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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.
Learn screenwriting from legendary screenwriter James V. Hart (Hook, Contact, Bram Stroker’s Dracula)
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Jamie Nash – IMDB
- Jamie Nash – Website
- Book: Save the Cat!® Writes for TV – Amazon
- Book: The 44 Rules of Amateur Sleuthing – Amazon
- Bulletproof Screenplay Script Coverage Service – Get Your Screenplay Covered by Industry Pros
- The Foundations of Screenwriting: Writing for Television & Netflix
- BPS Presents: Writing for Emotional Impact (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
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- Indie Film Hustle TV (On-Demand Real-World Screenwriting Education)
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
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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
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
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