. Because when we, because some of those law of attraction people that when they're talking, they actually say they're channeling and they're saying it's coming from some people say aliens, or some people say spirits, right? And look, they might be I don't have that personal experience. But from my perspective, exactly what you said, it's like you felt like it almost wasn't coming from you. And so when some of those law of attraction, people talk about it, they believe literally, it's not coming from them. And who cares, because it puts them in a state of them being able to say, I'm spreading more joy. I'm helping people better on coming up with really deep, powerful ideas more often more consistently. So to my mind, I don't give a crap where how you're talking about it, whether it's aliens or spirits, or just like you or I see it as a sort of the Muse or creativity that comes through. If you're getting to those really beautiful, powerful ideas in a flow state. Great. That's what matters. Yeah. And

Alex Ferrari 49:32
I'm always fascinated about where creativity comes from. You know, I've been fascinated by this. Why always, I'd love asking some of these heavy hitters that come on the show of like, how do you do it? Like, how, where does it come from? And I was I was interviewing on another show, Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden. Wow, cool. And what a great conversation that was. And when I was talking to him, I was I asked him I'm like, Man What does it feel like? Being in Wembley Stadium? With 90,000? People? Like what it like, I'm never gonna get that i don't i don't i don't i don't think anytime soon 90,000 people gonna show up to hear me talk. So maybe one day, I don't know, but that's not happening right now. So, not many of us are ever going to feel that. But what does that feel like? And then when you're singing? Where does that come from? Because it's it's one thing to sing. And then there's another thing to perform at a level like that. Regardless if you'd like his music or not, is irrelevant. irrelevant. And he's like, he goes, Oh, it's not me. It just comes through me. Um, am I gonna complete I don't even I don't even know where I'm at when I'm on stage, almost. So it's flying through me. And then I go, Well, how do you get off that train? Like when you're on it? He's like, Oh, I have I have a whole routine after the show. Because like how the high of 90,000 Pete that energy coming towards you. Like as read as screenwriters and filmmakers. We don't get that the closest we get to that is that audience in a movie theater, or at a festival? That's the that's the closest we get to it. And that's really intense. It's Oh, God, if you have I've had been that I've been in that room when that standing ovations and people asking you questions, and all that attention and all that stuff.

Brooks Elms 51:28
And that's hot, explosive energy.

Alex Ferrari 51:31
It is someone like but can you imagine 90,000? like Paul McCartney, like, if I ever got a chance to talk to him, I'm like, How? Like, how is it? How do you live as you know, being the most, most famous human being on the planet?

Brooks Elms 51:48
Here's a great little poll. If you look at the clip of when he was doing a carpool karaoke with

Alex Ferrari 51:56
who's that guy does. James James Gordon James.

Brooks Elms 51:58
There's a really beautiful exchange. And it speaks to this idea that lightness of energy, where they're, they're talking, and, and he's going a while, you know, this is amazing, my dad who died if he knew that I was talking to you right now. And then Paul McCartney goes, he is he's listening. And there was again, there was this this lightness and other worldliness of how he's able to open to something. And, and Dave coordinates are crying. And that's it. And we our job as storytellers are, is to elicit emotion really deeply. And when we can get into sort of this open sort of flowing, ephemeral, sort of spiritual state, those ideas flow, and we're able to elicit motion much more deeply. And so there's a craft to sort of inducing it more often. And if you sort of make those choices, and there's things like meditation, or all sorts of different things, but like, whatever your sort of process is to find your own way. And to make that really the priority, like my priority is I get up and I find that flow state and from that flow state, all these other good things happen, as opposed to my job is to write a screenplay or to cross this next milestone or whatever those are to concrete and they put you down to sort of earthy, what you really want if you're being in the creative, professional creative, to find a way into that floaty, daydreaming state as consistently as deeply as possible because that's where your best ideas are gonna come.

Alex Ferrari 53:25
You know what's funny, I talking about light energy. You know, when I talk to some of these, some of these amazing creatives, the ones that are like that are at the top of their game. Almost all of them had an extremely light energy. They weren't heavy, they weren't heavy. Then there's very accomplished writers and filmmakers who I've talked to who who it seems like they almost grind it out they almost like by pure force are grabbing and creating amazing things. But it's their own physic almost their own will that's pushing them where someone like a Paul McCartney could just go Hey, dude. Hey, dude, okay,

Brooks Elms 54:14
here's my theory on that I love you brought it up. My theory is the grinders are succeeding despite the grind, correct that it's the flow is what works for everybody. Some people are able to more easily flow. Other people have to grind it out and haven't learned to sort of soften the grind part. And they're so good and so talented. There's, they're succeeding despite that sort of effort, grinding, hard work, kind of constipated energy. You want to let that thing flow.

Alex Ferrari 54:41
And that's the thing and that's constipated. Energy is a great word to use. Because, you know, and we talked a little bit about this before we started recording, but like someone like Spielberg, he has a very light energy to him, and everybody and I've talked to a ton of people who worked with him, you know, and I've hear stories on air and OFF AIR about Miss Spielberg and you just go I understand I get I get I get why he Steven Spielberg

Brooks Elms 55:07
I've heard that same exact thing that it's not that you talk to him and there's a there's at once a normalcy. He's totally normal and totally infatuated with the process at the same time. And that's that and that's that sort of light light balances, it's Yeah, it's amazing, it's and, and he makes it sustainable. That's why he's able to hit in multiple decades, because he's able to put himself in that flow state so deeply, so consistently in so many different variables and variations, cuz you're, it is a shark infested business, right? So can I It's one thing for you and I to kind of have a cool conversation about flow here. But can I keep that flow going, a when I'm writing and be when I'm on meetings, and see when I'm in all the more places in your life, you can up that volume of that flow state and be in there, the more success you have in to me somebody like Spielberg is master

Alex Ferrari 55:56
and you but you, but I think also the thing that stops us from doing that is just the the, for lack of a better term, the crap that is surrounding us in living life, the the crap that then in the the frames goes through, like literally, it's this heavy shit that's been thrown on to us. And that could be childhood stuff that could be anger, that can be, you know, envy, that could be ego, all of that is, is holding us down. But if you can shed it, shut it, shut it off. That's when you can become lighter and open up to these other areas.

Brooks Elms 56:35
And here's here's how to how to help you shift that, who put that shit on me. A lot of people say, Oh, it was my parents. No, no, I put it on myself, maybe because my parents were modeling it or whatever happened to my thing. But here's the powerful thing is, I created that reality as a kid, I created how I respond to that. I'm creating my reality now. So if I have if I have a shitty reality, I have the power to create a little less shitty reality, less shitty, less shitty, and eventually really magical, amazing reality. It's us owning our own perceptual system. I mean, it's got to be based on on objective reality, right? There's a there's definitely a consistent reality outside of our subjectivity. But we have a tremendous ability to choose how we respond to objective reality. And that's where that real power comes in our life.

Alex Ferrari 57:34
I'll tell you from my point of view, you know, coming up, I was an angry and bitter guy, because I felt that it was just I wasn't getting that. First of all in my 20s I'm like, why hasn't anyone recognize my genius? I mean, obviously, why don't they don't they understand? Don't they understand who I am? I mean, come on. So when that didn't so you when you didn't become Steven Spielberg or my our generation Robert Rodriguez, because he was the one that kind of like that was the that was the lottery ticket for our generation, no question. So like, if we're not Tarantino or Robert or Linkletter or Smith or any of the guys that came up in the 90s, we have failed. So when I couldn't get to that place, or for whatever reason the universe didn't open up that that those opportunities I became extremely angry, extremely bitter, and that completely stifles any sort of creativity. It stifles everything the moment I launched indie film hustle and let go of Allah all that anger and started to give and started to be of service and start writing my energy became lighter. Don't get me wrong I am perfect I'm definitely not Gandhi. But but I noticed it and this is something only us old farts can talk about. As you get older you start seeing these things some people never learn in a lifetime yeah but I started seeing that entered in then that's when things start then I made my first feature that I made my second feature that I wrote my books then doors that were shut to me all my life doors that would i would kill to talk get into are wide open now. So it was it's really interesting and if you look at some of the I don't want to get religious if you look at some of the spiritual leaders even some spiritual like a Gandhi, sure, sure. There they are not a heavy energy. There they there's a very light lightness to it and I don't want to get Fufu about it. But when we say light energy is kind of like this. You feel it when you meet somebody. People feel like when you meet somebody you just like, I gotta take a shower or Oh my God, I want to be around them. Like I don't know if you've ever been in a room with a movie star. Before I you know, when you when you meet a movie star, who is a real, real movie star, not a fallen star, not a star up and coming movie star. And when you're in the room with them, you'll go Oh, I get it. Don't say Word, and you just get that energy from them, you're like, Oh,

Brooks Elms 1:00:03
this is that's it's that it factor that they talk about. And it absolutely is an energetic thing. They're one way or another able to sort of, sort of show up with a certain type of energy that just is different than the way most people can do it. And part of its, there's an authenticity to it, and a sort of probably a lack of attachment to it. I mean, there's a qualities of how you sort of, sort of facilitate that in yourself. But you're right, they have a politician, I had a friend that met Bill Clinton, he was at some show, like at the Met. And he said, Man, after he walked on stage, and he said, he'd literally never seen somebody that like, literally looked like a million bucks. It was just an aura of energy. And he's not like an energy guy. But he was like that dude had this. And that's the thing. It's like he just, and obviously the President is there's a lot of stuff going on, right. But in terms of like, I mean, that's a need, but like, but movie stars have. And what's great about everybody that's listening, it's not anybody can do it every all of us can be we all are limited by what our own sort of biology believes. But we can be at the max of our own ability. By looking into these in your own way. What sort of spiritual shifts are energetic shifts, there's things you, I promise you, you can do in the return on that investment. It's so phenomenally better for your joy. And as you do that inside job and make those shifts, everything else is better. You write better stories, you have better relationships, it all happens, but it's got to start inside first. Like Like, if you don't do that, and you win the Oscar or whatever, you still feel miserable. And sometimes you feel even more of a fraud because you haven't got the inside job worked out.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
Oh, yeah, I've seen I've spoken to people like that, that have won an Oscar and I'm like, so what's it like afterwards? You're like, I feel worse sometimes. You know, it was cool that night, but then afterwards, then what? Then at last for a little bit, and then it's heartbreaking. It's you got a gotta get back up there again, like and then just like, this is like one of the Super Bowl like, Yeah,

Brooks Elms 1:02:05
well, that was where I was going. My one of my favorite stories around this is Phil Jackson's is he, before he like after the bowls, I think when he started coaching the Lakers, he wrote this book called sacred hoops. And he talked about when he as a player won the NBA championships for the Knicks. And they went to like Tavern them green and Robert Redford was there and Dustin Hoffman was there. And he was like, Oh, my whole life was like man to win an NBA championship. And I'm here, and he felt empty, F and felt empty. And he was like, What the hell. And it was because he was, which most people do, he was saying, the outcome defines who I am, as opposed to, I'm just, I'm just a soul that's expressing myself and my, my, my, my sort of purpose on life is to be happy is to be in this flow state. And then from there, I'm a great athlete, or great this or great, whatever. And he and for him, it was a real threshold moment that he was supposed to be the happiest point in his life. And he wasn't, it was a big part of the spiritual journey. So no, it's every day I show up every day, I chop wood and carry water. I can't go up and find my state of happiness in service to people. I love that story for you is that you found that that that place from I'm kind of a victim, things are happening to me to No, no, I'm going to take ownership in my life, you knew so much about independent film, and you started helping people this way and that way the other way. And that spiraled you up and up and up and up, and you can see it your your energy really shines in a way that's different now than it was 10 years ago. It's really awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:36
I appreciate that. I truly appreciate that. And one other area that we all go through we talked we've talked about a little bit is failure. And we all had those those those blocks those things, you know, things not working out the way you go through how do you approach failure in the business in you know, because that script didn't get picked up, that didn't sell that script, I couldn't get the money for the movie. Oh, that's that that actor dropped out or a million things that could have happened. me with my shooting for the mob, I literally got as closest to hanging out with Batman at his house. And I mean, that's as close as you're going to get literally other than being on set, and then getting yanked from you. And that threw me in a two year depression and all of that kind of stuff. So how do you break through these because we all go through it. And it doesn't matter what level you're at. I mean, Spielberg still goes through it, you know, all of them do. Yeah, they go through their own versions of failure, obviously. But how do you get through it?

Brooks Elms 1:04:31
It's exactly what I just said it's it's prioritizing flow state and joy and service above all, right, because when we can be you know, and it's and it's a practice, right, and I'm really, really good at it, and I still stumble with it, right? But when my priority is I'm going to show up, and I'm going to find, you know, authentically, you can't just be like DS, you know, head in the clouds, whatever. You have to sort of be in your body and be of spirit right is the balance of those things. And when you can do that legitimately with authenticity, differentiated from outcome, that's when you know you're nailing it. And so the outcome could be deal goes through good or deal goes through bad you can be gotta be differentiated from either one could be a health crisis, relationship, crisis, business, it's all the same thing, all those things, you will be happy to the extent those things are secondary to your number one priority is I show up, and I'm an open human being. And I'm existing, and I'm trying to help other people. And that's, again, it takes practice, but anybody listening to this, if this sounds like Oh, you know what, there's some truth in it, find your way to practice, because you can do and I promise you, the more you practice this in your own way, in own style, the dividends are amazing. And what happens is you get the end, once you get the inside job shifted, that everything else out in your life, your relationships are gonna get better businesses getting better, you're just not because you know how it works in Hollywood. So you can't be desperate, and you can't be boring, right? You're not boring, you're authentic, and you're not going to be desperate. If you differentiate from outcomes, then you become that cool kid in high school. It's like, Okay, all right, everything's fine. Everything's great. And so wherever you are in your journey, if you have this energy of it's perfect the way it is. Now, it's effin awesome. More good. Things are coming and I'm already here. Everybody wants to work with that guy. If you're the crankier one, then it's it gets sketchy.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:26
Yeah, and the that energy of death I I always joke about the desperation as a cologne. We all can smell it in the business. It's it's called desperation by Calvin Klein. And we can and we can smell it, Amelie, and I know it because I used to wear a desperation quite often, especially when I first got to LA. And you would meet one producer somewhere in a set and you'd be on them like white on rice. And you were just like, what can you do for me? How can you help me How about Baba Baba? And is the wrong way of approaching it. And it's only afterwards where you just go when you sit back and you're like, hey, that works out great. If it doesn't, it's all good. You got that kind of energy to it. People want to work with that energy is much more so than somebody like me. Maybe I can help Canada desperation. It's horrible. And I don't know about you. I've only met a couple of desperate screenwriters in life. Not many. Not many. Never just as rare to meet filmmakers or screenwriters who are desperate. No, I'm joking. I kid who I love. Because we all have been there we've all been that desperate person and if you can break through that, that's where that's why you see some people make it

Brooks Elms 1:07:40
and what's so interesting is screenwriters. What do you Who is the screenwriter, you imagine stuff you imagine worlds you imagine things so screenwriters imagine this beautiful life for yourself. And again, an authentic way, not in a BS way. But like, look at the abundance in your life, the abundance of air, the abundance of like you're going to eat today problem, you're going to have all these few friends, there's so much you can frame legitimately, again, not be asked but like, authentically frame your life in abundance, no matter what's happening. And when you do that, in using the same muscles that you write screenplays in use, imagine this grounded, beautiful, blissful life for yourself and frame it that way. There was a way it struck me. A couple months ago, I was walking to Trader Joe's with my, my, you know, 14 year old son, we're going in there to you know, run an errand. And I had this really beautiful moment of going, Oh, if I was like 10 years, or 20 years in the future, thinking back to this moment, it would be so sort of romanticized and lovely. And then I was like, oh, but I can do that now. And so in that moment, totally mundane error. Aaron with my son, I romanticize that and it was so beautiful, just to be there as a as a dad with his son did nothing. We picked up some lettuce for lunch or whatever, you know, but it was so beautiful. And that ability for me to go, Oh, I can frame my existence in a way that's really beautiful the way we might frame a shot as a director, whereas the way we frame a scene as a screenwriter, you can frame your own existence. And I'm telling you guys, the more you do that, everything slowly up levels.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:15
And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Brooks Elms 1:09:25
Um, the longest to learn? Yeah, was was that the nowness you know, that I that I have the power to celebrate, right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:38
What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Brooks Elms 1:09:43
Um, that it was not the failure. It was my response to the failure and how I what I was talking to myself about what I said, you know, because I failed, that I'm not good enough for this enough or whatever. And as I got more familiar with that voice, And kind of befriended that inner voice then the failure became a really beautiful lesson but in the moment that it happened it didn't feel that way.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:09
And what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read

Brooks Elms 1:10:13
Oh, your favorite three Oh really? yeah yeah no I hate and one of the things at NYU film school I had this one instructor that was like oh you have to watch this Lester's movie and I was like you know what if you I'm never watching them and it was a movie I would have liked but I just I resented that he was telling me I should so I'm very much the mindset that whatever you personally want to read or watch and just the amount that you want to watch it or read it is the ideal amount so five minutes in a Netflix you don't like it, turn it off, five minutes into my screenplay. If you're reading it five pages you don't like it put it down I want you to put it down I want you guys focus on what you love most by your personal perspective because to me that is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself

Alex Ferrari 1:11:03
and where can people get a hold of you and find out what you're doing?

Brooks Elms 1:11:08
Brooks alums coaching comm is my website for if you if you want to sort of explore working with me and there's two main programs that I that I do one is helping people develop a script one is helping people get it sold and and if not me I mentors that I that I because I don't I don't do hourlies sometimes people want our leads and I have other people that that I basically refer them to Although you are the guy to hire if for any sort of independent films guy's telling you because here's the here's the thing let me let me plug you for a second because he's got the Amazon of of internet information for for independent filmmakers you got right and you got everything a lot of it's free. You got premium, you got the whole damn thing. But I'm telling you guys, you don't know what you don't know. And so hire Alex for a couple hours and tell them I think I know this about making my next film or I think I know this or that. And he will go Yeah, you're right here, you're This is correct. But this, you're totally off. And you'd rather get that in one hour from a master like Alex and grow for years to figure it out for yourself and go god dammit, Alex could have told me that last year, but I didn't figure it out. So hire somebody that knows at whatever budget you can, and I'm telling you that's going to speed up your game so much,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
I I appreciate that wholeheartedly for that plugs. Or I can tell you from my experience, coaching could save you I've literally sometimes I've had someone give me an hour of their time. And they hire me for an hour and I save them. He's like you just saved me 50,000 bucks. I'm like, because you didn't know I mean, I know I've walked this path man, hire someone who's walked the path. It doesn't have to be me, it could be anybody that you feel comfortable with. But if they can give you an hour to talk into someone coaching that could be Oh my god, it's it's seen what you can learn in in an hour and 16 minutes on your story. It could save you six months, it could save you $60,000 it could save you so much time talking to someone who's just walked and they don't have to particularly be a master, they just have to be ahead of where you're at.

Brooks Elms 1:13:15
Right? Exactly right. It doesn't exam because some people will talk themselves out of getting that help because oh, I haven't heard of anything they've done or this or that or blah blah blah. But it doesn't matter if the guy at Trader Joe's has a good idea to help you with your script or whatever hire him do whoever can help you move one step forward is great. And you don't we don't know what we don't know. So even if here's what happens, this is never gonna happen. But if you guys hire Alex, and he goes, do you got it? Awesome. Yeah, I'm not worried about this, your ideas great, this is great. And he gives you no other tips other than to you are in great shape. That's like the best money ever spent, you're gonna have so much more confidence. It's so great. And of course, that's not going to happen. He's got all sorts of good ideas. But like that feedback loop is really where we make the most progress as quickly as possible. So find some sort of mentor in some sort of way. And that's the fastest way for us.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
Brooks. It has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. I'm sure we'll have you back on the show in the future day. But thank you so much for all you do for screenwriters and filmmakers and thanks for being on the show brother. I appreciate it.

Brooks Elms 1:14:17
Completely, my honor. And my pleasure.

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George R.R. Martin: Masterclass with Creator of Games of Thrones

George R.R. Martin, George R.R. Martin masterclass

George RR Martin is one of the most beloved and hated storytellers of his generation. He’s best known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE), which HBO later adapted for its dramatic HBO series entitled Game of Thrones.

Ever since HBO released the Games of Thrones television series, the world can not get enough of Geroge RR Martin. People also prayed every week that George RR Martin would not kill off their favorite character. As the t-shirt says:

“Guns don’t kill people, George RR Martin kills people”

George RR Martin is not only an American novelist and short-story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, he’s also a screenwriter, and television producer. He has written for shows like The Twilight Zone (1985), Beauty and the Beast (1987), and The Outer Limits (1995).

Martin serves as the HBO series’ co-executive producer, while also scripting four episodes of the series. In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called George RR Martin “the American Tolkien”, and the magazine later named him one of the “2011 Time 100,” a list of the “most influential people in the world.

George RR Martin’s work has been described by the Los Angeles Times as having:

“complex story lines, fascinating characters, great dialogue, perfect pacing.”

I came across this amazing master class George RR Martin gave at TIFFon his life, career advice and how he comes up with his stories. He goes into some detail on the craft of storytelling and techniques that work for him. Enjoy!

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George RR Martin

BPS 142: Changing Television Forever with Showrunner David Chase

The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today. 

As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV. 

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.

The series has been the subject of critical analysis, controversy, and parody, and has spawned books, a video game, soundtrack albums, podcasts, and assorted merchandise. During its run, the film earned multiple awards, including the Peabody, Primetime Emmy, and the Golden Globe Awards. 

Even though David has continued to dominate his craft, with other works like The Rockford Files, I’ll Fly Away, Not Fade Away, Northern Exposure, Almost Grown, Switch, etc, he is still most known for his television directorial debut, The Sopranos.

The genius is back with the Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, which stars Alessandro Nivola and James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini as a young Tony Soprano. It has been in theaters and on HBO Max since October 1, 2021.

The plot explores the life of Young Anthony Soprano. Before Tony Soprano, there was Dickie Moltisanti, Tony’s uncle. Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the increasingly race-torn city.
Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities-and whose influence over his nephew will help make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we’ll later come to know: Tony Soprano.

We also talk a bit about David’s five-year, first-look deal to create shows for HBO parent WarnerMedia. More culture moments, please!

Let’s get into the chat, shall we?

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with David Chase.

Right-click here to download the MP3


  • David Chase – IMDB
  • The Sopranos (Season 1) – Amazon


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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome to the show, David Chase. Thank you so much, David, for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.

David Chase 0:16
Nice to see you.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Thank you, my friend. So, you know, I'd like to just start off with how did you get started in the business? How did you What was your first entry into this business?

David Chase 0:34
I went to film school. And while I was there, I co wrote a script, a spec script, which our film, which our screenwriting teacher sent to a TV producer named Roy Hogan. And so we created Maverick. You know, that is, of course,

Alex Ferrari 0:57
it was Jim's spot for us, I think garden

David Chase 1:03
Maverick and run for your life and a bunch of other stuff. And he liked the script, my friend had given up and go back to Chicago. And like a year later, this guy called me or I don't forget, we got he got in touch with me universal, gotten in touch with me and said to call him and he hired me to do an episode and professional writing job.

Alex Ferrari 1:34
Now how but what made you want to become a writer? What made you want to become a filmmaker in general?

David Chase 1:43
Well, something was drawing after a certain age. In high school, I think something was drawing me to what we now call showbusiness. Right. And we call it that then, but it wasn't showbusiness that was drawing me it was. I didn't realize it then. But it was art, I guess. We didn't say it was pop art, but it was art. because of things like Twilight Zone

Alex Ferrari 2:21
I chose.

David Chase 2:23
But mostly, it was the Beatles and The stones that plan doing that got me interested in creating things. And I wanted to be a rock and roll performer for a long time. I played the drums and I was also lead vocalist in this nothing band that never went anywhere. And at the same time, I was I had switched schools and I was going to school. No, no, I remember now see you ever gonna regret this? I went to a school, a college in North Carolina called Wake Forest college, which is now Wake Forest. University. And it was a very, I don't know why I went down. There was a was a mistake. There was the South in 1963. And the Klan was active and all those bad things were going on. And I don't think there was one black student there was one black student in the freshman class. And I believe he was from Africa. And Ghana gambling wasn't allowed on campus. Dancing wasn't allowed on campus. Drinking wasn't allowed on campus and playing cards was not allowed on campus. It was it was the Sunday I don't know whether they owned it or who was affiliated with the southern baptist church. And somehow or other on Friday nights. So you can imagine. Listen to Tim. Well, here's the thing. It was still. It was a good college. I mean, the teaching was good. It wasn't really anti diluvian. You know, we're not talking about Jerry Falwell Academy or whatever. And on Friday nights, I don't know who did it or why they had a foreign film night. And so I saw Well, you name it. All the ones you need to see. I saw eight and

Alex Ferrari 4:35
of course our Fellini. Yeah.

David Chase 4:37
Yeah, it is. I mean, I don't know how many weeks you're in the semester, but it's all one every week. And I was I was completely blown away. I mean, I had like movies. And so I was a kid and I like television, you know, I just liked it. And maybe always wanted to be part of something like that. So I saw I saw those movies. And then comes Bob Dylan. And then comes the Beatles, and within a few months, the Rolling Stones, and that to me, was art. And that's what I wanted to do. And I had seen one Fellini film the age of 15 or 16. It was part of a trilogy. I forget what it was called but the his part was called the something of the temptation of Dr. Antonio anyone I've seen a movie like that. I couldn't conceive. It was just so wonderful. It was so imaginative It was so out there.

Alex Ferrari 5:52

David Chase 5:54
always loved movies but I'd never seen a movie like that.

Alex Ferrari 5:57
So all those years that you were working in, especially in the early years working in the writers rooms on on shows like The Rockford Files and and things like that. Did you what was the biggest lesson you took out of working in a writers room like you know either tips or tricks that to survive in a writers room or thrive in a writers room or how to crack a story? What does that less than that the one thing that you took from the early years

David Chase 6:25
well, I did not work in writers rooms until until I got the Northern Exposure okay there were no writers rose at the time when I was starting Rockford house was written by Stephen Cannell Juanita Bartlett, me and occasionally Gordon Dawson. There was no writers rooms and we our whole way of breaking story was different. And I before my time, I guess when I was still a kid, the standard I guess the Writers Guild definition of television was there was a producer, a story editor. And like for the defenders, you know, that is I remember the defenders. Yeah, but the defenders are Naked City or whatever. There was a producer, a story editor at an older writers were hired from a freelance world of freelance writing. And we've got more and more group oriented as time went on,

Alex Ferrari 7:37
do you like the older way or the writers room way?

David Chase 7:47
I think I like the writers room way. Honestly, because you could, you were swapping stories and memories. I mean, the other way was great, too. But when you sat down to break a story, that's what you did. You talked about the story. And it had very little to do with your real life. But writers rooms for whatever reason, at lunch, or even whatever it was, people would start the bullshit, start to shoot the shit. And that was always fun. Obviously, it's like, you know, like, seminal guys hanging out at a gas station in Virginia, you know. And let's read a lot of the stories we come from. If you and I were in with six other people, you tell a story about what happened to you when you crash the car into your father's station wagon or whatever. And that becomes a story somehow not in that form. But of course, it was a story. And I really liked I liked the socialization of the writers.

Alex Ferrari 8:51
Now when you when you had the idea for the sopranos, how did the sopranos come to, to life into an agenda?

David Chase 8:59
It came to life because my mother Norma Jace was I would say, mentally ill. And he took care of me. He wasn't like institutionalised, but he took care of me if you worried about me, she was a good mother. She did. But she was full of fears, obsessions, hatreds, and all that which was passed down to me. And also which were many of which were ludicrous. And I would tell people stories about my mother and I would always get a laugh and I My wife said to me when we got we weren't of your late 20s. So you got to write something about your mother someday, you got to write a show about your mother. And I didn't, didn't have any idea of how to go about that. And then later on, I was doing a show. I was I created and was running called, almost grown. And one of the writers Robin green said, you ought to write a series about your mother, like a producer with a mother, a troublesome mother. And I, I heard that, but I thought, who wants to see that a TV producer and his mother looks like anything. And then I realized, well, maybe if it was a tough guy who was a guy in the mafia, and his mother, maybe that would be good. And I tried to pitch that as a movie with Robert De Niro and Anne Bancroft. And wasn't much interest in my agent told me forget about it, mob comedies are going nowhere. And mob movies, so I let it be. And then someone. Years later, when I was signed with a company called Brillstein gray, to develop TV shows, they told me that they thought, how would I like they said, I had a great sick TV series, and it's inside me. I had never thought of and didn't want. I wanted to be in the movies. I was intelligent, because I'd gotten in there and and took the jack took the money. But I didn't want to be there. I want to I was always writing movie scripts on spec. So they said, How about do a TV version of the Godfather? And I said, No, I have no interest in that random. I thought the Godfather has been done. You get a bunch of guys, long coats and 50s cars. And then I was driving home. And I thought I'm going to a movie but the model mid level mobster with a troublesome mother tries to kill him because she, he put her in a nursing home. I thought maybe that'd be a TV show. And about him and his family and his work. And maybe that would work in TV because it's got a lot of interesting women in it. And TV, in many ways is kind of a was a woman's medium. At least that's what I thought. And so we pitched it to Fox, they bought it. I did a script. They didn't buy that. But two years went by Brad gray, the head of the company, went to Chris Albrecht at HBO told him the story pitched it to him. I went there. And then there's it also in my version, they bought it.

Alex Ferrari 13:02
And so when you when you started doing the it seems to me from watching the series, that I mean, you were breaking rules left and right. I mean with the you know, with Tony Soprano is the protagonist and, and the anti hero and television It was kind of like not really, there was nothing like that in network television before. No, nothing like that before. And you You didn't just sit on that you kept pushing. You kept like Episode Five, specifically a college, which is one of my favorite episodes. It's really a game changing episode because of the way Tony is the first time you see the main character of a TV series, do some extreme violence. On screen. No, no fluff. I and I've heard from from other interviews, you've done that. At the studio, HBO was like, you're going to you're going to destroy the show before I even get started.

David Chase 14:00
Chris Albrecht, who never gave me a moment's aggravation about anything. And said some very smart things when we were getting started. Crystal Breton's really angry. And I said, Well, you had the script. You know, that's the purpose of giving you the script. So you read it say they at that time before we spent all this money. Stop. Well, it didn't dawn on me until I saw it on the screen. Anyway, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:33
And, and, and I also notice that you love to do kind of almost one offs. Kind of like episodes that are standalone, that are not specifically about the overarching plot of the season, which is also against the grill against the grain as well, because normal normal shows, at least prior to its paranhos would you know every episode had to move things along, but you almost went to crap. character development in life, specifically, episode college. You know, it really didn't have anything to really do with the overarching plot. But but the development of Tony Soprano and his daughter's relationship is, is game changing? Is that is that did you did you love going into this when you were doing series? to do these stand? alones just to kind of explore characters? Oh, yes,

David Chase 15:26
I did. Well see, my whole thing was okay, I've got a, they want me to do 13 episodes of this thing. But what I can do, what I want to do is 13 little movies that are just making movies. But with this show. And I think it was, I don't know, HBO or Brillstein gray or whoever it was said notice the the the episodes she tied together, there should be an overall plot in in the season, and I was really against that I don't want to do that. It's I said, it's gonna be like Dallas, like a fucking soap opera. I don't want to do that. Right. And I don't know whether they talked me into it. All right. I just knuckled under. And actually that you know, they were it. I think we really made something that I think it became one of the best part to the show.

Alex Ferrari 16:32
But you but when you're doing all of this, I mean, you're you're really going against the grain on on so many things of television. I mean, when you were doing the

David Chase 16:44
officially because you said something like normal show, all the episodes would have to be connected. Not true. Most television the episode, it's the same fucking characters, but the episodes are not connected. Just Maggie and David, fall in love. Next week. Maggie and David are involved.

Alex Ferrari 17:08
Yeah, but like you were saying like Dallas like soap operas, it was kind of like that kind of overworking thing is what I was talking about. But when you were in the middle of season one, when, you know, did you know that you were pushing in breaking these rules that had been in place for so long? With these characters? Did you? Did you consciously understand that you were really just, I'm just gonna do whatever the hell I want. And, and I'm just gonna go for it.

David Chase 17:31
Yes, I did.

Alex Ferrari 17:34
That's exactly. So you're literally just like, I know what I'm doing. And I'm just going to push the envelope to see how far I could push it before someone stops me.

David Chase 17:43
That's true. Except for I did not say I know what I'm doing. Usually what I said was, okay, put your money where your mouth is. And it's all a big experiment. And that's what life is like. So

Alex Ferrari 17:59
you just went in? Yeah. You just wrote this kind of like, Okay, let's go. Let's see what happens.

David Chase 18:04
Yeah, I had been in the TV business a long time. And I was so fed up. And I hadn't gotten. I hadn't gotten my dream come true, which was to make movies. And I've been in TV a long time, I was thoroughly fed up and disgusted with network television. And I was 54 years old. And I thought, you know what? If it doesn't work, doesn't work. You'll have to come back and try something else, if they'll let you back in.

Alex Ferrari 18:40
So this was your swing at the play is what you said this was basically a similar play.

David Chase 18:44
That was it. That was my swing at the plate. And and I'm trying to keep the baseball analogy alive. But

Alex Ferrari 18:54
it's either well is either I mean, if when you take big swings like that, which I'm so glad you did. But when you take big swings like that you could easily strike out and then kicked out and get kicked out of the ballpark, which could have very easily happened with the show. Or you hit a Grand Slam, which is

David Chase 19:10
right. Yeah, right. And whichever happens more often a Grand Slam or getting escorted out three to nothing.

Alex Ferrari 19:20
Or getting escorted out of the game, period and make sure that when he can't play anymore anyway. Now, I'd love to hear your opinion is what is the job of a writer in network television today? What should they be? What should their goal be?

David Chase 19:41
What is the job of a writer and network television to the

Alex Ferrari 19:45
story wise, story wise or what you know, just in the end the craft of it not as much the actual technical job at the the craft of it. What should they be striving for?

David Chase 19:56
Well, I mean the way you phrase it If it's a job, that means you've been hired to do the job. Yeah. You have to give them some with what they want. That's why you're there. No, that's not why you're? No, yes, it is. I mean, you're there because they saw something which they think could be beneficial to them. So you need, you need to be aware of that. But you have to express yourself, that's your your, they wouldn't want you to, they wouldn't want to say this. Your job, if they're paying you for it, is to express yourself the best way you can, as completely and thoroughly that honestly,

Alex Ferrari 20:59
in the entire run of the series. Was there an episode that you said, I think I might have gone too far? No, not one.

David Chase 21:08
You just know, we're somewhere I said. I don't I don't like this as much as other ones. The Italian of the trip to Italy. probably could have done with that. But no, I never thought we would go too far. Never.

Alex Ferrari 21:25
And I also and I know I mean, one of the more controversial parts of the entire series was the ending. I personally loved the ending because of what the ambiguity of it and that he I know everybody wanted to see Tony's face in a bowl of Marin era, but many didn't. Many did. Many did. But you see, that's the thing. It's so it's like you're either on one camp or the other. But I just love that you left it open to the interpretation of the viewer. And I love the song that you chose is at the end, which was a nice nod.

David Chase 22:03
Well, you know, Steven Van Zandt, please Silvio, and, you know, was guitarist in any street van was in Florida when the last show aired. And he had booked an appearance the next morning on a talk show, radio talk show. And he All he did was defend and fend off all this criticism, people cursing at him. That's horrible. You know, motherfucker, this and we got robbed and all that stuff. And finally, he said, All right, well, what's your ending? Did you want to tell you to be killed? Oh, no, but you want to be here? Oh, what? Did you want to get away with it all? Oh, but I mean, well, what's your what's your great ending? Let me hear it. And most of them just, you know, some of them went away saying I see what you're saying. Now. I'm sure what they're really thinking was I'm not a professional writer. Don't ask me what I would have done. David. Jason had done what he was supposed to do. But nobody knew what that was.

Alex Ferrari 23:17
And honestly, as much as it's kind of, you know, divisive. You're absolutely right. Like, did you want to get away with it? Did you want him to die? Did you like there's no way to make everyone happy? There's just no way?

David Chase 23:29
No? Well, not many people have made everyone happy. You've seen the Wizard of Oz?

Alex Ferrari 23:36
No. But with the with the show with show endings in general are very difficult to pull off. I mean, did you when you were going into that last episode? What would I mean? I mean, I can only imagine the pressure that you were under, just because of the fans and everybody and it was the biggest show on HBO when all this stuff like how do you feel as a creator when you're ending something that you created?

David Chase 23:59
Well, the show was so popular. And it was such a you know, at that period of time, you'd read a news. People would always in newspaper Ruby's editorial, that's what Tony Soprano would have done. Or that guy behaves just like one of the sopranos. You kept hearing that all over the place. Sopranos Sopranos, Sopranos, it was that it was a phenomenon really not just a TV show. And I guess, like gave me a lot of balls.

Alex Ferrari 24:36
That's so big because of the success. It gave you the the wind underneath those wings.

David Chase 24:41
And most likely, had it not been a big success. It would have probably been more angering to a lot of people who knows what I would have done out of anger and disappointment. Just Kneel ism?

Alex Ferrari 25:01
Did When did you realize that? Or did you ever realize while you were making the show that it's kind of changed the game a bit, because after obviously years after all these other great shows with anti heroes like Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Dexter, which were some of the writers worked with you on your show? At what point did you kind of realize like, I think I might have changed the target directory of television? I mean, that's a fairly large statement to say. And maybe you don't want to say it. But many people have said it. Did you ever realize, like, maybe I've given other creators, I've opened the door for other creators to explore these kinds of characters.

David Chase 25:41
Well, that's a hard one. I guess I did feel that way. Good. This, other people can now do more interesting stuff. But what I also saw was like a lot of like, copying Sopranos I don't mean, like plagiarism, but just not doing something really, like the sopranos was way off the mark for network television. And I was hoping I guess that people would start to do things that were way off the mark. But they didn't really, you know, I was good shows. But I did feel that I felt glad that something had cracks and couldn't be replaced. I did, I did feel that way. But I remember saying at the time in print, which is also true, I don't take responsibility for any of those shows. But I don't take any blame either.

Alex Ferrari 26:44
That's a great, it's a great way of looking at it. Now, what made you want to go back to the world of the sopranos with the many saints of Newark? How did you Why did you? How did that come to be,

David Chase 26:57
you know, in 2012, coming off as, as front as over in 2007. And my dream was coming true, I was hot, and I was gonna be able to do a movie, or two. And I could do anything I wanted to do. I remember my agent telling me that back in 2004, you're a brand now you can do it, whatever you want to do, you'll be able to do. So we've reached the end of the sopranos, what I wanted to, and I wanted to do the story, semi kind of autobiographical about a rock'n'roll band in New Jersey that never makes it. And I wanted to do that. And I thought people would like it. And I got a chance to do it. Because Brad gray, who had been an executive producer with me on the show on Sopranos was now head of Paramount Studios. And he gave me the money to do that movie. I don't think any other studio would have done that. I don't think that movie was going to get made. And move No, but nobody went to see it. Nobody saw it. I mean, a few people did. And some people thought it was very good and liked it, but it was basically ignored. And there's a reason for it. Really, if you want to tell me the movie was shit, I wouldn't argue with you. But I also know that the movie had no support, or no marketing support, no advertising, because the guy was really in charge of that hated it. Anyway. So from that I did a couple of other projects. I wrote a couple of other things. One for HBO, which fell apart because of money budget. And then another another feature that Paramount bought, but they would only make it was an A list actress. And we got some actresses that were interested in doing it. But they weren't big enough. They couldn't open the movie, right? So I wasn't really doing anything. And then there was some illnesses in my family. And they had a warner brothers had been after me for 14 years, having coffee and talking to make a Sopranos movie. And he right around that he hit me again. And I thought you know, my friend, Larry Connor said, Yeah, you should do this. We should. You should work. Let's get back. And as well, this will get made you back.

Alex Ferrari 29:39
And that's it. And that's how it came back to me. And with the with the release of the film, how? Oh, hopefully it's going to be it's going to be released. I think, as of this recording, a Friday, Friday, Friday. What do you hope to happen? How do you hope the fans Receive the film.

David Chase 30:04
They love it. They love it. We had a premiere in New York. I've never been through anything like that in my life. The amount the amount of joy, excitement, laughter, suspense, it went over like, gang, like gangbusters. That's amazing. Unbelievable. I can't even express it. 2000 people in the Beacon Theater? Will we ever have another audience like that? No.

Alex Ferrari 30:39
That's amazing. Now, with all the success you've had over your career, what advice would you give a writer starting out in the business today?

David Chase 30:57
Well, you have to write. You can't talk about writing. You can't plan out stories that you don't write. You have to write as much as you can. And there is no simple no single way to quote unquote, make it just any opportunity that comes along. That brings you closer to the business say yes. Even if it's not what you're interested in doing. Just say yes. You will learn something from it, and you'll be one millimeter closer. I even use that phrase to business, you'll be even closer to a lot of people okay to business. You'll be one millimeter closer to your dream of being an artist. I mean, obviously, if you have to clean toilets, you're gonna say no, but Well, I don't know about that.

Alex Ferrari 32:02
Well, I mean, if you're cleaning toilets in the mailroom, it's like the mailroom is a perfect example like that.

David Chase 32:08
Yeah, say yes. Because you won't be cleaning toilets for long you're gonna be promoted in the mailroom. And then from the mailroom you go on, but you know, that's really attract to being an agent or a producer. Sure, of course. Oh, mailroom sorry. Yeah, what?

Alex Ferrari 32:34
The game has changed so much the game has changed so much over the years,

David Chase 32:37
the game changed so much. And well, we will go into that. I wish I could say something that

Alex Ferrari 32:52
Well, let me ask you this

David Chase 32:54
bold, but I guess it just be bold, on the page, and in the road, or on the street.

Alex Ferrari 33:05
Great advice. Not when you're about to sit down to write something like when you set when you sat down to write the the many saints in New York? And how do you be? How do you do outline? What is your process? When you're writing? Do you outline? Do you start with characters when you're starting a new new project? Or are you starting with plot? How do you approach the craft?

David Chase 33:28
I've done it both ways where we outline outline the whole movie or TV, well, each one of Sopranos episodes was complete outline, that you will see the outlines, you would say, this is really like naked, there's hardly anything here. That's true. It was just the scenes in order. It was the writers job to bring that to life. I've done it that way. And I've done it where you just start writing. And I think probably most of the great writers just start writing.

Alex Ferrari 34:04
Because they've already have a lot of the stuff that you have to work on in regards to structure and, and subplots. It's what it's

David Chase 34:13
about is they, they don't really know what they've got. But you only find out what you're doing. from writing.

Alex Ferrari 34:24
From just going down the path, you only find

David Chase 34:26
out Well, really into reality, you really only find out what your movie is, or your TV show is after you've edited it. Because all those pieces that make up the show can be rearranged to it the only difference where the emphasis is completely changed. And what you thought it was about isn't what it was about. Because two actors who sparked off each other. We're not around when you wrote it. But now you see all of that relation. That's when you Yeah, and I know, that's what's so great about it. They call it a plastic medium. And that's what it is. But they can be moved on.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
Yeah. And it's like, As the old saying goes, you write you, you write the story three times, once you write it, once you shoot it, once you edit it, each one is a different, different version, or draft of the story.

David Chase 35:22
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, exactly. Yes. All right. When you

Alex Ferrari 35:27
write, do the characters talk to you? Do they? Do they talk and you dictate? Or do you like, because I've heard that so many times from writers where they're like, I've just said, I'm just a dictator, I just do this. But is that the way it works for you? Or do you creating the dialogue for them? Feeling it?

David Chase 35:45
I've had it happen a couple of times, where there was this transcendent experience, where I felt that some power was working through me. But that doesn't happen all the time at all. But do it to the characters speak to me, like say, hey, David, do this and David do that? I don't

Alex Ferrari 36:08
know. Like the dialogue like, you know, two people sitting in a room and you're just like, you're sitting in a room,

David Chase 36:13
I pictured it. I picture a conversation we do. And Tony and Carmela and I

Alex Ferrari 36:25
just talk,

David Chase 36:27

Alex Ferrari 36:28
you touched on something there real quick, when you said you had a transcendent moment. And I mean, I've had it and so many other writers and creators have it it's almost the zone, or when you feel like something is you're channeling something. You're like, when you're writing, and you're like, Who wrote this? This is this, this, I don't know who wrote this, and let's just spurts out of you, without you actually thinking. It's worthwhile. It's in those moments when you can, when you can, when you can literally, I don't know, tap into tap into that thing that brings in the creativity, where it's just flowing through you. And you're just a conduit.

David Chase 37:06
I think it's the closest we come to being a musician.

Alex Ferrari 37:11
Yeah, that's right.

David Chase 37:14
Yeah. And being a musician. I mean, I have always wanted to be one and I have great. What do you call? Jealousy, especially to be one of four musicians and you are playing together? One going off the other and it's coming out of your head. There's no pre that those moments when you're writing are the closest we come to that?

Alex Ferrari 37:41
Yeah, like I can only imagine Lennon and McCartney. I've seen some of those, those sessions when they were just like writing stuff. And just like, like, all of a sudden, hey, Jude just showed up.

David Chase 37:50
Like, right? No, I mean, I mean, those sessions where you're writing big, um, something's working through me or when you're finished, you go, woof. I was always coming through. I mean, a musician playing. It's the most like playing music. Got it. But like you're it's all you're you're feeling all of it. You're not thinking it.

Alex Ferrari 38:17
Now, is there anything you've learned from your biggest mistake? Or biggest failure in your career? Something that a lesson that you learned from one of those?

David Chase 38:49
Don't take the money?

Alex Ferrari 38:52
It's a great. Don't, don't do it for the money. Don't do it for the money. Alright, and working? And where can people watch the new movie?

David Chase 39:06
Their movie theaters, movie theaters? That's it's also going to be on I shouldn't even say it's also going to be on HBO max on the same day, October 1. Okay. As it opens, the mutated it's going to be on on TV. I'm disgusted by that. But

Alex Ferrari 39:24
I would say everybody goes see that in the theaters without question.

David Chase 39:27
It's really good. And you didn't do that.

Alex Ferrari 39:30
I couldn't good. I couldn't. But But David, thank you so much for your time. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. And thank you for all the work you've done. And everything you've done for television and for storytelling in general. So thank you, my friend.

David Chase 39:45
Thank you. And those are good questions.

Alex Ferrari 39:47
Thank you, my friend.

David Chase 39:48
Okay. Bye bye.

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BPS 135: The Way of Story with Catherine Ann Jones

We have award-winning author, playwright, actor, teacher, and writing consultant, Catherine Ann Jones on the show today. She’s authored a number of consciousness-raising books, plays, film, and television scripts, including, The Christmas Wife (film), Unlikely Angel with Dolly Parton, The Way of Story: the craft & soul of writing (book), Freud’s Oracle (Play), and several others.

Unlikely Angel stars Dolly Parton who plays a self-absorbed singer who meets an untimely death and gets an opportunity to earn her wings if she helps a family lost in the tragic death of their Mother find each other again. This should be a Holiday movie tradition.

In our interview, we talk about her book, The Way Of Story which offers an integrative approach to writing all forms of narrative.

This illustrated book contains evocative insights from the author’s own professional journey. The emphasis on the integration of both a solid craft and an experiential inner discovery makes this writing book unique.


She helps others on their writing journeys through workshops, consulting, and writing

Following her passions for truth-seeking and dramatic self-expression Catherine’s written six books. Her most recent book is a 2013 publication, Heal Your Self With Writing.

Catherine was a writer on the popular 90s TV show, Touch by an Angel.

The series generally revolved around the “cases” of Monica (played by Roma Downey), an angel recently promoted from the “search and rescue” division, who works under the guidance of Tess (played by Della Reese), a sarcastic boss who is sometimes hard on her young colleague but is more of a surrogate mother than a mentor. The trio of angels is sent to Earth to tell depressed and troubled people that God loves them and hasn’t forgotten them.

Let’s delve into Catherine’s writing process and how she helps others achieve excellent stories, shall we?

Enjoy my conversation with Catherine Ann Jones.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:07
Catherine, thank you so much for coming on the show. I truly, truly appreciate it. We had the pleasure of getting to know each other on one of my other shows. And we've just started talking like, Well, I think you'd be a great guest for the next level soul podcast. So thank you so much for coming on. Glad to be here. So I wanted to dive right in. And it's just a heavy question to start with, I'm going to start with it anyway, to see how where our conversation leads. What do you believe is your mission in this life?

Catherine Ann Jones 0:40
Well, in India, where I've spent several, many years, there's a word Sanskrit word called dharma. And Dharma means the law of your existence, it's more than career or job. It's what you were kind of what you came here to do. And if you can be fortunate enough to hook up with, you know, to know what that is, life really becomes magical. So I think my Dharma is writing and teaching. I love both. And I'm fortunate that I've been able to do both.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
And you've been able to, and you've done so much in your life, start, you know, acting and play writing and you know, playing in the shark infested waters of Hollywood, survived and survived with a smile on your face no less. Did you? How long did it take you to find that path? Because I'm assuming when you came out, you didn't like Well, I'm gonna go right and teach. I'm assuming it took a minute to get there.

Catherine Ann Jones 1:48
Well, when I was 12 years old, I wanted to raise Arabian horses.

Alex Ferrari 1:54

Catherine Ann Jones 1:55
When I was 18, I wanted to be a missionary in foreign lands. That last my first year of college, then I read and thought too much became an agnostic. And so I had been acting, so I switch to universities to drama school. And then my passion was acting, which I did for several years in New York. And, but I always had a parallel passion. I guess what we called it, finding the truth, whatever that is, you know, at that point. So those parallel instincts pulled me each way, the passion to dramatically express myself, and the passion to go to India or wherever life took me to find the answers to my questions. And does that? Yes, that was,

Alex Ferrari 3:00
yeah, that answers that. But let me ask you, do you think that we have to go through figuring out what we don't want to do in order to find what we do want to do? or do something? Some people just find what they want to do in life? Because I mean, so many of us have to go. I think every one of us almost every one of us. does things like you said acting you enjoyed acting, but that kind of led you towards the writing world.

Catherine Ann Jones 3:26
Yeah, that was all connected. Right? I think I said, when we you interviewed me last about the writing. I can't think of a better background to write plays and movies and television than to be a professional actor. Moliere and Shakespeare started as actors after all, they're not that I'm quiet. Anyway, um, I think it depends. Everything is individual. I, one thing I believe passionately, is there's no one way to write. There's no one way to live your life. It varies person to person. So the search is really to find yourself and discover your own path and process and honor that

Alex Ferrari 4:17
Yeah. And that's the thing I it took me it's taken me 40 years. To find my path, though. I dabbled a little bit in it. And I would see hints of it. And I'd be like, and I would reject it, which is the third of the thing that we do is, as human beings is like, no, that's no, I don't want to do that. Because I have my mind. Like, I want to be a missionary. I can't go teach and stuff or I want to be an actor. I don't want to go teach and stuff. And I've had that happen. But the moment that I ran into my my calling, which is what I'm doing now, is I became so much more happy because I was angry and bitter and oh Oh my god, I was so angry and bitter at people. And I felt that I'm like, I need to do this, I need to do that I need to be this. And those those wants and needs, by the way, haven't gone away. And I think they all still work within the world that I'm in. But I'm much happier now. Because I've fallen into

Catherine Ann Jones 5:17
that's what I call one of my exercises and heal yourself with writing both the workshop and the book is I call it the coming home exercise. And finding your Dharma is a coming home experience. You know, there can be other coming home experiences, meeting someone for the first time and you feel you've known them all your life. Acting was that for me when I first started, it just seem almost too natural. No. So coming in what you describe when you found what you want to do, that's the coming home, you're coming home to your self, your capital SELF.

Alex Ferrari 6:04
Yes, exactly. And, and it's so funny, because when I first picked up a microphone to be a podcaster, which is insane thing, I liked it. And then I was like, wait a minute, I kind of really enjoyed doing this. And I've actually really kind of enjoying talking to people and, and meeting people. And it's just and then I'm able to help other people and things like that. But it took me a minute before I accepted it, you know,

Catherine Ann Jones 6:29
doesn't matter. As long as we get there. Some people lead their whole lives and haven't found what what did for them. I think the thing to remember, there's a saying in India, it's better to be a good servant than a bad King. So it doesn't matter what it is your Dharma is there's no judgment on that. It's just finding what's right for you.

Alex Ferrari 6:58
And connecting with it and when it does show up, not to reject it.

Catherine Ann Jones 7:03
Now, well, my word could be honored. Yeah, I think that's the word serve it

Alex Ferrari 7:09
Serve it. Because it's true. Like it's I think that most of us go throughout life, walking against the current. And we like fight, what our incent instincts, our nature is and things like that. But the moment you sit down and let that current understand that there is a current taking you where you need to go, life becomes so much easier and so much more happy you become.

Catherine Ann Jones 7:34
It's the kind of surrender really, my go when you find your spiritual path. When you find your Dharma, once that's in place, you can it's there is a kind of surrender of the ego, and that the invisible and visible allies magically appear to help you on that journey. against it the opposite.

Alex Ferrari 8:01

Catherine Ann Jones 8:01
It like climbing upstream.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Yeah. And I love I love the term you use invisible and visible ally show up? Because, yes, because there was definitely forces of things that happen you just like, how did that happen? And in my, in my journey, just with my simple podcasts, I've had access to talk to people who are just insane kind of people I've been able to get access to. And sometimes it's just like, oh, an email dropped in, you're like, how did that happen? Like, how did that connection happen? Like it's it's mind blowing. But I would have killed years earlier, to have a sit down conversation for an hour or two with some of these individuals. And now they're asking me to this conversation, which is mind blowing.

Catherine Ann Jones 8:49
Yes, but it's made you who you are. Maybe you wouldn't done it as well, it should do it now. If you had done it 15 - 20 years ago, who knows?

Alex Ferrari 9:00
That's very true. That's very true. Now one of the things we've been talking a little bit about is finding that inner mission, the inner, inner purpose of yours, how can you better connect with the inner voice? Because we all have that inner voice that thing in the gut, which we ignore a lot of the time. How do you attune yourself to that?

Catherine Ann Jones 9:25
Well, it just so happened so wrote a book about it that it's that book called heal yourself with writing, Scott double themes. It's about self healing, grief and trauma, my graduate degrees and depth psychology young in psychology, and it's about deepening the dialogue with the self capital S, not the ego but the self, that deeper part of us and and I've created short exercises prompts that I use in the workshops and the book. And that seems to it's amazing people have come out of that workshop and say this was life changing. Because they find parts of themselves. They didn't know they were there. And they read what they've written. And they say, Where did that come from? So they're writing from a deeper place.

Alex Ferrari 10:26
So when you're writing, you're almost tapping into that inner voice, because you're just kind of letting it flow of consciousness almost like that.

Catherine Ann Jones 10:34
Yeah, it's, I call it in a way an intuitive inner voice. You know, it's inside. It's a kind of thing. I know an example i given. I also have in the book, heal yourself with writing anecdotes, from my own journey to illustrate the points I'm teaching. And show it to you tell you one, this is it's a pretty good story. I was living in New York, what I call my theater years. And an actor, actress friend of mine had just come back from making a film in Europe, and invited me to her flap her apartment on Central Park south. So I went there. And as soon as I walked into her apartment, something I felt very uneasy. There was no logical reason why should I know this woman for years, there was no problem. But I felt very uncomfortable. Like I shouldn't be there. And I should leave. But of course, my logical left brain came in and said, Oh, that's nonsense. So she placed me in a big chair by the window overlooking Central Park, where she ordered out for tea and snacks and things, and sat in that chair. And then it was even stronger. It was like get out of dodge now. And I stayed about 5 - 10 minutes more struggling with that, and it became so overpowering. I suddenly stood up and I said, Patricia, I have to go. I will talk to you later. You know, which was quite rude of me. And so I got home about 15 minutes later, 20 minutes later, I live not far away over by Lincoln Center. As I was walking in the door to my place, the phone rang. I picked it up, it was Patricia. She says Catherine, you won't believe what happened five minutes after you left. I said what? Now in these old buildings in New York, they often have AC you know, been huge box the size of a room on top of the building. It was a very windy day in the winter. Somehow that big, huge thing as big as half a room, fell off the roof crashed into her window, landed on the chair I had been sitting here I wouldn't have been killed. So the moral is, listen to that intuitive voice. It may even save your life. True Stories. So from then on, I was in my 20s. Then, from then on, I never doubted my inner voice says something like it might say don't walk the usual way home go around. I just follow it. It never lies.

Alex Ferrari 13:47
It's always got your best interests in mind. Yeah. Well, the thing is, when dealing with your inner, inner voice, or gut instinct, or whatever you'd like to call it, how can you balance the voice in your head with the feeling in your gut, because that mind is the most powerful and wonderful thing but it's also your darkest enemy sometimes?

Catherine Ann Jones 14:11
Well, they're both our highs. We don't want to throw out one or the other. I love integrating the two giving because we're conditioned in a way and educated in a way totally listened to the logical left brain, right? And the intuitive voice gets short shrift. So the work is bringing you know listening to both at least equally.

Alex Ferrari 14:38
So but there are moments where that brain that brain when you overthink something and your guts telling you just do this and then you start making excuses, or there's fear involved, which there's generally always fear involved. Things like that their fear our desire, fear or desire writing for us. Exactly. So if your mind is creating, let's say fearful thoughts or fearful thing, like, take that job, no, don't take that job because if you take that job, this will happen or this or Apple, this happened, but your guts telling you no idiot take the job?

Catherine Ann Jones 15:17
Well, there's an interesting something in Young's autobiography. It's a wonderful book. He wrote it when he was in its 80s. And one of the things he says that always stuck with me is that, you know, that intuitive voice gives you little murmurings, like, do this, or don't do this, like little whispers in your ear. And when you don't listen, sometimes you need to be hit over the head with this stick. I had a feeling for about three years, I should leave New York. But logically, my son was still in school with one attempt to finish high school, before I got out of the city. And I did a Fulbright year took my son with me, came back and my apartment was stolen by a student, I had let stay there. Now there's a saying in Manhattan, people will kill together great apartment. Right? You know what, she didn't do that. But she changed the locks. And anyway, I would that was my head over the head. So it was a terrible thing to happen. But in the end, it was a blessing because I realized this was my hit over the head. It was time to leave New York. And about that time I won that award in how in Los Angeles for one of my plays, and it was optioned by MGM studio. So I had no reason to get out, you know. But for three years, I had the I had the gentle whispering in the ear from that inner voice. But I didn't listen. So it had to be something extreme to

Alex Ferrari 17:11
say yeah, and yes, the structure of the universe will try to teach you lessons. And if you don't listen to, when it's a gentle, they will then sometimes literally will crash into you, literally a car crash, something will happen that will force you to go down the path that you need to go or less or learn the lesson. I hear

Catherine Ann Jones 17:32
all the time from participants in my workshops, that like someone got cancer, because they were doing a job that hated or whether or in a relationship that was not positive. And the cancer woke them up. And they live in they said the cancer is the best thing that happened to me, it changed my life. My life is so much better. Now. I would recommend though listening to the gentle voice and not go through having your home stolen or cancer.

Alex Ferrari 18:08
There's so much pain that we as as humans go through unnecessary if we would just be more connected within ourselves to go inward as opposed to go outward. There's so much we look for happiness outward, we look for peace outward. Everything's outward. But all of that lives within us. Do you agree?

Catherine Ann Jones 18:31
Not only that, psychologically, I think there's a fear of change. I lived 20 years in New York City, you know, and to suddenly start a new life a new career in Hollywood. It's daunting, you know, on the way. So sometimes, even though the current status quo doesn't make us happy, it's familiar. It's happened is vitual. But going on to what you're saying, you growing, you're going up to the higher level here. And yes, I think the most important part is enter. In the external will express the image

Alex Ferrari 19:13
with yes without question. Now, you wrote the book, heal yourself with writing. What do you see writing? How do you see writing as a potential healing force in a person's life?

Catherine Ann Jones 19:27
Well, first of all, I developed the workshop at Esalen Institute, Big Sur where I'm going Monday morning to teach a live class with real people. I know, right? I'm so happy. So I developed it there. Because I've wanted to do I had done the way of story workshop for years and the book, which is for people interested in writing, all forms of narrative. This was different. This is a course I wanted to do for writers and riders to use writing as a healing modality, a self healing modality, especially for grief and trauma. And anyway, I had very powerful results from the participants at our salon. And that led me to write the book. So it's not about learning to write, it's just letting I do it in such a way, these short 510 minute exercises, where you write from the unconscious, you know, and it's sort of automatic, but it's specific, I call it focus journaling. It's not about write whatever you want, you listen to the prompt, and you write whatever associations arise, and people are amazed what comes out, which is, it's also never the same because everyone's story is unique. So lucky for me, it's never boring.

Alex Ferrari 21:02
Now, I know a lot of people out there. You know, when we're born, when people are always telling us, you have to have to find a career, you have to make money, they have a stable life and all of this kind of stuff. How How do you? How did you balance a career in Hollywood, which is, I have a lot of experience in Hollywood. So I know how hard that is the very kind of physical or egocentric world of Hollywood, or of any career for that matter, and a spiritual path. And I think a lot of people have trouble balancing those two, not from Hollywood, but just as general career.

Catherine Ann Jones 21:44
Thanks to the pandemic, the last two years, you know, I these years, I usually travel all over the world teaching workshops. Thanks to the pandemic, all of that was cancelled, I had to stay in Oh, hi, California. And I had no excuse not to write, I had been asked to do my memoir over the last few years. And I kept putting it off. And so this year, I wrote two memoirs, they were published. And that's the theme of the main memoirs, which is really more than autobiography starting, when I was living in Japan at the age of four, the books called Buddha and the dancing girl. And that became, it was two experiences I had as a child in Japan. And that became an archetypal metaphor for my whole life. Buddha is a search for the spiritual dancing girl is the compulsion to express dramatically through acting and writing. So these two seemingly polar opposites, were the driving force of the last several decades. And at some point, they had to merge. And when they become integrated to use Young's word, then there's no out and in that sort of one, one, I don't know if that makes sense. In my experience,

Alex Ferrari 23:25
fair enough.

Catherine Ann Jones 23:27
So it's like, I was always having some success in New York as an actor and later as a playwright. And the first thing I do instead of opportunistically make, make something out of the success. I would get on a flight to India to my teacher and spend three months, two months, whatever. It's not the best career move to do that. But it was my way and it worked. And then when it merges, there's no where I realized there's nowhere to go. There's nothing to do. There's no one to be.

Alex Ferrari 24:10
You've mentioned, the India's one of your favorite places to visit in the world.

Catherine Ann Jones 24:18
No, no, that's not exactly what I'd say. The climates the worst in the world for me, right? Um, I get terrible jetlag. I said, India is my spiritual home.

Alex Ferrari 24:32
That's okay. So,

Catherine Ann Jones 24:34
I used to dream I told a friend of mine who also went there later, I said, if only our teacher had been born in Hawaii,

Alex Ferrari 24:46
but yeah, you do what you got to do. So can you do what you got to do to find you know, inner peace and enlightenment? When can you talk Can you talk a little bit about your journeys in India? I'm meeting either sages, gurus and what they've taught you along the way.

Catherine Ann Jones 25:12
Wow. Okay, I'm going to start with the dream. I have a rug. I'm a young yet not hard to fit the age of seven. Until I was 21. I had a recurring dream. All those years simple dream. I write about this in the Buddha book. But the dream was this I was in the backseat of a car. The car went into a hot desert. And there was no driver at the car, the car was driving itself. Suddenly the car stop this, my door opened by itself. And I looked up and on higher ground, there was a huge rock and a dark scan man appeared. He was wearing a white shirt and a white sheet wrapped around his waist that went to his ankles. And there was a feeling I've come home. That was the dream. This stream reoccurred over many years. When I went to India, I went to South India to a sage I had heard about hits what they call a householder sage, not a monk. He had wife and children. And the car, the taxi drove up, I was in the backseat, I opened the car door, I looked up and out of on a higher ground out of the big white house. This man came out with darker skin, a white shirt and a dhoti wire wrapped around him. It was the same man. It's in my dream. So I never searched anywhere else that was decades ago. And I was very fortunate and that so there was no question this was the right place, for me, may not be for someone

Alex Ferrari 27:17
else. Now, what were some of the things that he taught you along the way?

Catherine Ann Jones 27:23
It's not like this, that I can make a list. It's not a lecture. He didn't lecture he uses a Socratic dialogue. That means if there are no questions, he just sit silently. If there are questions, he would respond, not only to the question, but the questioner. In other words, if you and I asked the same question to the sage, we would get different answers. So that's one thing that struck me right away, he was answering the person who was asking the question.

Alex Ferrari 27:59
So can you explain that a little bit like when you mean he answered the question and the question, or was he answering the question,

Catherine Ann Jones 28:08
what the question are needed to hear what he has to know? Because sage, of course has those cities or powers.

Alex Ferrari 28:18

Catherine Ann Jones 28:19
It's more the presence of a sage. It's not just the words. The philosophy is a Hindu philosophy behind the religion. There's no God concept. It's it's called that Vedanta and vitae Vedanta advisor to means not to and ending with Bhagavad Gita. All these great Indian shoe polish sheds, Rama, Mama Ohashi, yoga, Nanda para Rama, Krishna, these are nisargadatta. These are former sages.

Alex Ferrari 29:03
So is there something that he said to you that changed your path in life? One thing

Catherine Ann Jones 29:11
was, yeah, but it's not what he said. Sometimes I used to worry, because after a talk, I would totally forget everything, anything that was said. Because just being in his presence, you would kind of dissolve you weren't there. So I couldn't and I said, I'm trying to be attentive. But why is you know, I was 23. So I asked a lot of stupid question. But I said, I'm trying to be attentive, but I can't recall what you said. And he said, that's good.

Alex Ferrari 29:48
Interesting, very interesting.

Catherine Ann Jones 29:51
It's a very different process than like being in a lecture at the university.

Alex Ferrari 29:57
Of course. Now, I'm assuming I know from our last conversation that you meditate and you've been meditating for a long time. What What does that practice done for your life? And how has it changed your path?

Catherine Ann Jones 30:13
Oh my goodness. Well, first thing, my worst trait is impatience. I'm an astrologer on the side. And I have nine planets in fire. So it's good for teaching. It's good for acting. It's not so great for the personal life. But, you know, so to meditate for the last 4050 years, which, that's how long it's been. You know, you have to sit still to meditate. And it's, it's given me I'm not home free, but I'm certainly a lot more patient and tolerant than I used to be.

Alex Ferrari 30:57
So, so yeah, so it definitely I am with you 110%. Because I'm a very, I was a very impatient person, I still am. And I'm not 100% there either. But meditation in my life has definitely caused me it is it is slowed things down a little bit. As opposed to

Catherine Ann Jones 31:14
something else Salix, I got a phone call half an hour ago, a friend I've known since I was in the drama department, undergraduate. And she lives in New York working actor, she and her husband, she called me from the hospital. She has cancer, and will face surgery. And so I told her, I said, Let the surgeons do the external work, but you have inner work to do. I said, Well, they're putting you under meditate, take deep, long breaths, and visualize something beautiful, or whatever your spiritual orientation is. I'm a firm believer in the power of thought. And that you can't just expect the doctors to do everything the inner work can help you heal. I've seen this enough times that you know, and she responded very positive to that.

Alex Ferrari 32:27
When you say inner work, what do you mean as far as because we all have inner work to do? So can you kind of define inner work for me?

Catherine Ann Jones 32:33
Sure. Well, the deep breathing helps make you still if you're have anxiety, or fear. And then to place your mind on something positive, I would think about my teacher, I would visualize him sitting in the chair, walking, whatever, eating a meal, whatever. And that would end in they put you can put you in a state of bliss. And then you if you go into a surgery in that thing, it can make a lot of difference. I've heard too many examples to confirm this. So So visualize, if you have a mantra, do that arm, wrist, if you're a Christian, the Lord's Prayer, whatever works for you, someone that's Frank Sinatra wants what he believed in. And you know what he said? He said, What ever gets me through the night? So whatever gets you through the night or the dark night, which surgery would be so anyway, I just thought that because it was half an hour, of

Alex Ferrari 33:47
course, not so many. I think that the world has an epidemic and I think we've had it since we, you know, we were put on this planet is dealing with the fear. Fear of you know, originally it was the fear of the Tiger eating you around the corner. And now it's the fear of your boss or the fear of failure or the fear of being you know, not accepted. Cow, do you have any tips on overcoming fear because it's something that every human being on the planet deals with?

Catherine Ann Jones 34:20
I have an anecdote to share. This, you know, life is story to me. so

Alex Ferrari 34:27

Catherine Ann Jones 34:28
Story. years ago, my first long play was produced in Aspen, Colorado at the conference there. And I met James Salter James halter, who died not long ago is a novelist. I think his most famous book is Downhill Racer, which Robert Redford played in the movie years ago. He said something I'll always remember he said, Most of the things I've worried about never happened. And I have an example of that a week ago. I've taught 1516 years. So that's the lunch. But of course I haven't for over two and a half years because of the pandemic. So they asked me to come back and teach. So suddenly, one day, I began to worry, I thought, you know, because of the pandemic, we may not get enough people to make the workshop. And if we don't, they'll cancel the workshop. And so I worried for one day, then the next day, I got a call. And because I told him, I don't want over 28 people at the most, because I like a lot of one on one. So SLN call me and said, it this is a month before I was to go there. I said the workshop is full, and there's 19 on the waiting list. And I've worried one whole day need what a waste of energy, right?

Alex Ferrari 36:07
It is, it is true. You worrying. I heard this crazy comment. Worrying is like trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum isn't a good one. It's like it doesn't. It's useless. It's useless. You know, I mean, it there's a certain level of worry, like, you know, if you're in a bad situation, you could worry about what's going to happen to you in the next five or 10 minutes.

Catherine Ann Jones 36:33
be concerned. concerned. Yeah. And you can think what can I do? Am I Is there something I can do to make sure this doesn't happen? You know, that's a good concern. Worry something else?

Alex Ferrari 36:48
Yeah, worry is a waste of think. Because if you're worrying about something, you have no control over like that, like your perfect example is like, you had no control over who and how many never happened, and it never happened on top of it. If you I think you should, if you're going to be concerned or worried only can be concerned about things you have control over. It makes no sense to be worried about something else that you have no control over. Now that we're going along with fear. So many people live their lives even based on the opinions of other people, the good opinions of other people, as Wayne Dyer used to say, do you have any advice on how to ignore that kind of thinking and trying to break away from other people's not only other people's opinions, but other people's thinking? I mean, it starts with our parents, you know, we're born this glob, and then all the stuff is thrown on us

Catherine Ann Jones 37:49
the first chapter and wait in heal yourself with writing us. What is your story? What story are you living? And I'd say it starts at home. Usually, so one of the exercises is, are you living your life or the life of parent want to doodle live? or so on? That's one of the things to tell you the truth. I don't know if it's a good positive or negative thing. Maybe it's because I'm an only child. Maybe because I'm an Aries astrologically I've never really cared what other people thought I love my friends. But I just feel strong. And whatever it is, I am you know that I've never been swayed. But I do know I've had friends that are are swayed to such a degree. They never follow their dream. They're so afraid of not having, I can't tell you how many people come to my way of story workshop, here and abroad all over the place. And like they want it to be a writer. And they ended up writing political speeches in Washington DC. They ended up working in advertising. They make good livings, they had families. And now they're 45 5055. Now they want to write the all American novel or whatever, the great American novel. So it's dreams don't die easily. And they can lay dormant for decades.

Alex Ferrari 39:30
I get that all the time in my in my other career talking to filmmakers all the time. I have 65 year old filmmakers like I just retired. I want to make my first feature film. I've always wanted to be a director and you just like, wow, like I was a doctor because my parents pushed me into that and I've been a doctor for the last 40 years. And now I want to I want to follow my passion.

Catherine Ann Jones 39:52
I actually I had a play open in New York and it got good reviews and they gave a party at the party and method doctor, he was a doctor on Park Avenue. That's where the high level big money doctors are in New York. And he said, My father was the doctor, he always wanted me to be a doctor. I'm good at it. But I always wanted to be a playwright. You know, I had a, I haven't, I didn't even have a fraction of what this man earned. But I was happy.

Alex Ferrari 40:30
In that's something that's I think we should talk about really quickly is finding that bliss, as your old friend Joseph Campbell, used to say, oh, follow your following your bliss. Yeah. It doesn't matter if you're not super wealthy, super rich financially, or have millions of dollars or anything like that. You can be happy, I think, I don't know where I heard this story. But the story of the fishermen and the businessman that the fisherman was in the Caribbean, somewhere in this new york businessman showed up and like, took them out for a fishing journey. And he's like, Oh, my God, what do you how many fish you catch a day. He's like, Oh, I could do this. He goes, Well, you could do this to build the business up. And then you can get a couple more boats. And you could do this, this, this and this. And he's like, at the end of that he's like, no, he goes, Well, why wouldn't you want to? You know, why wouldn't you want to be bigger, happier, he's like, I catch enough fish to feed my family, then I get to sit down, drink a beer, to hang out in the ocean, and I have time with my family. I'm happy. I don't need any of that stuff. Exactly. And that's it. And I think that's what in generally the American ideal is all about more and more and more and more and more, and I need to be rich, rich, rich, rich, rich, and that the American dream and all that kind of stuff. But how do you how can you like kind of any advice you can give for people to understand like finding happiness first. And oddly enough things follow when you find your, when you find that bliss, things follow? Well,

Catherine Ann Jones 42:06
I guess I was lucky, I never really cared about money or fame. That was never the driving force. I was I have ambition. But my ambition had a different hue. My ambition was I wanted to work with the best people. I got to work right movies for Dolly Parton. Olympia caucus, Jason robarge. Julie era's. That's my I didn't write thrillers or action films, I could have made more money, because that that's where the big money is. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. So I was never drawn. Here. We're talking about people who are overly influenced by other people starting with one's parents. So they may be living a life unconsciously, to satisfy something the parent failed out and wanted them to succeed in. That's one example of this first exercise. I do, I'll be doing next week. And sometimes it's unconscious. And people don't realize that until they write the exercise. And they've heard, oh my god, for 30 years, I've been living my father's dream, not mine.

Alex Ferrari 43:27
That's, that's pretty. That's a pretty profound realization, you know, 40 years later.

Catherine Ann Jones 43:35
And sometimes it gets more complex. Sometimes the unconscious dynamic can be because a parent failed. There's an unconscious pressure, an unspoken unconscious pressure on the child to succeed up to a point but not to succeed beyond what the parent did. Nothing spoken. It's just an unconscious and it's felt, you know, lose their love. The unconscious is saying if I go beyond my father, or whatever, you know, it's it's complex, sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 44:17
Very complex. I mean, I I truly want my my daughters to be much more successful than I was. Without question I want them to and I want them to succeed. I want them to succeed in anything they want to do. But I understand your point of view. I had to deal with that with my with my father as well. He is there's only so much it was just a weird it's a weird conversation. But that's a that's a that's a that's a session for another day. You could do a session on. Well, I mean, parents, look, our parents are our everything for the first 15 years, 18 years of our life there. That's our world. That's our world. And then when we get thrown into the Real World, hopefully we've been prepared and have enough knowledge and an armed enough with things to protect ourselves to deal in the real world because I do the world world's gonna throw things at you that your parents did and many times other times not but, but your parents are I mean, it's being me being a parent now. I see what my, my mother had to go through raising me and I see so many of her bad habits that I might have picked up or my father's bad habits I might have picked up as well as the good ones that I picked up things that they were really good at that I also drew on but the children are sponges, absolute sponges. And you don't have to say a word they just, they sense it, they just, they just absorb it. They absorb everything all the time, from their environment.

Catherine Ann Jones 45:54
they rebelled against it, too. So Alex, could I read just the introduction from the heal yourself?

Alex Ferrari 46:02
Yes, please, please

Catherine Ann Jones 46:03
give yourselves because you said you want to talk about this. And yes, before this might. I start with a quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. It's all right, it's over. It's just a memory. And then my that's the end of the quote. Our lives may be determined less by past events, then by the way we remember them. I'm gonna say that again. That's kind of the theme of the book. Our lives may be determined less by past events, than by the way we remember them. If we learn how to reframe the pieces of our past and revision, our life story, so that suffering becomes meaningful, we can radically boost our chances of self healing, empowerment, growth, and transformation. Focus journaling, short writing exercises designed to facilitate self healing is an extremely powerful tool to achieve this aim. There were two inspirations to the book and the workshop. One was a Native American parable I read years ago, and it was about an old Native American grandfather speaking to his eight year old grandson. And he says this, he said, there are two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is generous, loving, and kind. The other wolf is greedy, and violent, and mean. And these two wolves are fighting in my heart. Then the little boy looks up and says grandfather, which wolf wins the fight in your heart. And the grandfather answers, the one I feed. So in a way, the word in the workshop or if you do the book are there is an online course is how can we feed the good wolf?

Alex Ferrari 48:27
It's very, very profound. I've heard I've heard of that before as a great, great parable.

Catherine Ann Jones 48:32
The other inspiration. There was a great Jewish psychiatrists, New York, who was a Holocaust survivor. He was in Auschwitz. And he was called Viktor Frankl. And he saw his entire family, what doubt in Auschwitz, his wife, his children, everyone dead. And he had this epiphany. He's he realized he had no control over the external situation, not the only power he had, was how he perceived it. How he focused his mind, and this became the basis of his amazing work as a psychiatrist in New York. When he died, The New York Times gave him a full page obituary. And he wrote a book called Man's Search for Meaning. Small book, but a powerful book, but that stayed with me cuz it was very close to the danta the philosophy that influenced me. So part of the work in the workshop is shifting perspective. Like if you've had a trauma, you see life as a victim, sometimes sexual trauma Say. So if you can shift away from the perspective of the victim, your whole life changes. I don't know I'm sort of simplifying it, but that shows up the work we do. So it's deep work, you know it is and work

Alex Ferrari 50:18
for no question and can be scary work because when you start knocking on those doors, those doors will open. Yeah. Sometimes you might not want to see what's behind there, but you're gonna have to deal with it.

Catherine Ann Jones 50:27
The first time I did this workshop at Esalen. I got a letter from I think she was in her mid 30s. Right at the age, she was very successful in Silicon Valley. She had carried a sexual trauma with her for years. When she was 15, she was sexually abused by her brother and her brother's friend. She did the exercises, she never shared what she wrote, she kept to herself. So I didn't think more about it. And then I got the letter and she said, I've been in therapy for 20 years, nothing has worked. After this workshop, I feel I've returned to myself. Now listen to those word, I've returned to myself. Because when you have trauma, there becomes a split between your soul and you know, the outside world, you're cut off. That's why often people who walk around with drama, say soldiers or whatever, they don't feel anything, they're numb inside, they've been split off. So finding a way to return yourself to yourself. That's a mighty work.

Alex Ferrari 51:47
That's, that's pretty powerful. Pretty powerful. Can Can you tell me what the biggest lesson you've learned in your life so far is? Is there one that you can point to?

Catherine Ann Jones 52:02
Well, what comes up is parenting. I, I've had one son, now I have two grandchildren. Nice. But I think I had my son when I was 21. So I was very young, and I had been an only child. So I didn't have a lot of experience with babies or children. And I love being a parent. It taught me as much as anything else in my life. But if I had to do it over again, I think sometimes I rushed in too quickly to try and fix things for my son. You know, I consider this a problem. I'd say what you could do, you know, I tried to have the answers. If I had to do it again, I think I learned it's better to just listen and just be there for someone going through something

Alex Ferrari 53:02
instead of trying to fix it. Yeah. Good. That's a great answer. what came to mind anyway? How do you think people can connect more with God in today's world? Well, you're talking to an agnostic First of all, but what the universal energy universal energy, the absolute pure consciousness, force, death force? Absolutely right. The force be with you. Yes.

Catherine Ann Jones 53:31
I don't think it's a white man with a beard.

Alex Ferrari 53:34
I agree with you. 100%. On that,

Catherine Ann Jones 53:36
I just wanted to clarify, sure. Um, well, I just finished a new book. And I found this quote, it's an unknown source. I think it's, I can't remember some unknown source. And it says, I went in search of God. And I found myself. I went to India in search of God or the truth. And I found myself and not the ego self, again, that capital S I think I shared with you when I finish this, this book is self with writing. And I was just about to send it off to the publisher. I did a read through and I kept looking at the title page. Because you know, heal yourself with writing yourself is one word, usually. And I kept looking, I knew something was missing, but I didn't know what and then it hit me. And all I did was separate the word so it's heal your self capital S self with writing and then I knew the book was done. I compare it to a painter has to learn not to over paint the canvas he has to instinct or intuition. Dibley know when to stop and lay the brush down. And that kind of changed things for me.

Alex Ferrari 55:08
Why do you think we're here? It's a general statement to find that self, not the ego.

Catherine Ann Jones 55:18
In other words, you, I think we're here for the growth of the soul, I could answer it like that. I think the purpose of each life is for the soul to grow. And the soul can be rather ruthless. Some people may grow when terrible things happen in their life, cancer, Death of friends, whatever. Or can be positive things. But I think we're here for that for the evolution of the soul.

Alex Ferrari 55:52
And where can people find out more about you? And the work do you do in the books that you've written?

Catherine Ann Jones 55:59
My website, I guess, way of And there, my online courses are there on the home page, I do writing consultant. I've done psychic readings for 14 years, mostly now. And I do a blog once a month. And some interviews, maybe we'll put the center of the thing so we have, and they can email me through that

Alex Ferrari 56:34
to Gavin, thank you so much for doing this. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you and, and doing this deep dive into into soul work, if you will. And and thank you so much for all the work you've done over the course of your life to help people and with your books and plays and stories and, and teachings and everything. So I do appreciate you and thank you so much.

Catherine Ann Jones 56:57
Thank you

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BPS 121: Save the Cat! Writing for Netflix & Television with Jamie Nash

This week, I invited author, writer, and director, Jamie Nash on the show to discuss his ‘Save The Cats Writes for TV’ formula in his new book, Save the Cat!® Writes for TV: The Last Book on Creating Binge-Worthy Content You’ll Ever Need.

Jamie is a horror and children’s film screenwriter with fifteen years of experience writing projects for  Nickelodeon, Liongate, Discovery, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc, and also teaches screenwriting to college students.

Some of his most notable horror credits include V/H/S/2, Lovely Molly, and Seventh Moon, A Comedy of Horrors, and Two Front Teeth. And others like Adventures of a Teenage Dragon Slayer, Tiny Christmas, etc.

Screenwriting, for Jamie, was a side project he pursued at leisure when he wasn’t working his Computer gaming/programming job. It wasn’t until early 2004 that he sold his first script, a horror feature titled, Altered, to Haxan Films that was later directed in 2006 by one of the Blair Witch Project directors, Eduardo Sánchez. The story premised on a group of men whose lives were forever changed by a strange occurrence who, fifteen years later Now, will spend a night together … in terror.

With some financial success and notoriety from Altered, Jamie quit his computer consultant job with Citigroup and went full-time on screenwriting in 2008.

Jamie is one of those writers who stay busy. He writes about five to six scripts a year for pilots, TV shows, podcasts, novels, etc. This justifies why he has a Writers Guild

It takes a lot of brainpower to create multiple plots that are so different in many ways within a short period of time. An example is his 2017 screenplays, The Night Watchman and Tiny Christmas. Two very distinct writing and audiences. 

He co-wrote The Night Watchman with Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca. It is basically a story of three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle for their lives against a horde of hungry vampires.

Tiny Christmas on the other hand is about a girl and her quirky cousin who are accidentally zapped by a shrinking ray at the hands of one of Santa’s inept elves on Christmas Eve and they must learn to trust and appreciate each other and work as a team to get back home before Christmas, or risk staying tiny forever.

On March 30th, 2021, he released his third book, Save the Cat!® Writes for TV in which he shares the essence of writing pilots as pitches for screenwriters considering television because more than 80% of jobs in the Writers Guild of America are skewed towards the television.

Nash takes up Snyder’s torch to lay out a step-by-step approach using Blake’s principles for both new and experienced writers, including:

-How to write and structure a compelling TV pilot that can launch both your series and your TV writing career
-All the nuances, tricks, and techniques of pilot-writing: the Opening Pitch, the Guided Tour, the Whiff of Change, and more
-The 8 Save the Cat! TV Franchise Types that will improve your story and your pitch

-The not-so-secret TV Pitch Template that turns your TV series into the necessary read-over-lunch industry document
-a how-to in creating layered characters who are driven by complex internal struggles
-Beat sheets of the pilots of Barry, Ozark, Grey’s Anatomy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, What We Do in the Shadows, Black-ish, The Mandalorian, This Is Us, Law, and Order: SVU, and more to help you crack your story

Create your binge-worthy TV series with Save the Cat! Writes for TV 

We talked some more about his own indie film hustle journey–working overtime to get a headstart in the industry, we also talked about his networking technique that keeps him booked and busy. 

I could talk another hour more with Jamie. He is so candid about his process and the drive behind it.

Enjoy this conversation with Jamie Nash.



Right-click here to download the MP3



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Screenwriting Audiobook

Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome to show Jamie Nash, man. How you doing, Jamie?

Jamie Nash 0:14
I'm doing great.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thanks for having thanks for coming on the show, brother. I appreciate it.

Jamie Nash 0:19
Thank you for having me. I'm a big fan.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Oh, thanks, man. Thanks. We're here to talk about your new book, save the cat writes for TV, and I am a huge save the cat fan. I've had multiple different authors who have written different saved the cat books on as well because I, you know, a lot of people, some people like, Oh, it's a formula and it doesn't, you know, it's like, oh, it's taking the creativity out of it. And you know what, for some people that might be the truth, but other people, it's not. So I always like to present every kind of system way structure that you can because you just never know what writers gonna connect with what person I remember when I saved the Redford save the cat for the first time. I was just completely blown away. And I was just like, I was young, early in my screenwriting career. And there's a reason why it's still one of the best selling, if not the best selling,

Jamie Nash 1:12
this is the best selling by the way. Hi, my book can't even knock it off. Its perks. So you know, it's We're number two, a lot of time staring right at it. And I'm like, Can we pass it for one day?

Alex Ferrari 1:22
And it's how old now? How

Jamie Nash 1:23
long has it been around? On 2007?

Alex Ferrari 1:26
So it's been around for a couple years now. And it's still so there's obviously some sort of value there. Because there's been a lot of spirit writing books between 2007. Yeah. And it's still there. So how did you I was reading a little bit before our conversation. You You met Blake, back in the day?

Jamie Nash 1:46
Yeah. Yeah. So I'm in Maryland. And it you know, most of my career is spent doing indie horror movies, especially back in those days. And somewhere along the line, I was trying to network over the internet back in the, you know, the 2000 internet like 2003 2004 internet. And I remember I met him through a writing group. There was some kind of writing group, I don't work. I can't remember how they met him. But he was there. And he actually wanted me to write the script with him. He had seen that I had sold stuff. I was just starting my career. And he kind of came to me and said, You know, I like your sense of humor, you have a good handle on structure. And you had this idea for a script, he pitched it to me. And he was, even though his days were probably a few years before that, like the 90s were his heyday, you know, he sold, I think he had $2 million dollar scripts sales. Of course, he infamously wrote stopper, my mom will shoot. That's how he broke into Hollywood. So he hidden I'm not sure if he had sold anything in the last couple of years. But to make a long story short, he asked me to write a script with them. And I met him that way. And that was prior to save the cat. And I mentioned this in the book, he was using the save the cat terms on me. And I just thought they were like standard Hollywood terms. Like, he wasn't doing it in the way the book does it. He was just like, you know, we need an all is lost moment here. Or we need a in the debate section. He was using these terms. And I was like, Oh, this is just the way you know, maybe maybe he just got this jargon through, you know, talking to producers and stuff like that. But I so I almost organically processed that stuff, even before the book out just him talking through that kind of stuff. So that's how I met him.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
That must have been that must have been pretty cool. And Mmm, it's been awesome. Coming up. But so how did you get into the business?

Jamie Nash 3:44
Yeah, so I was a computer science major. That's how I got into business. Now. I was a computer science major. I always loved film. I was doing computer games at the time, but programming them nothing really that created. I always thought programming would lead me to the creative side. It never really did. It was a different kind of creativity. I was always like, yeah, and then one day, I'll make my adventure game and I'll put my stories in there, that never happened. So So I wrote on this side. And probably in the early 2000s I started to write screenplays. And the first one I I sold a script called altered with Eduardo Sanchez. It was our word is Sanchez, the you know your listeners will know The Blair Witch Project one of the Blair Witch Project directors and that was his first movie after Blair Witch. And universal picked it up. And then universal kind of buried it. In some ways. It was a straight to DVD. Still to this day, people find it now it came out. I think 2006 2007 ish. And people find it to this day and they're like, I've never heard of this movie. You know that it has a lot of fans that just pick it up and find it and and enjoy it. But that was my intro to the business. I made some good money. I kept Random it because I was like, you know, I'm not it's not enough money, it's not going to change my my programming ways. Um, but then after that, made some more movies got a lot of indie gigs I was really I was really this weird indie screenwriter I was doing. And honestly I think it was because I was cheap. I wasn't in the W ga yet. I wrote really fast. I was game for anything, I just love to write and make movies. And I, I was, you know, when I compare myself to what I do today, what it taught me because I did finally go full time. I went full time in 2008 when the market kind of crashed, and I got laid off from my city group gig. And at the time I was I was a computer consultant for Citigroup. Not that I was laid off, they were just like, we're not making any money. We're not going to hire any consultants back next year, you get paid too much. And at that point, I said I'm going full time. And a couple years after that, so it's been since 2008. I've been a full time screenwriter, and probably around two. Yeah, in 2011. I finally got in the Writers Guild. So and what was the point I was going to make was when I was an indie writer, I had to write like 10 screenplays a year just to make a little bit of money to survive. Like I had to write so many screenplays and do so many gigs. Because the you know, I didn't have all those guild protections of minimum salary, residuals, all that stuff. And then once I got in the Guild, my muscles went away that was just used to writing 10 screenplays a year so so I'm kind of a nut in that I write about five, usually like five to six scripts a year or something pilots, television shows, podcasts, or write novels. And probably since that time, I've been doing it a screenwriting full time. But now on the WETA

Alex Ferrari 6:56
that's awesome man. That's, that's your your. You're a unicorn. You mean someone? full time screenwriter, like that's

Jamie Nash 7:04
full time screenwriter, unicorn, and also I'm in Maryland, which makes it even weirder.

Alex Ferrari 7:09
Right? Exactly. And that's the thing that a lot of screenwriters listening think that the only way you can make a living is if you're Shane Black Aaron Sorkin or a Tarantino where you know you're getting million dollar paydays. But there are and I've had on the show many, just workmen, craftsmen, just people, screenwriters, who are just you know, cranking out work, you know, job per job, you know, and making a good living and supporting their family. But they're just working as opposed to like this one and done lottery ticket mentality, which so many screenwriters walk into the business with? Yeah,

Jamie Nash 7:45
I mean, you're the title of your show your podcast, that's, that was my life. It was indie film, hustle. I legitimately, I had to do 10 scripts a year, because I don't know that I did. 10 I'm using that number is more like five or something. It's still crazy. And to this day, I get anxiety if I don't produce that many in a year. It's basically like you say, the shame blacks of the world, not even the shame blacks, but the LA folks. They have a different game they're playing where they have lots of meetings. They're, they're networking every day, they live and breathe it. But for me, I'm constantly feeling the need to remind people it exists. And the way I do it, is by writing. So I'm constantly saying, Look, I'm here, I got a new thing. and meeting people like after it goes out when I meet people. And that's, that's my life.

Alex Ferrari 8:43
So your network. So your networking technique is to actually create content and create projects. Wow, what, what, what, what, what a concept is opposed to just doing one script that took you seven years to mate to write, and hoping that that's the one that's gonna break you.

Jamie Nash 9:00
Yeah, yeah, it's it's definitely, I'm not sure that everybody can pull it off. But it's the only way I've known to really pull it off. And then when you get one friend, that friend is where you get most of your work, to be honest. So yeah, Eduardo Sanchez is a good example. I did a lot of work with Nickelodeon. So the weird thing is, I'm a horror person and a kid person. Like they're the two opposite arenas. Yeah. So I've done tons of scripts with Nickelodeon. And I did tons of horror scripts. And once you find that person that really wants to champion you and likes your work and sees it, then they become the majority of your stuff, but I've sold over the years. I mean, it's crazy. All the different places. We're the scripted blumhouse at one point, which is obvious, but then I also had something that like discovery. You know, I had a pitch that I sold the discovery at one point. I've had stuff at Amazon Prime all over the place.

Alex Ferrari 9:57
Yeah. So it's awesome, man. That's awesome. So He sat down and wrote a book called save the cat writes for TV. And right now, arguably television instead I use a television I use streaming is, as it's all all encompassing television and streaming, it is probably the most lucrative and easy, I can't say easiest, but you have a better chance of making a living in the television streaming world than you do off of independent films. Only because it's, I mean, when you were coming up independent films, there was money to be made. Now it's it's a lot different world we live in now the money is in streaming. So that's why I wanted to have you on the show. Because I feel so many screenwriters who've been who've been, you know, just hacking away at the the independent film script, which is fine. And you could definitely keep doing that are starting to transition like, you know, where I think streaming and television, I might want to start trying to get into the writers room, I start trying to develop my own show and all that kind of stuff. So first question I have for you is what are a few questions a writer needs to ask themselves when developing a show?

Jamie Nash 11:06
Yeah, good? That's a great question. Um, so I have this kind of magic formula in the book, that it's the first section of the book, that by the way, the book will take you from A to Z. And I should define what z is. Super quick, is because like you said, you put it perfectly. The number of jobs in the WGA, television to film if you do the comparison, they do a report every year. And the last I saw, this isn't the exact numbers, but it's super close. It's ballpark, I should have looked up the exact numbers is I think, of 9000 jobs. 7000 plus are in television.

Alex Ferrari 11:51

Jamie Nash 11:52
Yeah. So it's, it's super skewed toward television. And it makes sense because they're writers rooms and all these other things,

Alex Ferrari 11:58
right? more jobs, just more job.

Jamie Nash 12:01
Tons of tons of streamers. Each show has, you know, five to 12 writers, they're in rooms, they get jobs. So, which is part of the reason why we did this book, why we did this race television book. So the thing my book really tries to push is the reason you write a television pilot. And it's really concerned with pilots. So that's what I said a dizzy. A, you start with nothing, m z and up a pilot. A when I say a pilot, a pilot story, a save the cat outline, you know, you'll have the outline ready to go, all you have to do is get in final draft and crank out the fun stuff. a TV show pitch, and a TV show concept. So you could pitch your show, or you could send the pilot in either one would work. And so when a writer is considering doing television, what my pitch to you is or to your listeners is you need a pilot, a pilot is the key thing you're going to need. Because really, you're not one goal is to sell the show. That is one goal. But if you want one of those TV writers jobs, if you want to get one of those rooms, right now, they're asking for original scripts. So you know, back in the day, and you know, when I was coming up, they would ask you for spec scripts, which were like an episode of friends, for example, you just write like Episode 203 of friends, you know, nowadays, nobody wants that. And I, you know, I pulled a lot of people just to make sure because I consider putting that section in the book. And I said went out to my, you know, showrunner friends, my friends that are on staff. And they say nobody writes those anymore. There's some fellowships that actually take them. So it's not true. They're unicorns that still ask for. There's like the one in 100 that say, we want to see your friend script, decide if you're going to come in to Raiders room. But most people are looking for pilots, some will take features and some will take plays, but 99% of them take pilots, like pilots is what you need. So the book is really focused on the fact Hey, you might want to get one of these TV jobs. Hey, you might you might try to write a pilot. So that said, that kind of backtrack, to write a good pilot to write a great pilot. You need a good show. So that was this is your question. So what are the things in a show that you really need? And from my experience, and then from research as well, I came up with the three big things. These are the three. A unique world is really important. There are some like stand up comics and stuff that their point of view is kind of the world you know, like Seinfeld, it's a show about nothing so to speak. Yeah, but his unique view of it. comedy is kind of the world. But for the most part, you're trying to find some kind of world that you know, that's authentic to you. Because again, these are writers samples that you're trying to get a job with. So your script needs to say something about you. So it has to be something you love. Yeah. You know, in the book, I give examples of things I love. I love pro wrestling. You know, I love street performing. I love computer programming, you know, these are things I love. And I could speak about I could talk about I love to research.

Alex Ferrari 15:31
So can we can we can we do a pilot that is a pro wrestler, who's also a street performer and codes on the side?

Jamie Nash 15:38
I've done it.

Alex Ferrari 15:41
I've got four of those pilots. I've got those four pilots.

Jamie Nash 15:44
Yeah, exactly. I've got the funny thing you say I here's the weird thing. I've done two of those, those worlds for pilots, but the programming one, which seems the most obvious and the most relatable, I haven't figured out our fun take on that. It's it's

Alex Ferrari 16:00
I mean, Silicon Valley's a great. It's not coding, per se, but it but it was so wonderfully done. I mean, silicon was wonderfully,

Jamie Nash 16:08
wonderfully. That's the thing between that and Halt and Catch fire. Yeah, I don't need to do. I'm a huge Halt and Catch fire person. Yeah. And I love Silicon Valley. So what am I going to add to that? I can't find the fresh perspective. One day, I'll find it. I'm so so world is the first part. And then when I was going to pitch, the first thing you learn in television, at every meeting, you'll pitch this great thing. And they'll tell you, they'll sit you down, they'll say, we really care about his character, character, character, character. It's all about character and television. That's who you want to invite onto your DVR every single week. It's all about character. And they always say to put character first. And I have trouble. I'm a plot first guy, I'm kind of a concept first guy, you know, I came up loving the shame black kind of stuff. You know, diehard is kind of my movie. So I'm a concept, first type person, but I really had to over the years, especially over the last, I don't know six years, I've really kind of reinvented myself to try to think character first almost or that try to try to really get at what pulls at my heartstrings and what engages my own personal story and emotions in the script. So characters, part two. And then the last one is, and this is another term I never heard I got the Hollywood The term was somebody would say what's the franchise? That would be the first question you'd get. And to me it was a really cheesy kind of question, like guy with a cigar would be Yeah, what's the franchise kid or something. But it was a term that was regularly used. And what it meant was story engine. What's the thing that if you put you know, you kind of sit there every week and you say, we need a story idea? What's the inspiration for it? What's the comp? Where does the conflict come from? Where are the goals where the heroes come from? And it's that franchise? That's the thing. So in my in the book, just to give an example for a franchise. I came up these and Blake Snyder came up with these things called john rose. In his in his first book, and genres were basically story patterns. There were recurring stories we'd see over time so he has like, buddy love might be buddy copper romance he had he had a golden fleece, which might be like a quest movie or it might be a sports movie for you know you're trying to win the trophy. You're trying to win something at monster in the house. That was my favorite. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:38
it was a fish fish out of water. I think there's something

Jamie Nash 18:42
fishy out there. I do think he has a true fish out of water. He has a full triumphing as many as one that he so they're ones that kind of become fish out of water, but I don't think he has one. But he has a whole bunch they're trying to remember the number exactly I think there's 10 there might be 12 I should know they're in my book too. But so there's a bunch of them and they were the they were the stories so I came up with something similar which is the franchises I kind of went through and identified all the types of franchise types to help you figure out your show. And just you could probably come up with these just like you came up with fish out of water like that's a recurring theme. You know, TV shows there's the procedural shows I call the blank of the week, there's my blank OF THE WEEK chose so it could be anything from X Files, you know, monster the week to CSI, which might be case of the week to house which might be patient of the week or something like that. So that's one type of franchise trapped together so they're your family shows your you know, your the office space shows. So you're in an office, you're trapped with these people around you that conflict and the reoccurring stories come from those people In the interplay and the social dynamics, and so I came up with a bunch of these much like key genres. And the way I suggest, so they're the three things I think you've come up with, honestly think you start with the world, like, what are the worlds you love? Then say, who are the characters that really compel you in those worlds and make a big list? You know, in, in Silicon Valley, you know, you have the CEO, you have the kind of, you have the guy who runs the incubator, you have, you have all these things, and you write those down and have all your characters. And then if you start applying to the franchise type, you know, is this a? Is this a trap together? Is this a? Is this a blank that we you know, and then you can kind of brainstorm the kind of show you're creating through those three main pillars that you're creating? So what

Alex Ferrari 20:49
are some what are the so we have a blank of the week, we have trapped together? Are there any other ones?

Jamie Nash 20:55
There are? So a lot of the modern serialized shows so blank the week they're kind of the old, you know, episodic there's, um, there's a dude with a series long problem or season long problem. So great, Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad, or somebody that like 24, or something like that. Right? Right. Um, there's, um, there's one called man or woman with a plan. So it's somebody almost like, like the show revenge. Remember the show revenge, or something where somebody is like, they have a plan, and they're going to, they're going to enact his buddy love. So some of these are similar to the genres because they tell stories over time.

Alex Ferrari 21:38
And this is true, this does this trance, this go from comedy, to drama to action? lewdly. Absolutely.

Jamie Nash 21:44
So much like the genres, the genres, the Blake Snyder genres, which are very third, like cousins to these franchise types. A monster in the house, just as an example. So monster in the house is usually like a person trapped in a scenario with some monster. But something like what about Bob or cable guy? They're not horror movies, but they're still patterns that are similar to fatal attraction or something? Absolutely. So. Yeah, so one of my, one of the examples I give in the book is, is is dude or dudette, with a series long profit problem, or season long problem is the good place, and that's a comedy, but it could also be homeland, you know, or something like that. So, it they definitely cross genres. They're really just speaking to where you're going to find the conflict. Week, the week, you know, and they help you kind of brainstorm what your show is, but they also help you brainstorm what your pilot will be. And they also help you brainstorm what the season might look

Alex Ferrari 22:49
like. Gotcha. And, and obviously, select the procedural like, you know, blank of the week that is more network television, kind of world. That's not as much to streamers. Of course, there's always

Jamie Nash 23:02
exceptions. The one place you might see it in the streamers is animation. When you get the animation, some of those are like like Rick and Morty or something like that. They can be serialized, for sure. I mean, Rick and Morty isn't a streamer, but they have a big mouth or so you know, some shows like that. Maybe a

Alex Ferrari 23:22
little South Park, but that's more that's Comedy Central.

Jamie Nash 23:26
Show parks a good example. Again, it's it's network, but it's kind of streaming too. Right. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 23:31
When I say network, it's the four big ones. That's that's, that's what I'm thinking is NBC ABC, or

Jamie Nash 23:38
you know, something like that? They're definitely those procedurals there's television like Hawaii Five, oh, you know, things like that. They're definitely in the blank OF THE WEEK category, or even the trap together category. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:51
And that's one thing I've not really I've never seen a Hawaii Five o or, or that or, or CSI in the streaming world. It doesn't. It doesn't really exist originals, obviously, after the fact but never originals because I've because of the pandemic have been consuming quite quite a good amount of television. And we just it just sitting there just absorb. Like I just finally went back to Handmaid's Tale. I hadn't. I hadn't finished it yet, because I got pissed off when they caught her again. I was like, I can't I can't, I can't take it. And that's how I was.

Jamie Nash 24:23
I got to season two. I love season one. Yeah, I was like, This is great. I was like, I can't, it's got to go forward somewhere. I can't think when

Alex Ferrari 24:31
they pulled it when they pulled her back out. I was like, I'm out. I can't. But then I'm like, okay, they've got three seasons. So they got I got basically the third season and then as of this recording, the fourth season starts I think you're right a

Jamie Nash 24:41
You and I are the exact same one. It's so funny.

Alex Ferrari 24:45
I took I literally pulled her out of the spoiler alert

Jamie Nash 24:50
was like my favorite show when it was on. I loved it. I was like this is great. And then season two, I'm like, I still love it. And then once it got to the end, I was like I don't know if I want to watch season three

Alex Ferrari 24:59
I can't. And just a perfect example Walking Dead like walking dead I was a huge

Jamie Nash 25:05
Walking Dead fan omiya thing.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
And once neguin showed up, right? Once Megan showed up that whole season was so abusive to the audience. I felt it just you can't beat the characters you love to a pulp and never give them a win. It was just kind of like you were just seeing your favorite characters never win and his neguin was this. He was a villain that was so it's so so on. The villain can never be on on unconquerable. If you if you create a villain that's unconquerable, then there's no hope. And that's what I felt in Walking Dead. And then I stopped watching. I hadn't seen it since that last season. Yeah, at the very end. It was something but yeah,

Jamie Nash 25:50
yeah, I was a comic book walking dead person. So I'd read all the comic book. Yeah. And the comic book is easier to digest. Because it's, it's not as much story. You know what I mean? Even though it takes place, there's just not as much of it. It's not as much. So neguin is great. I love neguin in the comic book is. You're absolutely right, though. He's like undefeatable, he's always two steps ahead. He always finds a way out. He's definitely a tricky character. I think it's kind of the loss syndrome as well. Their win loss gotten to those middle years. And it just didn't feel like they were allowed to move forward.

Alex Ferrari 26:25
They jumped the shark, they jumped, they jumped the shark. Like if we if we can go back to the old concept of jumping the shark. For anybody who doesn't know what jumped the shark actually means it's from an old episode of happy days when Fonzie literally jumped the shark in his motorcycle. And we all said, Okay, you've gone too far.

Jamie Nash 26:45
I think the season before it was a cliffhanger episode and season before he jumped like a bunch of barrels, right? It's no, it's fine. So in the next episode, they had the top next year they topped it. He was in he was in LA jump some sharks, they were doing the whole evil evil thing. It was just bizarre.

Alex Ferrari 27:02
And that's where, and that's where jumped the shark comes from. But yeah, that's it is really interesting in regards to television, because I mean, I've consumed obscene amounts of television in my lifetime. And now this last year, I mean, we just literally just go searching like, we just finished we just caught up with this is us and watched. All of this is us like and cried a lot. But it's so

Jamie Nash 27:25
the pilot is in my book. So it's

Alex Ferrari 27:29
such an amazingly written SHOT Show to be able to work, multiple timelines, the same characters at different ages. The the the plotting that's involved with that, yeah, it's it is on something I've really on a whole other level, I've just, there's never been a show like it.

Jamie Nash 27:50
The pilot is a great example of what people should be doing when they're pilots.

Alex Ferrari 27:55
Yes. Good.

Jamie Nash 27:56
Not to spoil it. But it's been out a while. And

Alex Ferrari 27:59
I look at it spoiler alert, if everyone doesn't want to know that just I'm sorry.

Jamie Nash 28:02
Yeah, this absolutely. So this is us. It does this thing where it's kind of a mystery, you don't realize how the characters are totally connected. So you're doing the math, the whole episode. And then in the very final like seconds of it, it shows you how they're all connected. And it does it's like magic bricks and blows your mind. So you could just watch the pilot episode of this as us turn it off and sort of be satisfied with the show. It's like a mini movie unto itself. It's really a great, a great episode. And it was up by the way, it started as a movie.

Alex Ferrari 28:37
It did it. Oh, that the scripts are does the movie which

Jamie Nash 28:40
we've never read it, but I know it did.

Alex Ferrari 28:42
But that's the thing. And that technique they use constantly throughout the series, you'll be introduced to brand new characters, no and weird time frames. You'd even know what time of what the history of historical time did

Jamie Nash 28:56
much like last month, like last month when they did it. Yeah, you're

Alex Ferrari 29:01
just like, what, what's going on? And then you just like these weird characters, and then at the end, just like, and then my wife and I will be sitting there going like, well, who are these people? How are they connected? Like, where? Where is this line going? When are they going to meet and you just like oh, and I don't want to ruin it. But I just saw the one with the the guy with the internet who helped start the internet and there was like this the whole the whole series you saw this family and going through it and there's one of the guys who actually did the internet and created FaceTime and I was just blown away. I was like, Oh, that's brilliant. It was so well. Well I mean one of the best written shows on television currently.

Jamie Nash 29:39
No and and like i said i that so my book also breaks down a bunch of pilots. That's one of them. I there's a there's a whole bunch in the book. I tried to give something for everybody. I have Rick and Morty silent

Alex Ferrari 29:53
about breaking bad.

Jamie Nash 29:55
I didn't do Breaking Bad but here's my The reason I didn't. I guess I did. Only I tried to only do first of all, a lot of people have done Breaking Bad, right? And I mentioned Breaking Bad in my character section. There's a whole big thing about it. But I tried to only do shows that weren't yet canceled. So we're not finished, you cancelled as a rough word. But I tried to do shows that we get another season next year. Just the strategic longevity of the book.

Alex Ferrari 30:24
So Right, exactly. You're not going back to like Sopranos.

Jamie Nash 30:27
Exactly. And then I think they announced like a week later, this is also a next year, but still I have one year before it will be

Alex Ferrari 30:34
it is gonna it is. This is news to me. They are ending it next year.

Jamie Nash 30:38
Breaking News. They're built my wife and I but theory that maybe one of these spin off characters will just become some new iteration of this as us like a new family or something like of course, they could absolutely spin that off and continued same model, different family, different stories.

Alex Ferrari 30:55
Oh, yeah, you could absolutely absolutely, absolutely do that. Now, one question, had you, you talked about a beat sheet. How do you actually use a beat sheet in creating a Intellivision cuz I know how to do it in film, but how do you do it in television?

Jamie Nash 31:10
Sure. So what I did in the TV, and honestly, my experience comes from the place Snyder beachy, I teach college students, I bought cheats and stuff, so I know it really well. And in recent years, a lot of my students come and say, Hey, I don't want to write a feature, I want to do a pilot, can I do it your class, and I've, I've allowed them to do it. And over the years, I've learned some tricks. I've learned how it works and what doesn't have a lot of people that use the savings account, BG help. First of all, describe what the save the cat bt does, I guess the save the cat beachy is kind of this template that it spells out, what should happen when in a movie is the most crass way of saying it. So just as an example of a cue to the first act, just to give you a quick example. You start with an opening image, that's like page one, the first thing and it's usually something Matic image that shows captures the dramatic work or how the world is before the story starts. Usually its book ended with a closing image on the end. And you'd be amazed in a film if you took opening and closing image of your films, to see how there's a certain poetry there, how there's a certain book endedness there. Um, so anyway, opening images first, then you usually get a setup. The setup is all the things you'd think it's like the characters homework and play your main character who your main character is, what their life is like before the story starts. And that's the setup. And then you get to the catalyst, which is this lightning bolt moment that comes in like, it's Peter Parker being bit by a spider is a meteorite crashing into the earth. It's some, you know, some often random coincidence, some crazy thing that starts a story, it's meeting the person, you'll fall in love with that a rom com It's whatever that thing is. And that's the catalyst and that happens on page 12. According to save the cat, the first book of a feature film, so and it goes on and on like that there's a midpoint. That's that's like, you know, at your 50% Mark, there's the all is lost, which happens about 75% and that's the worst thing that could happen. That's Obi Wan Kenobi getting killed or your mentor dying or you know that point where you go into this woe is me thing because some horrible and then the darkness, the soul and the finale and everything else. So the 15 beats of the say that there's 15 beats in the save the cat beachy. You can get his book and check those out during my book I completely describe save the cat you can skip over the original book.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
I'm sure the save the cat people will not be happy with that. But yes, no, I'm joking. No, there's a lot. There's a lot you're getting bonafide, you can do it either way. Either way, you can get a lot you can get.

Jamie Nash 33:59
I'm sure Amazon has a buy to for cheap price right now. No, absolutely. I had people calling me right now on the phone

Alex Ferrari 34:08
like I understand I just

Jamie Nash 34:10
I'm so that that's the beachy. It's just kind of this thing. It's kind of like a fill in the blank. And again, these are all the most crass ways of saying it. It's a kind of fill in the blank template that you can go through and say, once I have this done, I'll have an outline for a movie. If I if I fill out all these sections, I'll have an outline for movie. The problem is, and by the way, there's a save the cat writes a novel book, that's hugely popular, because those people are even when I say those people, I'm one of them. novel writers are even more resistant to somebody telling them you know, here's a template, then film people are and it's, it's hugely popular in the Novel World. And it's the exact same template By the way, because the template is really Just a template on how to tell a good story. And, and it's really an adaptation of things that came before it was shared Aristotle journey. Yeah. Yeah Sinfield, all those things. It's, it's very similar to all all of those, but it has its own nuances and its own way of speaking the language, its own language. It's a language. Sort of

Alex Ferrari 35:25
now with with opening, like an opening scene of a pilot or a film for that matter. I love one of the reasons i'd love. I mean, Breaking Bad, arguably, is probably one of the best written Shows of All Time. That pilot though it is, it is a fairly, it's a it's a masterpiece, it really has you give another 15 minutes. And it's it's it's one of the best independent films ever made. If you do it, the opening scene, What's your feeling? Because with the templates, that you're laying out the beat sheet, you're laying down, the opening of that scene, and I'm a big fan of this opening of that movie is the end. And I love doing that because the audience is like, wait a minute, we How did it do? You're asking questions while you're going through it. And it's very powerful as a storytelling technique. Is that work inside the beat sheet somewhere?

Jamie Nash 36:14
It does. So this is I that one and I'm trying to remember Breaking Bad because while I remember the beginning, like I get mixed up later, because it starts blending in with the other

Alex Ferrari 36:25
so was when he so when he came when he comes out, it's like him coming out in his underwear in the middle of the desert. Yeah, which video right, that whole thing. And then I think it's ends with him pointing the gun at the camera, and then we cut to, you know, a week or two later or earlier, something like that.

Jamie Nash 36:43
So I, the reason I asked I'm not I never remember the the end of it, because it blends with the whole season. But I remember at the beginning,

Alex Ferrari 36:52
so that So my understanding if I, if I remember correctly, because it didn't just yesterday, I think we catch up to that moment. And then we continue. So like, that's generally it never ends at that moment, and generally is like a place where you pick up and then you keep going. So it's kind of like a really nice engine.

Jamie Nash 37:08
I was gonna say in a purest sense than it is a perfect opening and closing image because we're bookending you know, your your opening and closing on the same kind of thing. It's just that kind of thing. Um, one thing I realized, when I watched a ton of television shows getting ready for this book, I found some things that a lot of shares did. And there's a thing I call the opening pitch. And it feels like the first two minutes that teaser scene of almost every show is almost like something you could show up to an executives office, and just show them that two minutes. Like say, look, this is our show. What do you think, you know, what questions do you have? I'm breaking bad does it in more that teaser sort of way. Like, here's the coolest thing. We're going to give you mysteries and stuff to think about, like how did this guy in his underwear in this in this car in the desert and drugs and all that stuff. So they do it that way. But something like the Mandalorian for example, it gives you this Mini Movie at the beginning where he it shows his tools and shows how he fights it shows that it gives you Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars. And you could show that, you know, imagine if they showed that to us on YouTube, just that first. You know, that first teaser section in that case, it's longer than two minutes. If they showed you that you'd be like I'm in. I'm in I'm in. And the opening pitch. A lot of them are in character driven shows like insecure, or even marvelous, Mrs. maison, which is one of my favorite shows. A lot of times you get the main character just talking like, like, here's who I am. I'm just gonna pitch you me. so insecure. That starts with her, pitching herself to a bunch of kids and like it pulls back and she's talking to kids in the school. And they're like what, you know, you're going too deep here. Marvelous, Mrs. nasal. She's at a wedding and she's giving her wedding speech. And she kind of pitches her heart like who she is. And you see why she's funny. And it's like a stand up routine. And you could almost just put that like, here's who she is, and to an executive on the desk and be like, that's, that's who she is. So this opening pitch thing is something I definitely saw in the teasers where you get that first two minutes to just kind of lean forward and say this is our show. We're going to show it to you. I'm Rick and Morty. Rick and Morty. The first two minutes of that is a random Rick and Morty adventure. It's almost like a James Bond thing sort of like he gets the kid gets woken up they get taken on a spaceship there's a bomb or something going on. It's it's Rick and Morty in two minutes. It's like an episode of Rick and Morty in two minutes. So you find that this happens a lot and pilots like they that first two minutes they use so perfectly and even in shows like network tours like blackish was another show I analyzed. blackish is it's like a montage, but it has the main character giving his point of view, like what what kind of the blackish thing means to him. And it's basically an overview of the whole ship. It's like, it's like a teaser trailer for the whole entire show. So anyway, that's what I noticed about the opening pitch. Um, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 40:20
So you also talk a little bit about the wonky laws of pilot physics. What is that?

Jamie Nash 40:27
Well, it in some ways, it was really, in some ways that's there. It's two parts. In some ways. It's my catch all for all these weird things like the opening pitch. Like it was another thing I noticed I called the width of change stated. So in in pilots usually don't have full character arcs. But there's usually a change in almost all pilots, that might happen Episode Two, three, because if you change the character in every episode, it would be weird by you know, the season, it would be like they keep changing. But most pilots change the character in some small way like to make a commitment. So you know, there's some spoilers here for I'll give you a couple quick spoilers, but the Mandalorian I think, most people,

Alex Ferrari 41:12
it's on them if they haven't seen it, I'm sorry.

Jamie Nash 41:16
Exactly. But at the end of that, you have this bounty hunter who lives by a code. And he's touching fingers with baby Yoda. You know, it's like there's some change in the world that this bounty hunter is now going to protect. It's his minor change, and usually happens around the last scene. But another shows like, like justified or something and an older show, Christian get the character literally asking a question was I justified at the end of the show, like in a shooting in the in shows like Barry, which is one of my favorites, and I cover in the book with a with a sheet with a beat sheet. At the end of that, somebody comes up to him and they say, you know, I'm an actor, and he goes, I'm an actor, too. He's gone from a hitman to an actor at the end of the show. And he states it, he actually says it. It's amazing how many shows, you'll see that when you watch at the end of the pilots, they say what the change is. It's they verbalize

Alex Ferrari 42:14
it. So they actually show the character. So for us as an example, you start off James Bond starts off in the pilot as a mild mannered, whatever, you know. And then at the end of the pilot, I am now I am now a special secret agent. And then the show takes off from there. Now this is his adventures as a secret agent. And of course, he does change hopefully, throughout the series, somewhat, depending on the show, obviously, because some of these procedural shows these characters never change.

Jamie Nash 42:49
It's Yeah, no, but you got it exactly. Right. So whatever his arc is in that first episode, which kicks off the show, and it's not always this is why it's wonky. But it's so happened so often that I wonder if a memo went out, because you'll see it so often. But I think what it really points to is when you're writing your own pilots, while a TV show doesn't change a character, you know, every episode, your pilot should your pilot should add that movement. And the reason I think that's the case, your pilot almost needs to be cathartic. By itself, it needs to almost standalone a little bit like you could just go back to watch that Mandalorian episode, I'll say, Oh, baby Yoda missing that. And you could watch it almost in a vacuum and never watched another thing again, it has a beginning middle end. There's a change in the character. You get the feeling it's a pitch for the show. You're like

Alex Ferrari 43:46
oh, there is there there could be continuing adventures is the thing. Absolutely. The story itself solid. And when he touches baby Yoda, arguably Mandalorian could just okay, he you could stop right there and go well, obviously, he just returned the baby Yoda to the proper people. And that's the end of the story. Or,

Jamie Nash 44:04
yeah, we that's why the width of change as opposed to a character arc. It's not total character arc. It's usually a question. And in in a movie, I think it's very equivalent in a movie to when the character commits to that first act break. And the first act break a lot of times, like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars The whole time he's like, I can't go I gotta help with the blue milk farm or whatever he's doing.

Alex Ferrari 44:33
It's a it's a What is it? It's a moisture and moisture was a moisture food basic

Jamie Nash 44:39
blue milk farm. I think that would have been a lot.

Alex Ferrari 44:41
I actually like the blue milk farmers when

Jamie Nash 44:43
I reboot it. It's going to be a blue, blue cow. So by the time his parents are, you know, are his parents, his aunt and uncle are killed and realize their spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. There's in his home Burt, He kind of looks in He's like, he has that slight whiff of change. He's going on an adventure. Now, the only thing I'd say is a pilot. They almost say what the change is they almost physically, they almost verbalize it. That's, that's the amazing thing. But usually there's a slight change where they've gone from a moisture farmer to adventure by the end, and they make some commitment. And that'll be the rest of the series. That'll be the season you're

Alex Ferrari 45:29
watching. And Mandalorian did it so beautifully, because and they did it without words. They did it with an image. Yeah. And it was like this hard ass, just militant Samurai of of the universe, for a moment softened. When he saw and connected with this little creature, who we all just were like, our minds exploded when we saw baby Yoda. And you're just like, Oh, this characters changed forever, just because of that motion of him touching the finger. All of that is like I'm getting chills, dammit, damage on favor. But it's

Jamie Nash 46:06
it's true. By the way. Mandalorian pilot is also broken down in my book was one of the ones I chose. Smart. You had to backtrack to the thing you said Mandalorian has a hint of serialization or a screamer. It definitely has a mission of the week quality kind of a throwback to the 80s. Almost,

Alex Ferrari 46:24
it actually has like an 18 mesh vibe to it.

Jamie Nash 46:28
It has a serialized story running on the higher level. Sure, like it gets more serialized, like toward the later episodes in each season. But it definitely has like we got we got to help this person.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
Although it's literally like every episode like okay, we're gonna go break this guy out of jail. Okay, we're gonna go to this moon and we're gonna go do this. Or we got to go to the, to this, this, this base that we got to sneak into like, every week. It's something and it literally leads itself to the next episode. Like, it's so beautifully done. Like, what do we got to do now? Well, well actually doesn't lead to the next episode start so a lot of times he'll just be like fly flying off into space. And then the new episode, like pick them up from space. Oh, we're going to land on this planet. new adventure.

Jamie Nash 47:08
We need some fuel. We need some we need to blue milk.

Alex Ferrari 47:11
We need some lumic Oh, look at Seven Samurai. Okay, let's do Seven Samurai now on this planet and it's great. No, it's it's it's a wonderful show. I wanted to ask you something, though. With with television, the old school way of television where you had commercial breaks, there was a very specific style of writing that plot point breaks, or that had to hit because commercials. So it's generally like a five act. I

Jamie Nash 47:38
think it was a five act. It the funny generally vibe. It really depends on the network. You're on in the show. I it's it's funny, they're actually heavily heavily negotiated things. So the you know, like, if you're Vince Gilligan, you might be like, I only want four, there's no way I'm doing five, you know what I mean? And AMC is like, Walking Dead is 10 or whatever you want and dead as a time they just do it. They put commercials all over the place. And he could say, well,

Alex Ferrari 48:07
we don't have zombies dammit. So we're doing for.

Jamie Nash 48:10
That's right. That's right. And then and then something like mad men. I think the thing with that show was the showrunner said, I'm not writing them in, you figure it out. And they had to figure it out. They had to go in and put ads in. So they come kind of abruptly and Mad Men.

Alex Ferrari 48:25
But what but when writing, but when writing a pilot, let's say you because now Yeah, there's many more streamers than there are

Jamie Nash 48:34
network. But my advice to people and people take this the hard way. In some ways, I don't think they like hearing this necessarily. I don't think you have to write act outs at all in your pilots anymore. You can just totally forget about that for now. Once you're hired, or once they buy your script, then you worry about it. But nobody's judging your script on your where you put your act outs or even if you know what they are, they're purely judging it on story. And most I wouldn't even say most almost everybody I talked to said yeah, don't worry about the act outs. However, there are some people that like putting them in just because it's kind of like when people put smash cut in their feature, you know, it just feels something like smash CUT TO interior gym night, you know, and I think people like to put him in for that dramatic moment. Like, it's almost like what I say in my book, I always say right, you could write to them. And I feel like if you've replaced them with dun dun dun, you know, in your head, and that works for you then feel free to write to them because you really, they serve a valid. They serve as a valid inspiration to write to these big cliffhanger moments and have five of those in your script and stuff like that. Like if that inspires you to write page a page turner, then put them in or put them in in the Take them out in the end, if that inspires you, but you don't need them. And if they give you any anxiety at all, like, where should they go? Or should they be here there, then I'd say take them out, I've written for shows that have them. And it's funny when you get to production. There, that's when you get like the network version, like on our network, we do it this way. And they're very specific, like you, when you're running a pilot, the advice is, you can put them wherever you want. So Act One, it can be on page 12, it can be on page 10. It's your call 20. You make it up here, your network when you write a pilot. But once you get into a phase where AMC buys your pilot, they have certain network rules like it might be act, your act one act out most common between page 10 and 15. If it's on page 15, you have to give at least six pages before the next one or you know, they have certain rules that are unique network to network. I would advise not worrying any bit about that until they pay you to worry about it. Because you don't know if your shows can be on Netflix, or Amazon Prime where they don't have ads for Hulu, which has ads but sort of doesn't there, you know where

Alex Ferrari 51:15
it kind of does if you pay you don't it's it's the wild wild west like before. I mean, for decades, it was pretty much the three, three then four networks and television was just written that way. And that was just the way it was. And then all of a sudden, now it's literally 1000 different ways and 1000 different approaches and 1000 different things you can never can you imagine getting breaking down on the air? She's never would have happened never would have happened. You know, so it's like that would have never been able to get on anywhere else. Or madman, you know, like that. Yeah, that that doesn't seem like a good. Well, breaking Bad's arguably one of the worst pitches of history. And Vince Gilligan says I think it's a horrible, horrible, but I remember

Jamie Nash 51:59
I didn't watch Breaking Bad at first. I was like, it sounds like weeds. It's like weeds a little bit. I was like, I'm not gonna I love the weeds. But I was like I saw we I like her. I'm not sure that I like yeah,

Alex Ferrari 52:11
I actually I actually caught I caught it. And I and I came all the way up to the last five episodes. So the last five or six episodes I watched live, but we binged all the way up until then,

Jamie Nash 52:24
this is great way to season two. I picked up on it somewhere in season two. And it's just Yeah, it

Alex Ferrari 52:32
is. Yeah, it is what it is. Can you explain what a board is? And how do you use a board in the pilot? Is there a way to use the board in the pilot? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jamie Nash 52:43
So the board. This is what's kind of interesting about save the cats to see the cat is mostly known for this 15 point, beachy, right. But it introduced a lot of other cool concepts like write your logline before you write us up to you know, and things like that. The genres that we we mentioned briefly, but one of the big things that had from day one was this thing called the board and in a film, basically what the board is, it actually translates really well to television, because they use boards like crazy and television. A board is just an index, a cork board, it could be a digital board, it's whatever you want to make it but usually it's some kind of those aren't those it's those index cards that you buy pack, you get them at the grocery store. I think I buy one dollars 100 cards perfect for a movie or a TV show. So for $1 you can have your your movie by we save the cat as pre printed ones now they have like things to fill things and

Alex Ferrari 53:40
I've seen post it notes people use post it notes as well.

Jamie Nash 53:43
I use post it notes I'm gonna post it guys just they're more disposable. I I don't have a good board. So I just want to put pop it in your write your scenes down on it. So you know let's say we were doing Breaking Bad it might be like confessional scene, we might just jot down the basics of that confessional scene in the desert. Walt thinks he's about to die. That'll be postcard. Kak that up on the board, you know, second scene satis breakfast in the world. He turns 50 bacon, blah, blah, blah, whatever. We tack that up on the board. And basically we construct an entire show with these index cards. In a in a film. Blake's guidance was 40 cut. By the way this this part was revolutionary to me, even though I knew them. He told me this and I didn't know what he was talking about. So when we were doing that script, he said, Let's Okay, I think we're ready. I think we ever beachy. Let's do a 10 2010 and I was like, what's a 10 to 110 I just assumed all writers. He made this up. I mean, he made it up. Let's do a 10 2010 so what a 10 2010 was, was was 40 index cards. That's what he considered a feature film 10 were Act One 20 were act two, and then 10 were Act Three. So Act Two, as you see is twice as big as the other two, it really is four acts, that's the dirty secret of feature filmmaking. Act Two is to a, you know, act two is you get to a into Bay, and they get splitted. In twit. TV works the same way. So, you know, you'd cork all those 40 up 1010 2010 or 1010 1010. Four times. TV works the same way. But there's a lot less beats. And it just depends on my, the big thing I found in adapting save the cat. It adapts find radio pilot, it adapts great, I use it myself to write pilots. But what it doesn't adapt to. And what I've pulled away is the beat sheet is more like a to do list. And less like a This must happen at page 12. This much happened at page 30. Because what you find is a show like the Mandalorian, that opening pitch that cool scene in the beginning where it captures the person. And I think there's a monster that attacks him in the desert, he flies away and they do the carbon freezing and all that stuff. That's like 12 minutes long, it's 12 minutes. So if you were doing at 10 2010. And that was just your opening pitch, you you'd blow up, it's like sucking up so much juice of your timeline that you'd be in big trouble. But what I found in television is they spend time where they need to spend time, a lot of times in pilots, it's the setup, because they need to set up characters, they need to set up character, they need to set up worlds, they need to set up all this stuff. So they need all that time for the setup the first act, but then sometimes Mandalorian is a perfect example. The funding game section, which is the first part in in save the cat terms, playing games is the first part of that, too. It's usually the promise of the premise. So if you're seeing a movie, it's like trailer moments, it's like the monster went wild, or the people are on an adventure or something like that. But in the Mandalorian because they they do all that cool stuff in the beginning. It's really small, like fun and games, like he ends up there, he has to tame the beast that that creature I think, to ride, right. And, and him and the dog not go off on the adventure. And that's kind of all they do for fun and games is really small and mid twist and stuff like that happened afterwards. So they Intellivision, you, as a writer have to pick and choose what gets the space, all the beats get hit. But they don't necessarily get all the space like in a regular feature, where you say, you know, it's very rigid and a feature, it's like 10 for the first act 20 for the second act, and for the fourth in a in a save the cat television show. It could be it could be like I got five for the for the setup. I have three Brack two, I have three for act to be and then I have two for the finale or something you might do some weird combination. And I give a lot of guidance for that. It's it's sort of where it's sort of where crew television writing comes into play. Because television writers, often in writers rooms if you google writers rooms and you look up the Breaking Bad writers rooms, what you'll see is these boards, you'll see note cards and boards. They live and breathe all note cards and boards even more than feature writers do. It's really how most of them break story.

Alex Ferrari 58:33
Now, do you need to show Bible.

Jamie Nash 58:37
You don't need a show Bible. You don't need a show Bible. I do have a section where I tell you how to write a sort of a Bible light, which is a pitch document. That's what most people have. Most people have the one two punch of their pilot and some kind of five to 10 page pitch document that, you know, it sets up what season one will look like in a very high level, like a couple pages at most. It sets up who all the characters are. It tells what your personal connection is to the story. And that's the pitch document. But the truth of pitching television pitching television is usually done face to face. It's very rarely done like submit your pitch document to us. I have you do that for preparation, but also to prepare in case your call like somebody reads your pilot, and it's time they're like, Hey, we're bringing in you know, come on, you're ready to go. If you have if you do the pitch document I described in the book which was given to me over many years from managers studio exact solid, I'm kind of giving you the one they gave me. You'll be ready to pitch.

Alex Ferrari 59:48
Nice. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions to ask all my guests. What are three pilots everyone should read?

Jamie Nash 59:56
Three pilots everyone should read. This should be in here. Let's, um, rock solid ready. I, the truth is I'm trying to be original breaking Bad's pretty darn good. I just can't get away from it. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:10
I mean, if it I mean, it's like Chinatown is Chinatown. I mean, you're gonna have

Jamie Nash 1:00:13
to turn it down.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
I mean, godfathers Godfather, I mean, you gotta read it.

Jamie Nash 1:00:17
Exactly, exactly. Um, the other one that comes to mind. And it's not my book, because it's an older one is the shield. I think the shield is a great pilot. It has a great ending, that throws you into the next week. It gives you everything about those characters. But it also gives you a beginning middle end story. So it feels kind of procedural. But then it also feels like it also feels like it's got a continuing story, you want to watch the next episode, you want to get to the next episode. And I'll take one for my book. One of the ones I really liked for my book was berries pilot, it just fits really well if it does a really efficient job of being exactly what it is telling us surprising big beginning middle end story and setting up next week, all the while being the Matic character driven. So I'm a big fan of the berry one. I can't remember if I read the berry one I think I did. I think it's out there. I think you can get it because i think i

Alex Ferrari 1:01:15
think i think you don't get it as well. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Jamie Nash 1:01:24
I honestly I mean, this is no joke. If you can, if you can swing it television is the way. Honestly, that's why I wrote this book, because my students are going to television, I've been going to television for the last few years. Think television, think about these pilots, try to get yourself a good pilot. The other advice that I always give is you kind of have to prepare, yep, to make yourself better as much as you have to make your work better. Because it's a grind. Like we went over my screen in the beginning of this. If I told you, it's going to take you seven, eight years, before you get in the W GA, you got to be ready for that, you know, you got to be ready. And the way I got ready for it was I learned how to write five scripts and or six scripts a year 10 scripts a year. But I also had to like, understand failure and understand patience and understand all that stuff. So I'm a big fan of like, figure out how you're going to endure the long journey, as opposed to just find a way through the door. Like set yourself up so that you can be persistent. So you can be persistent over a 20 year period. And not like a wild person over a one month or one year period. You know, set yourself up for the long term, is what I'm saying?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
And what's the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Jamie Nash 1:02:58
Wow, that's a tough one. Um, because, you know, the lesson that took me the longest to learn in the film business is probably something I'm still needing to learn. That's, that's, that's the hard part about that question.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:14
Yeah, I get I get that answer quite a bit. And like, I'm still learning it I like but there's always something for me, it's patience. It's always been patience for me. Like, it's gonna take, it's gonna take twice as long if not longer than you ever expected to be.

Jamie Nash 1:03:26
I sadly I've learned patience. Not that it makes me happy. But I've learned that honestly. And honestly, it feels like I've just been ground down to the numbness of patients, you know what I mean? It's like, it's like, I'm so numb.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:39
You have no choice in the matter. It's the it's like, it's an acceptance of the inevitable. It's, that's all it is. When you're like I, I'm a patient person. No, you've just accepted the realities of the world. It's, and in our business, my God, nothing moves fast.

Jamie Nash 1:03:54
Nothing, nothing moves fast. I in sometimes that slow move. Like right now I have into three projects out there. One is getting notes at a super slow pace. The other is trying to attach a director at a molasses like pace because they're going to big directors and the others trying to attach an actor at them a lot. So when I say attach an actor, it's like a situation where you send a script out that goes to the agent agent takes a month to get back. Then they say yes or no, they usually say yes. And then it takes two months for the actor and you're waiting all that time to go to the next doctor. So it's like the slow slog.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
When I'm doing when I'm doing projects now I think of it as like it's a three years, three to four year project. Like I'm just I walk in knowing that if it's gonna be a three, like, Oh, yeah, in three or four years is going to get where I needed to be. But

Jamie Nash 1:04:51
I this isn't really one that I'd say to my lesson in regards to that. Like how I've learned to deal with that. It's not a lesson. It's a weird lesson because I, I don't want to put pressure on people to do it this way. I've learned that the only way I can stomach that the only way I can add patience is by spinning lots and lots of plates. That's why Yeah, that's why I'm doing that's what I'm doing save the cat rates for TV. While I'm writing a pilot, while I'm pitching a TV show while I'm doing while I'm reading a novel. If I don't have 10 plates spinning at a time, in some way, I mean, one of them could be an old script that's out there that's spinning, you know what I mean? It could be like a five year old script that I've kind of given rebirth through and sent to somebody. But if I don't have 10 things out there, I start getting anxiety. And that's part of what I'm saying for the long haul. Like, think about the stuff you're doing now may not pay off for like seven years, I've had a bunch of scripts that didn't sell for like six or like, I had managers that are people that would say, I don't think I don't think this one's very good. And then it's sold like seven years later. And it's not that they were wrong. It was just some it wasn't It's time. Yeah, the market changed. So get those things going. Think about them long term. But the only way I find to deal with failure, not failure, but rejection. And in the slow slog is that so many things, that today I'm talking to you, and I'm talking about safely cap rates for TV. I'm not thinking about all the rejections that are probably piling up in my email right now. I'll think about those once we hang up. But I have like 50 things going on. But right now I can only focus on this thing. So it's a great way. The best way to think you know, stem off that rejection, to stem off that that impatience is to start something else to keep moving to keep spinning plates. So it's a juggler, by the way. So plate spinning is great, great,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:55
great advice. I do the same thing I have. So actually have too many plates spinning to the point where it gets a little out of hand. And people are like, how are you doing that? I'm like, I'm just built to do that. I have 1000 things 1000 times and they're like, how many how do you put out that

Jamie Nash 1:07:10
circle? It can be weird because you probably couldn't stop it now. That's you

Alex Ferrari 1:07:18
know, like when I people were like, how do you put out for like three to four podcasts fresh every week with four shows or something like that five shows? It's like I'm like, I mean, if it was just one I'd be bored. Like I could do what I could do one episode a week in my sleep. Five is challenging. Are you telling

Jamie Nash 1:07:39
me I'd have to sit with my own thoughts

Alex Ferrari 1:07:41
for a while? No, I can't have a no, no, no, stop that. That's not possible. And very last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Jamie Nash 1:07:50
Yeah, this one. It's so funny. I keep changing this one for some reason. On my movies, by the way, are ones I've realized are ones I've seen in theater as a kid. Like they're my favorites, right enough. And unfortunately, I'm heavily in the Spielberg Lucas stare enough.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:07

Jamie Nash 1:08:07
I was in that, right. So I apologize for being lame as I'm about to be Raiders of the Lost Ark is my number one favorite. And now I start switching. These are the ones I start switching back and forth. Back to the Future. I'll put it number two. I love back to the theater. I like the mix of genres and the comedy. And then the third one is the one sometimes it's Robocop sometimes it's evil that too sometimes it's there's all these weird ones I mix back and forth. I'm trying to remember what I said the other day, sometimes it's Star Wars but first Star Wars. We don't call it a new hope in this house.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:42
Obviously, it's just it's just the star. Yes. Yes.

Jamie Nash 1:08:45
So it's it's and sometimes it's aliens. And I mix and match all those I saw him on the theater all good. I can't. It's It's strange, because even Back to the Future sometimes slides back to three and something else like et is another one. I mean, there's so many Joel's. But today I'm going to go with I'll just go with Star Wars because that'll make sense. Fair enough.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:08
Fair enough. I mean, you've had a Mandalorian I mean, you don't have to go too far with me. Now where can people find out more about you and where can they buy the book?

Jamie Nash 1:09:18
Oh, sure. Yeah, the probably the best place to see me is on Twitter. I'm at Jamie underscore Nash. I respond there. I do a lot of goofy messages, signup, follow me a lot of save the cat kind of stuff to a lot of writer stuff. So if you're in your writing stuff, I am definitely involved in the writer writing community on Twitter. So please follow me I'd love to have any interaction. And you can buy the book on Amazon that's the usual go to place but you can buy anywhere that sells books. It's it's in the markets in a couple Barnes and Nobles. It's funny. I'm constantly tracking like when's it going to show up at my Barnes and Noble like it's in. It's in like four places. In Maryland, where I live, but it's not in the one that's right across the street from my house. Think about it, I want it there. So that you can buy it. You can buy it anywhere you buy books, and the audio book is about to drop this week, or, I don't know this week, they Amazon says 30 days and it takes forever takes 30 days runs out like this week or next week. So soon. We'll be on your blog, if you prefer that. Some people do.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:27
Jamie, thank you so much. This has been a very educational conversation, I really feel that you were channeling Blake, when you were writing this book, because a lot of the things that you're saying ring, so save the cat in the way that you're presenting the information in a very simple, easy to understand method, which is what saved the cat is so brilliant and what Blake was so brilliant at doing so congratulations on the new book, and hopefully it'll help a few writers out there. So thanks again my friend.

Jamie Nash 1:10:55
Yeah. Thank you