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Alex Ferrari 1:44
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Jason Buff.
Jason Buff 1:49
Thanks for joining us here today. My guest is Corey Mendell Corey is an award winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for SC Ridley Scott Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford of Warner Brothers, universal 20th Century Fox, you name it, he's written it for you. I'm really excited to talk about to talk with Corey today because he is writing at the studio level. And we really even though this is indie film, it's really important to know what it's like writing at that level and how things work. You know, things like getting an agent, the importance of having a manager, things like that. And, you know, it's it's, it's really talking about something that I didn't know a whole lot about, even though, you know, I'm, as many of you I'm also a screenwriter, aspiring screenwriter, so it's good to know even though my aspirations are more towards indie film. Anyway, I learned a lot from from Corey, and I think he's actually a really good teacher as well. He teaches a workshop if you go to Corymandell.net. And that's Mandel with two L's. He's got a workshop there. And I highly, you know, I think he's got some some great things to teach. I think you should definitely check out his classes. And he's had a lot of success stories. So check that out. There we go. Here's my interview with Corey Mandel. Well, I guess the first thing we should start out with for people who are not familiar with you and your site and your work, if you wouldn't mind just giving us a little bit of background in your career as a screenwriter.
Corey Mandell 3:24
Sure, so I went to UCLA Film School, and this is back in the late 90s. And was really fortunate to launch my career by having Ridley Scott hired me to write metropolis. I'm still in some school. It was just amazing to be in a room with Ridley Scott, have him hire me, flew me to London. first time I'd ever flown first class, first time easy, new First Class existed. Living on top ramen noodles on a good day. And so, really committed to making the chocolate and it was the front page of variety. And ultimately, it didn't get made, which is a whole long story. But but he mentioned me and he mentioned the script and very positive way on the front page of it. So if you're looking to launch your career, have you heard this got very nice things about you and your scripts on the front page? Right? He's not that bad.
Jason Buff 4:24
Right, so that's step one.
Corey Mandell 4:25
Now if you have that list and so then I became, you know, the, the super hot writer in town for seven minutes. And, and I started next project was for Wilson Peterson, who just finished Air Force lawn. And I did a project for him. Did a project for working title I basically ended up doing over 11 years. I did 19 For Hire a studio project. And you know, for some of your listeners who may be are a little new to the studio gain. Basically what that means is, I would get hired, I'd have an original idea of pitches to the studios, they buy the idea, they hired me to write it for what was more often the case, they had a project, they had a writer or a couple of writers weren't terribly excited about where it was going to, they would hire me to come in and rewrite it. I would also sometimes get hired to adapt novels, or graphic novels. And then occasionally, I would do production rewrites, where you're actually on that when you're making a movie, you don't get credit. But you got a really nice paycheck and you are rewriting structure or comedy or characters on set. So that's basically, for someone who's going to work in a feature film business under assignment, kind of the range of the kinds of things you did.
Jason Buff 5:57
Now, what was the process before you got that project with Ridley Scott? I mean, how did you even get into that world?
Corey Mandell 6:05
Yeah, that's a great question. So what has happened is I had written a script when I was at UCLA, and one of my teachers was running development for Meg Ryan. And again, this is like 98. And Meg Ryan's a big star. And, and I somehow convinced the games, Kathy Raven to take a look at the script. And she read it. And she really responded to it. And she talked to Meg landed on it, and Meg really responded to it, Meg wanted to do it. So then you get the phone call that everybody wants, which is, you know, Kathy Raven calls me and says, Then Brian, no, very potentially interested in your project. Who was your agent? And of course, I said, I don't have an agent. And then she said, Would you like me to help you get an agent? And I'm like, Let me think about that. I would like that. And, you know, the thing is, the key to get an agent, and it's easier said than done is not for you to be chasing the agent, but for the agents to be chasing you. Now, probably the easiest way to get an agent to chase you is to write something that gets a major piece of channeler. Attached. Again, easier said than done, I understand that. So in that situation, I literally have DEA and William Morris, and I see him like top agent, like clearing their schedule to meet with me. So I did that over the next couple of days. And I I chose to go with ICM with an agent named Dan Karen. She's awesome. And so you know, put it in perspective. And parents at this time. She represents Kelly Corey, when the Academy Award for Thelma and Louise, she represents farmers, you know, and then little mini, so it's a little intimidating. It's really exciting. And then to make a long story, short, or somewhat short. Right, so neg Ryan is attacks now we have directors fighting for the project, we suddenly have studios fighting for the project, like this is going to be a big strip. So I'm gonna make a whole bunch of money, pay off my student loans, get a car license, good. And then a movie comes out. That's in the same genre. And somewhat similar but but really not that similar but somewhat similar. And it takes this takes at the box office and suddenly met Brian, or someone on our team decides maybe I don't want to do this. And then suddenly the women Ryan says that suddenly the directors are like, Oh, maybe I don't want to do this. And then of course, studios are like, well, maybe I know what to do. And I remember exactly. And one thing I'll say for your listeners and I, I'm sure that you have people listen to this, we've gone through this. And you also have people who are kind of new to the game and everyone in between, I'll just say that the experience I just went through. I constantly get calls from students and writers I've worked with, who go through the same thing if you get as close as you can, without it actually happening. And you feel potentially like there's something wrong with you for your curse. And the thing is, is when you start to talk to a lot for riders, you realize it's a pretty typical experience. And so, so at the end of the day, it was not going to sell which was crushing. But, you know, I had a writing sample and had an agent and I think most importantly, I had credibility because the script I wrote had attracted major star and so that gives you credibility. So my agent said, Do you have any ideas or pitch?
Alex Ferrari 9:51
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Corey Mandell 10:00
Because now you have this credibility, let's see if we can sell a pitch. And I said, yeah, so this is an idea I've always loved. And so I managed by her, but she said, Yeah, I think that can have traction in the marketplace. And then she pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. She was okay, let's do the fun part. Let's make our dream list. If you could sell this pitch, and work with anyone at all, who would it be? And the very first thing I said, was Ridley Scott. And she said, great to a great choice who else's, we made our list of like major a Lister. And it's sort of like, okay, that's our dream list. Now, let's start making a list of maybe one more classical folk, in case a dreamless. Doesn't happen. And but I got we went, she was let's start with Ridley Scott, since that was your number one choice. I went there and the development executive, they really responded to the pitch, they brought me into producing partner at the time, maybe she responded to this, and literally two weeks later, and it's a little embarrassing, but I get a call, and I set up really late. And I'm like, half asleep, when the phone rings, I think it's 1030. And my agent says, leaves in town, and like to hear your pitch at 1130. And it's going to take me 45 minutes to get going after shower, and shave and all that. So I said, Oh, that's exciting. But can I go in later today, like at three? And there's this long pause or ensure my agency? Why do I find this person and then very, very nicely, she says, Cory release in town. He'd like to hear your pitch at 11 o'clock. And I went, Oh, yes, I will be there. And I don't know. I but it really worked in my favor, Jason, because I wasn't nervous. I was everything just to get there. I'm nearly in a room pitching really before I think I thought I could process that that through this guy, because he was a big hero of mine. And, of course, yeah, any positive number. So in the room, he said, If you don't mind, I'd like to buy this. And I'd like to fly it to lend it and work with you on the structure. Have you raised it? You know, and it's like, Well, originally, let me check my schedule.
Jason Buff 12:16
Our people can talk and we'll figure it out. Yeah. So let me ask you, can I can I just pause on that for one second. And I want to make sure we talk about a lot of different things. But one thing that we're talking about right now is the pitch. So is there any sort of I mean, you're in your car, you're driving up, you're gonna see, you know, a legend. Yeah. I mean, you have to be nervous. What does? What do you do to like, make it all work out? I mean, what's your pitch? And how does it work?
Corey Mandell 12:46
How does one prepare themselves perfect? Or not get nervous? Or maybe actual? How do you? Yeah.
Jason Buff 12:52
I mean, what is? What what do you say? I mean, how do you take your screenplay and put it I mean, what is that, like a five minute six minute pitch, or
Corey Mandell 13:02
So this is not a screenplay. So you know, when people are pitching they haven't written. So generally, if you have an idea, you got two avenues, right? You can spec in, which is to write the script on the back. And then that's the thing that would be shown to people the actual script, or you can pitch it where you haven't written it yet, you have an idea, you're talking to people through the through the idea. And then if they like it, and they believe in you, as a writer, they'll buy the pitch, and then they'll hire you, the writer. Generally speaking, for those listeners who are kind of new to the game, you don't get invited to pitch these days, unless you have credibility. So it's even more so than when I was president. So generally, they're only going to listen to a pitch, and by a pitch from a writer that they are extremely confident can deliver on the actual script. So for newer writers, you're not pitching these days, you're stepping you want to prove not just that you have a great idea, but you can execute on it. So yeah, so what happened is, I went in there, and it was like a 45 minute pitch. And it was basically giving them the characters, and the world and the story and everything that happens and trying to do it in a way that was most engaging as possible. And then he asked me lots of questions. And we had a conversation, and we were really talking through everything. I was there for a couple of hours. And at the end of it, you know, he had a really had a really clear vision of what my vision was and what I was gonna go and write. And he said, Yeah, let's so then he lost the pitch. So I get a certain amount of money for that. And then also they hire me to write it, so I get money for that. So it's basically like you have an idea for scripts. And before you write it, you sort of embed it to make sure there's a market for and if someone's interested enough, they'll buy the idea and they hire you to write the script. And that's quite common in TV and And it happens in features, but generally is only going to happen to a writer who has a certain level of credibility.
Jason Buff 15:09
Okay, and what is the now for writers who are trying to understand what the relationship is with you and your agent, your agent is the one that got you in the room there in the first place, right?
Corey Mandell 15:20
Yeah. So agents are, your Salesforce agents are going to sell your stress. And or they're going to get you in the right rooms with the right people, for pitches or for writing assignments. So that was the other thing is, let's say that you write a script. And it goes out in the marketplace, everybody loves the script, they think you are a fresh, original voice, great characters, great structure, but nobody buys the script. It's just, it's not fitting what they're looking to buy, but everyone's life as a great Express. So at that point, you know, the agent will send you on around a meeting. And those round of meetings could be 20, to 30. And there's kind of three kinds of meetings, they're all going to be happening. So one is called a general relationship where someone's registered. And they're blown away by it. They're not looking to hire a writer for a project, they're not really looking to buy a pitch there. There's no, there's no money that's going to come out of this beauty. But it's a relationship building meeting, they just really love your script and your writing, they want to get to know you to kind of figure out, you know, if you're the kind of person you want to work with, if you're crazy or not, and a lot of crazy writers out there. And they just sort of what are you interested in, and let me tell you the kinds of things we're interested in, because down the road, they truly would like to find a way to work with you. And some writers get disappointment, because they'll take that meeting, and they realize somewhere during meeting, I'm not gonna get hired, there's no money that's going to come out of this. And those writers are the relationships are really important, because they're maybe six months later, that person is looking to hire someone, that that that you had a really good meeting with them, and they really want to work with you. That could lead to a job. So So you write a script. Everybody loves it, it doesn't sell, you go on around in meetings, and one type of meeting is this relationship building meeting. Another meeting could be they really love your scripts. If you have the right idea, they buy a pitch from you, and they will help you develop it. So that's a meeting where you're going in and they're like, hey, what ideas do you have? You're pitching. That's what that's what the kind of meaning that was really Scott, another type of meeting could be they loved your script, couldn't buy it. But we have, we have the rights to the graphic novel, or we have the rights to this article, or we have an idea that we've been kicked around internally, or we have a script that somebody wrote, We want a pretty big rewrite. And we want to make it darker, or we want to make it we want to make the character, this kind of a character or whatever, and you seem like you could be a good person for that. And so then what happens is you're basically being invited to audition. It's like an actor audition. So then, if it's a script, you'll read it and come back in, and you'll say, This is what I would, this is how I would change it, this is my vision for it. And they're talking to other writers do this as well. And then they're gonna pick the writer who they the vision that they liked the most. Or if it's an original idea that they have, or an article thing that you're gonna go home, you're going to come back in, and you're going to pitch what you would do with this idea, or what you would do with this article. And you're generally competing against other writers. So what the agent says is, they're going to try to sell your scripts, often, that means packaging, putting elements you know to make, the more exciting, they can go out. And there's a script for the star strip center director. And concurrent to that, we're gonna send your meetings. And again, these meetings could be relationship building, they could be you pitching original ideas, it could be them looking to hire a writer, and you go through around with those, and maybe somewhere along the way, you'll launch your career, you'll sell a pitch, they'll get hired to write something, your script will actually sell all of that possible. It's also very possible that the end of that none of that happens, you met a lot of people, you got a lot of great relationship, but at the end the day, you didn't get a job out of it. And then what you do is you're gonna have to give your agent another really great script, and you're gonna go through a second cycle. And there's you got a better chance of watching a career the second time around and the first time because he has relationships and also you're no longer one trick pony. You now proven that you are capable of writing more than just one great strip.
Alex Ferrari 19:53
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Corey Mandell 20:02
But it's possible that the second round, you still have a launch sticker. So you have to add another big step and go through a third round. And a lot of agents will say, if you go through three rounds of meeting, and you haven't landed your first job, there's a good chance there's something wrong with you, it's a good chance that you're not everybody plays well with others, you know, and if you were seen as defensive or arrogant, or just someone that people don't want to work with, then you know, no matter how great your writing is, it's probably not going to happen. But assuming you play ball with others, and what I certainly see if my students and clients, you know, by the third round meeting, they're getting their third shot. Now, what you do with that shot, the whole different story.
Jason Buff 20:53
Okay, now, you wrote a very good screenplay relatively early on, and you're coming even before your career to kind of even started what? What were the things that, you know, brought you to that level of writing? I mean, were you just born a good screenwriter? Or what? What happened in school that really made you able to write a good screenplay like that?
Corey Mandell 21:14
A great question. And, you know, there's so much misinformation out there, because I have a lot of friends or managers, and I'm not going to out anyone here. But what happens is, there's this myth that if you're a great writer, once you start writing you'd like to express, and it's just not true. I know, so many writers who I mean, I'm talking to Tony Award winning writers, I'm talking to writers, the creative, his TV shows, I'm talking about writers who make millions of dollars, who it seems like everything they write is just amazing. And there was five or six years where they weren't that good. And they were just getting a little bit better and a little bit better. And they were doing the right kind of training, but they're being mentored. And then what happens is, after five or six years, they finally arriving at a level where they can be taken seriously. They sell. And they will just say or their manager will make up some story. Like that was the first thing they wrote. And they just forget it on all the development. No, and that's really important people to hear that because it's a really abusive message otherwise, because if you don't realize that, and you buy into the fairytales, and if people are doing it strategically, it, it makes you sexier, and it makes you more desirable as a writer, just to be someone who naturally is a great fighter, like everyone, everybody wants to work with natural talent. So it didn't people's interest to pretend they have natural talent, but it's just I don't know, a single successful writer, who didn't start out as someone who had a lot of potential that kind of sucked, and, and was taught and mentored and got better. And so in my case, you know, and as a writer, I wouldn't, I wouldn't talk about this way, but I'm wearing my teacher hat. So I'll be completely completely honest, what happened is, I was in film school, and I never read anything and a friend and I kind of wrote a script together. And it sold as a USB cable movie star in Virginia Madsen. And it was a great concept. And if we were just a little bit better writers probably could have sold it as a feature. But at the time is the very first thing I wrote a co wrote it with a friend. So I kind of thought it was God's gift to writing because no one else in my film, school class sold anything. Okay, it was USA Cable, but it paid pretty good. It was Virginia back then it got made, it was very successful for cable movie. I mean, for your first time out, at least for me, I was thinking that so shabby. So my friend and I had a big, falling out for collaboration and did a whole another long story. But so now I'm solo. And I write the script. And I'm in a writing group. And they're like, professional working writers in this group. And we're all very honest with each other. And I showed it to them. They really liked it. They had some notes, they had a few issues, so did a rewrite. It shows them some notes rewrite, you know, it goes but I eventually got the script to the point where they're like, this is great. This will sell this will launch your career. And I'll show it to my agent if you want. This is so this is one of the best scripts I've ever read. And of course, I'm thinking, Who am I to argue with that assessment, right? And so I showed the film full professor and he reads it and you know, saying the best thing ever read, definitely gonna sell. I'll get it to, you know, help you get an agent yada. So at the time, I was working for this manager, and almost a favor. I said you want to read the script, like I will say I was like entering that wasn't represented by her. And so he read the script, and we met Anna Never forget, he said, it's it's pretty good for like a dirty first draft, you don't want to show anyone in the industry that script, you only get one first impression. The scripts not that good. But it has potential. And I this was a weird disconnect for me because I've not what I've been told by everybody else, and when he said is your professional writers, professors, friends, being honest with you, but they don't know how hard it is to break in the business, they don't know the bar that you have to ship. And by the way, that the late 90s, the bar is a lot higher today. And he said, every time you follow the script to get coverage, and coverage, get database, everyone shares it. So if the scripts not like the scripts good, but it's not amazing. And there's a big difference between good and amazing. And in this industry, nobody cares about good. They basically said, I'll work with you, if you're willing to put the work in to help you help make the script what it needs to be and help you become a better writer. And I was really honestly torn at that time, because I was thinking maybe his opinions just not valid compared to everything else. And so he suggested something that I suggest to all of my students and clients, which is you really think your scripts ready because you only get one first impression. And that's the most cherished asset you have is your first impression. So what he suggested is go hire studio readers, like literally hire people who I hired someone from imagine someone from, like Warner Brothers, like actual working readers pay them under the table, it was like 100 bucks, and have them do the coverage report, they would actually do the scripts, not in tracking, it's not their coverage report goes to you. Nobody else because it's not officially in the system, you're paying them to do the coverage report, they would actually do if the script had come through the system. So I didn't have the money to do it. But I did it. And when the coverage has come back, one of the things they will do is they'll evaluate the writer and they'll say, recommend, consider or pass. And I think that all came back pass on the writer, which was a real kick to the guy. But at the same time, I was so appreciative that I knew that, you know, and I didn't make the classic mistake of listening to everyone telling me how great it was fine. So I took it off the marketplace. And now suddenly, you know, my name for stress path is what everybody has in the record. So I worked with that manager. And you know, it is a year and a half. And in that year and a half, like I learned everything I didn't know. And I learned what my weaknesses were and worked really hard to turn them into strengths. And after a year and a half of brutal work. This manager is not a pleasant person. And he did not. He was smarter. He know how to work with writers very well. So it was a brutal experience. But I learned a lot. And at the end of it. He's like, I think it's now ready. I'll pay for the coverage. And he bought he paid for some people to do the coverage. And the coverage is all combat recommend recommended recommend. And that was the script that I then showed Captivate and all this happened. So no, I as a writer, I would I would have said the following. I went to film school and the producers program. It wasn't the screenwriting program. I didn't think I could be a screenwriter. I took a class where they made us write a screenplay I didn't want to because I was supposed to be a producer and I took this class, I wrote the script. The teacher read it. Next thing, you know, Meg Ryan is attached. Next thing you know, by the way, all of that is true. I just I just took out that year and a half. Right or bootcamp?
Jason Buff 29:07
Well, okay, can you can you explain kind of what happened between the version that you thought was good that your manager didn't think was very good. And the one that he finally thought was good. I mean, what changed?
Corey Mandell 29:18
It was just learning a lot about story structure and character development and conflict and all the things that I work with writers now and I coach them through this process. And the thing is, there's such a big gap between good and amazing. And there are a lot of writers who will read some books, they'll read some scripts, they'll watch a lot of movies and TV shows. They have a bunch of natural abilities. They work hard, they have plans or underwriting and they can get themselves up to good or maybe really good, but they can't set themselves up so amazing and so hard to get. It's different for each person, but
Alex Ferrari 29:56
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Corey Mandell 30:05
You know, everybody has inherent strengths. As a writer, everybody has inherent weaknesses. And everybody has blind spots, and play slots are weaknesses that you don't know that you have. So when I'm working with someone, the first thing is to help them understand what their blind spots are. So at least now they're known weaknesses as opposed to unknown. But then really, the important thing is helping people get dedicated exercises, and dedicated practice, so that they can turn weaknesses into strengths, and absolutely can be done. It takes time, it takes training, and the key is to work with someone who can help coach you through that. Because the thing that sad for a lot of people is a lot of the books and classes, the teaching rules, and their teaching paradigm, and formulas. And a, the industry is moving so far away from that, that most agents and managers won't even look at it, if that's what you're doing. Because that's not something they can work with anymore. But also be you learn a bunch of rules and a paradigm you feel educated, but you haven't become a better writer. It's not that insight out process approach, which is, what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What am I blind spots? And then how do I turn weaknesses into strengths? That that's the road to transformation. And the thing is, managers, especially good managers, yes, but that's what they will do. They'll, you know, they have their client base, they're making money, then they have their beating, they will take some people they think, have potential, and they'll develop those writers in exactly the way I'm talking about. Or you can get mentored by, you know, a successful writer can help coach you through that process. Unfortunately, a lot of classes and the books do the opposite. And that probably sounds really self serving, because sometimes I'll do a commercial for my workshops and, and for fiber trusses. And against that, you know, and so if you want to take all this with with a typical grain of salt, I understand. But the thing is, what I endeavor to do in my workshops is to help people have to get the current training that they would get if I had a manager or a mentor. And and obviously, that's Hello, everyone knows, if you have a choice between my workshop, and an actual manager or writer who can mentor you obviously go with the manager or the writer, because like, that's better than the workshop, the workshop is there for people who aren't able to get that at this point. And so I get a lot of MFA students who have a lot of education in the realm of rules and paradigms, and they're writing. They're not overcoming core weaknesses. So they keep writing scripts that are similarly flawed. And they're writing formulaic, predictable, generic kinds of stress, which is exactly the wrong type of script to workout.
Jason Buff 33:14
Okay, now, so I assume things like save the cat, and all those things are kind of like, you know, you would consider that really going in the wrong direction that people aren't looking for that sort of thing anymore.
Corey Mandell 33:28
Yeah. So again, the thing is not what I say. But even some managers say, right, because otherwise, it's like, I'm somebody that saying, Oh, don't listen to that teacher or writer. Come listen to me and spend your money. Right? Like, okay. It doesn't matter what matters. And that was the agents and managers say, and so the reality is, agents and managers in this marketplace, in feature and in TV, are looking for Pitch Perfect, authentic scripts. And they're looking for scripts that are authentic, which means authentic characters. But an authentic voice is a script we haven't seen before. It's a story we haven't seen before. That is pitch perfect execution very difficult to achieve this as a writer. But putting that aside, the scripts go viral, which means when someone writes a script like this, and shows as its own industry, they talked about it and they, it's all the friends that a script gets passed around, and there's above. And that's what's required to brace the writer out of all of the white noise that everybody's trying to break in the business. So if I'm an agent, and I find you and now I'm getting on the phone, I finally I don't know you might have sold a bunch of stuff out of my a lot of might have a lot of credibility. Let's just say you're a newer writer. Nobody really knows who you are, and you don't really have any credibility. Again, I'm not saying that's true for you, but let's just say that's true. So I'm an agent. I'm now calling everybody saying you gotta read Jason script. And I'm basically putting my credibility on the line. I'm chasing people to read your script. And they'll eventually do it. But they're busy. And they'll get to it eventually, as opposed to, if you write a script that everyone's buzzing about, everybody's talking about that. Have you read that? It's like what used to be the blacklist, the blacklist, everybody's talking about the scripts, everybody's buzzing about those. Now, people were calling me the agent thing, talk to him. I'm not meeting with Jason, I want to meet with Jason. That's a whole different game. And more importantly than that is so let's look at this way, if you're an agent, let's say you have your, your basic, like me, your sort of basic client. And so here's, here's how porting Mandell game work. There be a writing assignment, you would call and say I think Korea is perfect for this. And here's why. And they probably have heard of me. I've got a track record. They say Sure. We'll put Korea's name on the list so I don't get to compete for that job. Other agents are doing the same thing. Bunch of riders are competing for that job. I don't get it. So now you're pulling somewhere else and you're getting me to compete for another job, you're putting energy and eventually I took a job and you get 10% of my money. And I'm I made really good money. So you're making 10% of really good money. Okay, that's not too terrible as an agent. But, you know, my agent also represents Aaron Sorkin. So first of all, when Aaron Sorkin makes a tremendous amount more money than I do number one, so right away, much more valuable player. But number two, how do you get Aaron Sorkin the job? Yeah, answer the phone winner. Right. He's an ageless writer. So a basic working writer is always chasing job and aimless writer. Everyone's chasing him. So someone calls my agent and they go, we've got this novel, we think Aaron are perfect for you know, my I don't know exactly what my agent says. But he probably says this. So there is quote is probably really high. And you agree to it. And then I'll give her in the book with the if Aaron interested. I mean, you would rather have one Aaron Sorkin than 20. Korean Adele. And so as an agent, you're looking for people who have the potential to be at least writers in both TV and feature films, that's where all the money is. And someone who follows save the cat or other such sort of paradigm formula. These scripts do not become a list writers. So when you look at scripts that have launched a list career like Juno, like American Beauty, like Mad Men, we can go on and on, we're not following the Paradise, their authentic scripts are original. And so the feminine agent, and somebody has written to one of these formulas that a lot of summer movies are going to follow. And by the way, just between you and me, I wrote a lot of summer movies. And I also would follow the formula, because if you're working for Warner Brothers, and they're doing X man five, they're not looking for American Beauty. Okay, so someone who can sort of cheat on that hero's journey, paradigm. The thing is, let's say you're an original writer, a new a new writer, and you write one of those scripts. It's not as easy as it looks to really make it interesting. It's not as easy as it looks. It's sort of like I see it as easy as it looks to follow the form. But let's say you can do it, let's say you can do it. And so people, we just get a brand new writer, like hey, this guy can smartly follow a formula. Who cares? Really, who gives us that? You know what, because there's a lot of writers that can do that. And some of those writers are like Corey Mandel, who has worked for really big people, and like Ridley Scott, and will say this, and they've always wanted to work with me again. So like that, that gives me a lot of credibility. I have a track record where I've worked under deadlines. I've been in situations where, before I'm turning a script in the studio call me and they want a completely different direction. And I can pull that off, I proven that I could pull that off. So I have a huge advantage over you. And then of course, the person who wrote Guardians of the Galaxy has an enormous advantage over me, you know, because they've written something that's made a tremendous amount of money. My point being, there's people who can follow there's a lot of people to follow a paradigm. They have a track record, you tell. So why does anybody care? Nobody cared. So agents are are constantly sending me people to my classes. It's like I can't break somebody in the business because they followed a conventional Paradise.
Alex Ferrari 40:02
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Corey Mandell 40:11
Because nobody will read that, like nobody cares. As opposed to you write a script that nobody's seen before. It's really fresh and exciting. And it gets people's attention. It's what's called a head turning script. Now, I worked with someone who spent a year and a half gold to write that script wrote that script didn't sell and they got offered like, Oh, I think it was like three anagram for right panda bear three, or pandas or four. And you like all these? Like, I don't know if I should do it or not, because I've worked so hard to build the right to this level. Now they're asking me a lot of money to do a formulaic, you know, paint by the numbers strap, and what do I do? And my answer was, my job is to help you to get to the point where you have that decision, you make the decision, right? If you think it will go either way, personally, me, I just always took the job. I always took the money. And we think that was smart. But that's what I did. But my point is, the disconnect, that a lot of people make is there's these people that are like code breakers, they go look at all these movies coming out in the summer, I decoded what happens on every page. And then they teach this paradigm. And then writers go, well, I should write a script that you know, is commercial, I want to break in the business. This is what the studios are. Summer, I should write a script like that. And the exact opposite. That's true agents will tell you. Most of the clients I signed, I signed off of scripts that I was really confident I couldn't sell because they were different. Their original, like Eric Singer wrote the script, the scars falling is so violent, so dark, that nobody was going to buy the script like nobody, but everybody had to meet this guy, everyone had meet the guy who wrote this. And people want to find a way to work with it. And so he was booking assignments and making what I think is nice six figure income year in and year out, except writing original material. And eventually, one of those one thing you wrote, got Native American Hustle, and that was a big ADOS writer, probably make in, you know, millions of dollars. But for many, many years, it was a working writer making six figure income off of a script that didn't follow the paradigm didn't follow the form. It was just so original, and so dark and so messed up in a good way that everybody kept that script, right? Everybody said, have you read this guy, so you've got to resist? That's what agents and managers, you know, that's what they want. They want something different, and original. And even if that is a sample that you use to start writing, straight down the middle, save the cat summer strips bought, but you can't, it's really difficult to break in the business wiping stuff like that. Because it's a dime a dozen. It's just nobody cares.
Jason Buff 43:16
Can you talk a little bit about for example, when you're looking for people who are trying to break in as screenwriters, you know, what are the essential things that they need to do if they're, I'm assuming what you're saying is people need to submit just amazing samples. I mean, let's say you don't have a vehicle where somebody like Meg Ryan wants your screenplay. And you're, you're just going the direct way. And saying, I want to find an agent to you know, to support me, what is the what kind of spec screenplay Do you think they that were kind of like work for them?
Corey Mandell 43:52
Well, so what works for people again, is Pitch Perfect, authentic and authentic would be, you know, a strip that only you could have written that's completely original. So, you know, David Tyler wasn't sitting around going, I wonder what to sell in the marketplace. I've got a script about, you know, guy with a stuttering problem. But the King's speech was something that he was really impassioned to write. He had, you know, he's publicly discussed that he'd had a stuttering issue. And there was just a very personally important script for him. And he looked upset. And, you know, he wasn't trying to game the marketplace. He was just trying to script with an amazing character mazing story that was he was really passionate about and you read that spirit. It doesn't read like any other script. It's like we read American Beauty. You don't get another one of these scripts. There's just something original about it and different and it doesn't have to be a quirky character piece. Again, the sky is falling. You know about the animal world and his precepts going around killing people, and it's very dark and it's very violent. It's certainly about judo from a tonal point of view. But there's just something you hadn't seen that before. And there's something unique and powerful. And so you look at a script like Groundhog Day, you know, it is a classic wrong call. But it just doesn't. You don't read that spec script. For you another rom com scripting, the film itself isn't different. There's just something different and original, and exciting and fresh about it. That's the type of script and the thing is, net. When I go and speak at events, you know, I always hear writers complain out so hard to get an agent or to get a manager no one wants to be at work. No one wants to represent me. They only want to represent no and commodity. thing is that's just not true. I was the last couple days, I've been dealing with managers. And they all have the same complaint. We can't find enough new, really great writers, you know, and they're all like, who are your students shouldn't read. They're there, they cannot find enough news. There's so many opportunities for writers now particularly in TV. But more and more features. Missing is it's not looking. It's not looking for new writers. That's that's pretty easy. And it's not looking for new writers who thinks they're really great, because that's a lot of those people. It's new writers who really are amazing. I mean, if you look at the script for Juna, you look at the script for American Beauty, you look at the script for madness. Yeah. Yeah, sorry. My phones are the worst thing ever. I mean, these are. These are amazing scripts. So like, I know, the guys that wrote. They wrote the spec script for the net, the TV show. I mean, that script was really great. And Steven Soderbergh who had retired, we got that script and read it and that learned him back. People still talk about the game of thrones pilot script. It's just an amazing piece of writing. The Americans and then from that pilot went around town, and everybody was about everybody's talking about that scrap. And the thing is, there's a lot of skill and ability that goes into writing at that level at the highest level. And as a new writer can write to that level. managers are looking for that. That scarcity here, I'm sorry, I used to be an economist of some time, this was an old pattern, the scarcity is not. So now this is really important. Because if there is a scarcity was on that front, which is what everybody thinks, which means you've got all of these new writers who can write amazing scripts, and there's just not enough agents and managers to go home. If that was the case, and you were one of those writers, how do you persevere Well, lock, connections, relationships. That's what those baskets require.
That means, if you're a new, amazing talent, as a writer, I'm not saying you're gonna sit at home and look up find you. But I'm just saying, getting the managers actually easy, because they're looking for you. HBO has executives who are out waiting to win at plays, looking. through YouTube, they're looking for fresh, original, new voices. The thing is, there's obviously a lot of people out there that want to be writers to have an original unique voice and take have passion about the Red Book. There's a lot of those people. That percentage of those people who can write Pitch Perfect you can write to a level that people are looking for, you know, is 100th of 1% at best. And so the key is, I think a lot of writers get taken advantage of because there are businesses out there that basically say, what stands between you and a career is access. And don't worry, I can help solve that for you. I'm going to have this pitch fest or I'm going to shop your strip or I'm going to list your scrap grime. Whatever it is, I'm going to help you get access if you're willing to give me some money.
Alex Ferrari 50:00
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Corey Mandell 50:10
So, you know, there was a pitch fest that I used to go and KeyShot. And I'm not doing it anymore, I just don't feel good about doing it. Because there's, you know, five 600 People coming to LA paying hundreds and 1000s, not hundreds of 1000s, hundreds or 1000s of dollars, and they get the pitch in front of people, they get five minutes to pitch. Well, no one's gonna buy their pitch. But what they might do is like your pitch, like your energy, like you, jeez, can you write at all, there won't be that blunt about it. But they'll say, give me a writing sample. And then, if that lighting samples amazing or close to amazing, then we'll bring you in for a meeting and really start to see if something can be there. And I was just talking to all his executives, and a lot of them like, yeah, we're just not going to do this anymore. Because we've gone through three or four years worth of these, we've asked for a couple of 100 writing samples. And so far, not one writing sample was anywhere near good enough for us to bring that person in. So it's just a complete waste of time for everybody in the bubble. So now, obviously, if a listener if they are in a position there that point oh, well, in a one percenter new writer, they don't have a track record, they don't have an agent or manager. And they are writing Pitch Perfect, authentic, they're able to do this. Sure, if there's, someone can help them get some access. Why not. But the reality is, for most people, they're spending so much time and energy and maybe money, trying to solve the access part. As opposed to spending time and energy, figuring out where they are as a writer, and what they need to do to get to become a better writer. So it's sort of like people are spending all this money to get interviews for surgeons job because they really want to be a surgeon, because it's good money, it's good benefits. They never been in medical school. So yeah, you can spend all this money and get an interview in a hospital, but they're never going to hire you. You know, as opposed to spend your time and energy actually getting medical training, so that you're qualified for the job. There's so many people out there who just aren't qualified, and they're not doing the training to get there.
Jason Buff 52:29
Now, do you think that getting a manager is an important step to like, I mean, should you try and do that before you try to go find an agent and, you know, really get you in shape.
Corey Mandell 52:40
Yes for all bunch of reasons, agents, especially these days, they are felt people, they are not there to help you careers are not there to develop you. They're not there to take your script and say it's, it's close, but it needs to get better. They're just a sales force. And the manager is someone that is going to help develop you help understand in your career. So first thing, yeah, I would definitely go for a manager before you get an agent. First of all, a manager will let you know when you're ready for an agent. And they'll protect you. And not and keeps you from ages until you're ready to help develop your third good manager, careful a lot of bad manners, okay, I'm assuming it's a good manager. And then when it gets to the point where you're ready for an agent, they'll know who's good agent for you. Because the thing is, is all agents have a superpower ability sitting in a room and somehow know what it is you want to hear and tell you what you want to hear. Even if it's not true. So a manager is going to know you your personality, your writing, and they're going to be in a place to help figure out what would be a good agent for you.
Jason Buff 53:59
Is there any way to make sure that you're finding the I mean, a good agent? I mean, where where's that kind of? Where do you find them?
Corey Mandell 54:08
So the thing is, is you don't you don't find an agent? Because
Jason Buff 54:12
I mean, sorry, I was talking about a manager who went how, like, how do you go about finding a manager?
Corey Mandell 54:18
Right, so it's actually not that hard. So one thing you want to be careful about as I'm starting to see, more and more as these management companies are just taking advantage of people. So like, you don't want to find the manager that's charging you, you don't want to manage it taking 10% of anything, you know, like lead management companies actually like taking if you're an editor or a web designer, they're gonna take 10% of your income. So there's these scams out there. You gotta be careful of that. But that aside what you're looking for. It's not hard to network, it's not hard to find out who's a good match. Companies are. And so you know, the management companies, you reach out to them and you just reach out to like the lowest person like the, the intern, the, or the creative executive who's reading stuff like the lowest person on the food chain, you have a nice little 32nd lending minute little presentation, you call enough of them, there's a good chance you are in one or two of them. Take a look at your script, which really means well just take a look at the first couple pages to see it. You know how to write and if your script is amazing, you know, there's a really good chance that that you'll hear back from them. But the thing is, I know a lot of those people, a lot of those people are my students. And they'll tell you 99% of the time when they're amazed at is how bad the steps are, you know, it's not amazing. It's not amazing. If there's writers out there that think they're where they are, there's writers that think the script is really great, and it's not, what they find amazing is like, how wide that gap could be. So it's not, it's not hard, at this point to get people in management companies. Especially like the lowest level person to take a look, if you live in LA, like these folks who like the newer people demand for accounting, they're networking, they're always going to network events that go on the rightest, those events are extremes at certain parties, it's so hard to get plugged into that circle if you live in LA. And if you don't live in LA, that's okay. You don't have to move to LA. You know, with the internet, it's not hard to find out who these people are, and reach out people via Twitter and Facebook and email. And it's just, it's, it's not that hard to get people to read scripts. I'm not saying it's easy, but what I'd say is do training yourself to be able to write the kind of script that when somebody reads it, it has a positive outcome for you. That's so much harder than getting someone to read the script. And the mistake, the biggest mistake that writers make is they, you go out to a management company, you get someone to read your script, it's just not that good. It's probably it like, it's probably not gonna read a script, and a database this stuff, so suddenly, maybe you have to just burn your bridges out you got to burn your bridge elsewhere. Your first impression is precious. And you're like some minor leaguer. And when you get pulled up to the majors, you have to hit all run the first time. That's that's not how it works in baseball, right? It's very minor league, your show a lot of potential for the majors, you strike out the first time, they probably don't send you back, it's hard to get the batting coach that worked with you, you strike out enough times we're gonna send you back. It's not like that here. There's so many writers want to break into business, so many people that it's sort of like you get your shot. And if you don't knock it out of the park, you might not get no shock. Here's something that's pretty chilling. And I'm not going to quote the name because I don't have permission. But not that long ago, I was talking to an agent at a at a one of the bigger agencies. And they said something that I think it's really important for listeners to hear. He said, if if you if he said if we read a script from a new writer, and we don't think that script is just Pitch Perfect, authentic, now kind of represent that writer ever. They're blacklisted. And at first I got kind of upset, because I know for a fact that if writers can engage in the right kind of training, they could dramatically improve. And so Okay, so this, right, or maybe isn't where they need to be today. But three years from now, or two years from now, or four years from now, they might be an amazing writer. And so I just got to set you know, the teacher in Munich got really upset and as far as to push back, and he knew exactly where I was going to shut me down and said, No, no, you don't get because we made a strategic decision to not be in the stupid locker business. And that's when I was like, Whoa, now I don't know what you're talking about. Because it's really simple. You know, if you get hired by Wolfgang Petersen, right? You have a deadline, like at some point, you've got to turn that script in, no matter what, and you got to make it as good as you can. But you've got a deadline. If you're trying to break in the business. There's no deadline. So if you're trying to break in the business, and you have moved mountains to get me to read your script, or someone else in my agency, if that script is not Pitch Perfect, authentic, you're an idiot. And we don't want to represent stupid writers because even if their writing improves are so stupid
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Corey Mandell 1:00:08
And stupid writers, they just take more time and energy, they create more messes. It's just, you don't want to be in a stupid writer. And I would respectfully disagree with this person, because I work with writers. And I know that a lot of writers go out with scripts when they shouldn't. And it's not because of stupid. It's just because they're insecure. It's because they're impatient. It's because their delusion fooled. And it's just, they're listening to their own people, because I know what it's like if you're writing groups, or your teacher is telling you to scrape or even worse, people spend money to go online, and they hire someone to do coverage of the stress and you know, our script consultant. And, and if people have really good, impressive credit, well, the thing is, if you're online marketing yourself as a reader or script consultant, that's probably a big part of your business. And so you want repeat customers, and happy customers are repeat customers. So a lot of these folks that reputation for skewing everything positive, I think that's true of all of them, but a lot of them. And so, no, someone will go online, find someone who used to work at DreamWorks and Warner Brothers and pay this person X amount of money, and this person says, your scripts brilliant, you should go out to the marketplace, I can understand how that provider would feel confident in that doesn't mean they're stupid means they're a little bit a little naive. They're not stupid. So. But the point is, people get blacklisted. Yet your first impression means so much. And every agent or manager that I bring into my UCLA classes or workshops, they always say, single biggest mistake that writers make new writers is going out to the marketplace before they're ready.
Jason Buff 1:02:07
Right! So can we, I want to change gears for just a second and talk about actual, the actual writing process and some of the ways that people can improve. Now, when you talk about not using these paradigms and things like you know, the structures that are kind of pre built, and it's kind of like riding by numbers, or whatever. You know, for a lot of people and a lot of the screenwriters that I've talked to, that are not at the same level you are, but there's writing independent films. They kind of rely on that stuff to you know, when they go into the abyss, and they're trying to put together their story. They use that sometimes to kind of put things together and figure out, you know, how everything's going to look, what what is your advice for, you know, let's say for example, before you're ever writing and sitting down and you know, writing the actual screenplay, what is your process for building that blueprint and that structure of your story before you begin?
Corey Mandell 1:03:03
So that's a great question. I'm gonna have to respectfully say like, it would be an entire podcast in itself. But here's what I'll say. So, you know, I got hired to write metropolis. warbirds. It's kind of a talked about, and I'm in London, like, it's a second night, we're having dinner. And the producer leans over and says, Hey, I know you, you go to UCLA Film School? Because you've learned that 3x structure of this and, and all that stuff? And I'm like, Yes, I have. Because if you tried right, to that, yes, using different words, I will fire you so fast, your head will spin and I'll bring in a real lighter. And I, I thought he was joking. I started laughing. And then he said, I am not joking. And fortunate, though, part of the day, he took me under their wing, and they taught me stories design and organic story structure. Because actually finish the story that I'll backtrack. So you know, when it was on the front page of variety that really Scott was making, it identifies all these big parties around town, I was the guy for like, seven minutes. And I was at a party extra, my agent, the house, and you know, Callie Corys, their uniform and all these writers who like, had careers, I could only dream. And it was shocking. They all just make fun of the writers who follow these paradigms. And so what are things that do make you feel like ah, because a lot of my students have had that paradise hammered into is operating in an agent from an agency and I'll ask them to bring in of all the writers they signed in the last year to bring in the scripts that they signed those writers off. Because, okay, if it's Kelly, Kelly, Corey Feldman, Louise's Cody, as you know, you know, you can your listeners do get access to those scripts, but a lot of times you know, if it's Eric Singer, and it's this guy's fault, that trip didn't get paid. And there's good chances not sitting there on the internet. So a lot of writers when they get signed, you know, I've worked with the writer just recently coached writers, through a TV pilot, it didn't sell. But it got her all these meetings, and she's got a $400,000 overall deal on the studio. But you're not going to find that script online. So agents will bring in the scripts, they sign people off. And then I just have everybody go through the scripts, and you can take any of the paradigms that you want. And just how many of those scripts or whatever? And the answer is usually none, or you know, one or two, but very rarely. That's where I start my classes, because it isn't about, well, Cory says this thing, and this teacher says that thing and if he just said, No, it's just about what the reality is. in the marketplace. I think a big reason that people follow the paradigm is a, it's easier to really understand organic story structure and stories of that it takes, it takes training and skill set, that's a whole nother like a lot of people, they what they want to do is plot people don't understand that interested in plotting in the story. So a plot is this happens. And then this happened. And then this happened. And then this happened. And you're trying to make those things interesting, or funny, or, or scary or, or thrilling, you know, whatever kind of script you're trying to write, and you're very focused on, this happens, and this happens, and this happens, ooh. And then this happens. And this happens. That's the plot. Story is a whole different stuff that makes it interesting. story makes it meaningful, and impactful and memorable. A whole different way of thinking about it. And it's the integration of story and thought. And there's just a lot of training and skill sets that go into it can be taught, it can be learned, this is the kind of work that the top managers do with their right this is, here's a quick little commercial bug, it's what I do in the workshop. And so a lot of people don't have that training, then their only options is follow paradigm or just follow their instincts to sort of follow their impulses instinct, or all the character around. But here's the thing, if you follow your characters around, they'll do a lot of interesting things, it's just not going to turn into a really compelling story check currently. And if you follow your instincts and impulses, you can write a really interesting first draft, but there aren't many people in the world who didn't think that impulses consistently drive to a successful story, there's a lot that goes into Pitch Perfect, authentic. So you know, I think for a lot of people, their choices are, follow a paradigm, or kind of make this stuff up and follow my instincts. And that second options generally does not lead to. So that's why they they all the paradigms will fall apart. And so that has been lied to, you know, they've been told this is what readers look for. You won't be considered by an agent if you don't do this, and it's the opposite. In my current class, I've got like four different readers. And they each one, and I didn't say anything, each one on their own, that for the class, we've been told to throw away the scripts of all these paradigms, because nobody's interested in those kinds of scripts as a writer, especially on the TV. So it takes you know, I do an entire eight week workshop in Saudi society. So it's just not feasible for me to answer that question in the short space, but for the listeners, you know, what I would say is a don't take my word for you don't know me. I'm pretty nice guy, but maybe a yogi. And but don't take your other. Don't take any other guests on this podcast word for it. That's my opinion. Don't take your teachers word for it. Don't take some famous gurus, anyone, word for to get your hands on scripts that have launched careers, that's not that hard to do. If you've networked around, you can reach out to writers and say we're gonna be possible to do a script that launched your career. It's not that hard to get work, you know, agents or managers or you know, someone that works for an agent or manager. It's just not that hard in the electronic PDF roll to get your hands on.
Jason Buff 1:09:34
But that's going to be how far is that going to be from the ones that are like the published ones that you see it like,
Corey Mandell 1:09:40
That is different often. We're looking for the script that launch somebody's career we're looking for that you're an unknown writer, you wrote a script and a manager, you know, read the script and said, I'm gonna work with you or adapt the script that WMV or CA signed you off up
Alex Ferrari 1:10:00
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Corey Mandell 1:10:10
Or so for instance, in my case, you could find Metropolis online. Write the script that launched my career you cannot find online. So the script that got me into a room, or really Scott, the hiring the right way to talk to Ken, that script, you're not gonna find out No, but you know, metropolis is a script that you could find out like, but you really want to go back with script. Anyway, my point is, you look at those scripts, and then take any of the paradigms that you want and ask yourself, now it's different with like, if you start looking at lower budget, genre film, yeah, you know, you are going to see a lot of paradigms, it says, it's a different game, it's a different arena. Although that said, you know, if somebody wants to write a thriller script, like you, I suggest trying to write an elevator rule of stuff that isn't just, you know, paint by the numbers, you know, for instance, plans to land now, doesn't really count because it's adapted from the novel, but let's just say it was adapted from a novel, like, that's a really thrilling script, but it has elevated characters on it. So if you write a script like that, you have a shot. In the majors, you have a shot to launch a career, and if it doesn't happen, you can always go down and well, I guess I'm gonna have it's kind of a it's expensive to make a budget, but, you know, a script like, Ex Machina, you know, very contained one location, what, two, three characters back, that's the kind of stress, it's an elevated stress, you know, like, that's a great stress, and it's not as painful. It's just what you're looking for is, first of all, we're looking for characters that are authentic and compelling. And whenever you have characters that have to do certain things on certain pages, certain events have to happen, then they're not going to feel authentic. Secondly, you know, I used to be a studio reader. And it's like, you meet me at a strip, and it's like, okay, here comes the big surprise. And it's so not surprising, okay, here comes a big, you know, insight into if you see it coming my way, and then you know, right is only working on one scrap, they don't understand the pile of scripts that are moving through readers lives. And so when you just read this, the scripts that are structured pretty much the same way, they all just get forgettable. They all feel generic. And then along comes scripts, I was on a screenwriting panel a little while ago, and the person was on the writers like I'm writing an alarm. And this expert said, Stop stop right now. Because no one's gonna buy a Nordstrom no agents. But here's the thing that that person luckily didn't listen to that person. They broke up skirt, and they just got firing by a team of agents at CAA. I have no idea if that's more scripted itself, probably not. But if that CAA, they're not read by CAA, and they're taking lots of meetings, because here's the thing, I'm a reader, and I'm going through a pile of scripts, and suddenly, there's this large script. Now that has the inciting incident on page 10, it doesn't have that not only the Abyss on a certain page, but this kind of a bit or the fall off low beat on the midpoint, whatever it doesn't, it's not constructed that way. It's not different for the sake of being different. It's different, because it's an authentic story that's unfolding at own pace. And it has a reason for the way it's structured. And I just never seen a script like this. It's like, the next week, I'm driving, oh, I'm thinking about that. I am thinking about everything else. So when my boss, or my friend who works at another production company says, you read anything good lately. That's the script I'm gonna talk about. That's the script that I remember. And that's the script that people start talking about. That's a script that can launch your career. So now, that said, I have a lot of clients who write those kinds of scripts, they don't sell, they take meetings, nothing happens or another script like that. Doesn't Sally take meeting? Maybe then the agent says, Okay, we really took a shot at really launching you big, you know, maybe this next script, we do want to bend it a little bit more towards convention. So take your unique voice that's not right at Foursquare straight down the middle, save the cat scarf, not do that, because that'll just be ignored. But let's case your sensibility and your abilities and let's see if we can bend a little bit towards something a little bit more conventional and see what happens. But that's that's the plan B It's not the plan a write Plan A is write something that blows people away that nobody's seen before that people go, Oh my God, even if I can't buy this script, I want to make this right. I want to work with this writer, I love this writing, I would love to work with this virus, that's your job, get a bunch of relationships, get a bunch of people excited about you. Maybe that turns into a job, maybe it doesn't. But if it doesn't give all these fans who want to work with you, you're right. Another script, a whole nother shot at something happening. Somewhere down the road. Yeah. And I seen this with some of my clients or students, then they'll have that conversation with their agent or manager. And maybe then they will say, all right. Why don't we write to this target that's a little bit more of a commercial target. So we can just get you some money and at least start to get your track record. But while you're doing that, keep writing your original stuff on the side, because when one of those things break, that's how you become an aimless writer, you know, so you think about Aaron Sorkin. You think about Alan Ball, you think about Davis, I like like the script that makes them or Eric Singer, you know, and you look at a script like American Hustle. It's not all in the paradigm. It's not conventionally structured script. It's a uniquely structured script, with unique characters. And now even the illustrator, you know, the guys who wrote the neck, they, they had a really nice career, they're doing comedy, you know, they're all competing for jobs or landing jobs, making good money, they write the script, the NIC pitch, perfect, authentic, you know, if not following the paradigms not following the formula. It's original, it's unique. And now, after the first year, the neck, you know, studio has, they're taking them out to dinner, stars are taking them out, basically, a set of them chasing jobs, or jobs, or chasing them. And that's what happens when you write one of these scripts. And it hit and you have to be lucky for it to hit. But even if it doesn't have it gets you in a room with a really Scott the pitch down. So that's why he did some errors are looking for those. So all I know is that I'm getting more and more people in the industry sending me writers to work with me. Because people will say these writers have a great sense of dialogue. You can really write action that can really be calm, they can really do this, they can really do that. But they don't know. They're just formulized that I get a lot of MFA students who've been taught that cert traditional film school, which really made sense in the 80s made a lot of sense. And then it kind of stopped making sense, seven years ago, and now is the kiss of death.
Jason Buff 1:17:57
Now, what was the difference with your students? Can you tell the ones who are going to have success and the ones are going to probably drop off?
Corey Mandell 1:18:06
No, and I've really tried to stay blind to that. I really think it's important that when I work with everybody, they get the exact same focus and exact same enthusiasm. The other thing though, is I have worked with people who I privately thought were some of the worst writers I've ever liked, just like privately was like, I just don't see their mountain is so high to climb. their weaknesses and blind spots are so abundant. And I've seen them become amazing writers. And, and go on. And I'm not gonna name names, obviously, but have really good careers. Certainly, it's not true of all of them. But it's happened enough that it's gotten me to realize my assessment doesn't. It doesn't matter where you start. It matters where you end. And it matters, how committed you are, how growth mindset you are, how willing you are to put in the work, put in the right amount of work, or the kind of work because that's where dedicated practice comes in. So a lot of people buy into this idea that if you want to be really good, just keep writing and the more you write, the better you'll get. Not true. For most people, the more they write, they certainly start learning from mistakes, they certainly do get somewhat better. But there's core weaknesses and blind spots. They don't know. There's there's just consistent mistakes they make. So the more they write, they just ended up with that larger pile of similarly plot scripts. They have a feeling that can't get
Alex Ferrari 1:19:53
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Corey Mandell 1:20:02
A lot of my students come from that space. And so what they get excited about is, are there actual exercises that can teach skills that can teach tools that can make them actually significantly get better? If you want, because we've been talking that sort of abstractly, and I have to go in a little bit, and it's been a while, but I'll give, if we have time, I can give one example of one of these skill sets. So at least this is all in the abstract.
Jason Buff 1:20:36
Okay, yeah, I mean, that would be good?
Corey Mandell 1:20:39
Okay. So one of the skill sets is what I would call creative integration. And it basically goes down like that. Most writers, when you write, you can work from a conceptual place or an intuitive place. And these are very different muscles, and very different approaches. And most writers are wired to work when they're the other. So conceptual writers and intuitive writers that say, so conceptual writers tend to write outside in. And intuitive writers tend to work inside out. Conceptual writers tend to when they're working, they're very focused on what other people will be thinking. They're very focused on plotting. They're very focused on logic, making sure things make sense things are properly set up pacing, having interesting things happening. Intuitive writers have a very different navigation, they are working from an authentic place. They're working from a place of what's interesting to them. What's true to the character, what would the character really do? It's a very different space. A conceptual writer tends to be somebody who would say, I've got to figure out my story. Before I write it. Were in a tuner writer would say, and you know, write my story, so that I can figure it out very different. And so their scripts get, there's a different experience reading the script. So for instance, let's talk about characters. Conceptual writers, invent their characters, they design their characters. And so the characters never feel real. They feel invented, they, on some level, feel a little bit like puppet, who have been created at least times to serve the plot. And these writers often have great ideas, they concepts, good plotting. But where they're falling short in the marketplace, is the characters aren't strong enough. Intuitive writers, it's a very different experience. Intuitive writers don't invent the characters. They don't design the characters. They discover their characters. And the characters are like real people to them, and real people. And they speak like real characters, or real people. And you can feel that they're like real characters. But the intuitive mind is so focused on what is authentic, what the characters really do. These writers can't construct strong stories. So they have great characters. Always in search of a strong story. We're conceptual actors have all the story worked out. But they don't have strong characters. And it gets worse. With conception. Most conceptual writers when you read their work, there's all this interesting thing happening. All these interesting events are happening, it's just not interesting. Because you don't feel anything when you read it. Because they didn't feel anything when they revenue, a different space that they're working in. And so you've got these writers who get half of the equation, but not the other half. And here's the problem. Everybody always writes in a way to try to get the best possible script. You know, if you've been hired by someone in a studio or network, you obviously want to write the best possible script. And it's obvious. If you have an agent or manager, you want them to love your script, and champion it and take it out and change your life with it. If you don't have an agent or manager, you want to write a really great Express. So you can get an agent or a manager. Or if you're really kind of new in the game, and you're like I'm not ready for an agent or manager, you're probably trying to write the best possible scripts, so that you can feel that you're not wasting your time. And that people you show your script to, yeah, maybe you know, there's going to be issues with it. But at least the kind of feedback you get, leads you to believe you might have a shot. And this isn't just a stupid dream that you're chasing. So we're going to always try to write the best scripts that we can write. And so what we do knowingly, or unknowingly, is we played our strengths and hide our weaknesses, which is what we shouldn't do. You know, if I'm trying to write my best possible trip, I should play to my strengths and heighten it. In this as well, over time, my strengths get stronger and stronger, and my weak muscles get weaker and weaker. It's a big reason why writers can't get there, they can't get to that level they need to get to. So one of the skill sets I teach in my workshops is you're going to write to your weakness and hydroshare. So if you're a conceptual writer, you're going to work from a very intuitive play. So you can develop and strengthen that intuitive side. And so your intuitive side is the strongest your conceptual viceversa if you're an intuitive writer, network, any conceptual side. And so the first step is identifying your weak side, and developing that, focusing on that until it becomes as strong as your strong side. And then the second step is the actual creative integration, which is learning how to integrate these two sides, so that you can now write great characters and great story. Because Pitch Perfect, authentic, authentic means you have to be a rock star on the intuitive skill set as an intuitive writer. And Pitch Perfect means you have to be a rock star on the conceptual side. And most people are not integrated. And their writing practice leads to disintegration. So you know, you talk to conceptual writers and you ask what what are you working on? It's always conceptual writers hanging out in the same space, you know, they do horror film type concepts, horror film that you thrillers, sci fi, Big Idea comedies, action, they plot driven, concept driven material, because they can kind of hide the fact they're not that great of characters and dialogue, to the writers are writing, small, quirky character, emotional type material, where it's all about the characters and the dialogue, and the emotion kind of hiding the fact that they're not really that good at story structure. Well, the thing is, there's a lot of people out there who can write really good emotion, character stuff, they can't do story structure. And nobody really cares. For the most part about those writers, we're looking for writers that can do both. One of my students as directing a film that's coming out in two weeks, or directing the film for Paramount comedies testing, called drunk reading, it's been really hot. And so there's a buzz about this guy. And, you know, he was complaining to me, because he's reading all the scripts looking for his next project. And there's all these scripts that are really funny, great jokes, great structure, great idea. But characters, they just feel like stock characters, and there's no heart to it. And I'm just not going to put my career vague enough to one of these scripts, because, and then I read scripts that like, they're great characters. And there's a sense of like heart to it. But it's just there's no story, there's no state structures all over the place. Because it's so hard to find someone that can do both. And then his complaint years all the time, because I finally find one of those scripts. And of course, it's spoken for, you know, and, and, you know, it's been bought by the major player, you know, some of the big players, they're buying up all this script, because, you know, they want to make it or they want to keep up and coming competition from be able to make those scripts. So you know, if someone's listening to this, and they're so great with character, and emotion, and dialogue, if they can get better at structure and actually tell interesting stories like American duty, you know, have both there's rarefied company and they will be sought after. Vice versa. If you have someone listen to this, they're really good at and they love horror film as high concept horror film or thrillers, low budget or studio level, Comedy Action, what have you, you can get better at the character fire and the end have some genuine emotion in their man who stands out, you stand out, because there's just so few people that can do both. So that's an example one of the things that we've worked on in the workshop and it's called Creative integration. Now, for those of you listening, if you're interested in this, go to my website is Cory Mandel dotnet. I teach something called Professional Screenwriting workshop, which is the foundational workshop. And it teaches conceptual and intuitive skill sets to eight weeks. And Sargeras in commercial, but I'll be quick with it. We do. We do it in the LA in Santa Monica. And if you don't live in LA, or you do live in LA, we do it online using web app. So if you take another online classes, this is like real time so it's like going to a brick and mortar class. You can see in here everybody just get to be at your computer. And Ken we've had writers taken from all over the world.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:54
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Corey Mandell 1:30:04
The the June ones are sold out and kind of about six months out. So we're doing them in September, and those are starting to sell out. But there's still spaces. If you really want to do the June one, you can email my sister. And she put me on the waitlist and sometimes a spot does open. So my websites Cory mandel.net. And my system is Lisa. So she's Lisa at Cory Mandel, dotnet. Or if you want to email me, Cory, Cory Mandel, dotnet. And those emails are on the left side, which is calling dell.net. Their thing I'd suggest is sign up for the newsletter, we will often we do like once a month interview, an agent or interview manager will interview later to solve this threat. So that might be of interest. But and I know that we've been talking a long time, I think, let's see what their thoughts is from your listeners. Maybe people just think of a big blowhard. But if people are interested, people are interested in this stuff. And you want I'm happy to come back and talk about more of the skill sets, I think we talked a lot about sort of the marketplace or agents demand was or thinking and looking for and we talked a lot about mistakes people make and unless you have to accomplish, but we haven't really, I noticed is that your later questions were, but this whole sort of subject of okay, how do you actually do what I do? I can certainly talk more about that if you want to. If there is interest from your listeners, and you want to have me back, I'd be happy to do it.
Jason Buff 1:31:37
Yeah, that would definitely be great. I mean, there's even the stuff that you were just talking about that I would love to go further into detail with but yeah, we would need more time. So but yeah, I really appreciate it and we you know, let's definitely do like a part two sometime where we get more into actual screenwriting and structuring and all the you know, the nuts and bolts of it all love to do. Alright, man. Well, I appreciate it. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. And, you know.
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