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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy this conversation with Jamie Nash.

 

 

Right-click here to download the MP3

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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
Wow.

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

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

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

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

Jamie Nash 15:38
I've done it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Nash 25:05
Walking Dead fan omiya thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 27:55
Yes. Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 29:53
about breaking bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 34:08
like I understand I just

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:08:07
Hey,

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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BPS 014: Save the Cat – Screenwriting Story Structure Made Easy

Why would you want to ‘Save the Cat’? If you are a screenwriter or aspiring one you should have heard by now of Blake Snyder’s game-changing screenwriting book.

In his 20-year career as a film producer and screenwriter, Blake Snyder sold dozens of scripts, including co-writing Blank Check, which became a hit for Disney, and Nuclear Family for Steven Spielberg — both million-dollar sales. Named “one of Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriters,” Blake sold his last screenplay in 2009.

His book, Save the Cat!® The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need was published in May 2005, and is now in its 24th printing. When I read this book it really had an impact on my storytelling and screenwriting.

Thankful Blake was not done and apparently it was not the last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need, as the eagerly awaited sequel, Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter’s Guide to Every Story Ever Told, was published in October 2007 — shooting to #1 in the Screenwriting and Screenplay categories on Amazon.com. Blake’s third book, Save the Cat!® Strikes Back: More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get Into… And Out Of was published in November 2009.

Blake’s method has become the “secret weapon” of many development executives, managers, and producers for its precise, easy, and honest appraisal of what it takes to write and develop stories that resonate. Save the Cat!® The Last Story Structure Software You’ll Ever Need has codified this method. Blake passed unexpectedly in 2009 but the Save the Cat community carries on Blake’s work.

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Blake’s main pupils Jose Silerio. Jose is carrying the torch of Blake’s work and travels around the world well…saving the cat.

Enjoy my informative interview with Jose Silerio.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
So without further ado, enjoy my conversation with Jose Silerio.

Jose Silerio 2:27
Hey, thank you very much for having us. Alex it's I mean we're we're happy from SEMA from save the cat to be part of this and you know, just to help out screenwriters as much as possible.

Alex Ferrari 2:36
Yeah, I'm, I'm a huge, huge fan of Blake Schneider's work and save the cat. I read all three books. And they're they're amazing. And they've kind of changed the business a lot ever since they were released. So can you tell me a little bit about Blake and save the cat? For people who don't know?

Jose Silerio 2:54
Yeah, yeah, definitely. You know, as you said, In the Save the cat three sort of became big in the industry. And that's not you know, it's not just simply us tooting our own horn. But it's really from our own experience. Even when Blake was still around. We saw how his his method, his books really became popular. And Blakely, you know, he's a screenwriter yet, just like most of us, right. He started screenwriting way back in the 80s, he was even started working for his dad, in his in his dad's animation series, doing the voices for the kid in the in the show and all that. And he got into screenwriting way back in the 80s. And he's he sold, you know, several scripts throughout his career until like getting 12 or 13, all together and engineered a couple other made, which is blank check. And stop or your mom or Mom Will Shoot which are kind of the more famous ones he did that came out. But I think from Blake really what he did with Save the cat and how it kind of how it evolved for him was that, you know, just like everybody else in the industry, especially for writers that there are those ups and down moments. And as a writer, you're always, you know, struggling to sort of break in, even though and I said that even though you're in already, you kind of have to keep proving yourself over and over. It's

Alex Ferrari 4:17
what have you done? It's like Janet Jackson says, What have you done for me lately?

Jose Silerio 4:22
And I think that kind of came from him. And it's like, knowing that that struggled to who went through, you wanted to make sure that other writers following him sort of had it a little bit easier if I can put it that way. And And He found you know, he had his own method of developing structure. And which is it's funny because he had this little story. And again, if you remember if it's in the book, where in his introduction to structure was that he you know, this was like early late 90s or late 80s system where he was he went to one of these development meetings. He submitted a script, you know, the producer was there and they decided talking about the script and the Producer goes to him. So what's your, you know, break after break? And he's just Oh, um, you know, he says kind of just kind of nodding his head, and kind of just talking what the story more than after the meeting ended, you know, when all other producers moved out, you know that the one producer who was really only with him, pulled him aside and said, You don't know what the act to break is, right? Yeah, I have no idea what it was. Right sort of became his introduction into creating structure, and him realizing that, you know, in order to tell a good story, regardless of the story, we need structure. And again, so he's developed his own system, which eventually began to save the cat method. And again, because it's from his own experience of wanting to help other writers later down the road, you know, he just simply wanted to share it, because it started working for him. And in like you said, you know, once he published the road saved the cat, the first book was published, and people really gravitated toward it, and it just exploded.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
Now, what did you know, what were save the cat came from the name, but the

Jose Silerio 6:03
name save the cat itself is a term that he uses, you know, and it's, it's, it's a simple way for your audience to like your main hero, you know, perfect. It's the same the gods literally comes from the term, you know, saving a cat, you know, what it is, it's, it's you just put you give your, your, your hero an action to do early on in the, in the, in the movie in the script, you know, that makes us say, Oh, that's a nice guy. You know, I like this person, you know, which will make me want to follow this person's journey for the rest of the movie, which would be

Alex Ferrari 6:35
the opposite of that would be kick the dog, which would be my book, kick the dog, how to be an evil person.

Jose Silerio 6:43
It's a great way to introduce a villain, right? You

Alex Ferrari 6:46
kill anybody who kicks a dog, like that guy's bad. So it's a perfect example. Yeah. So that's where it comes from. Okay, great. So how did you get involved with Save the cat?

Jose Silerio 6:55
You know, it's funny, I got involved with Save the cat exactly the same way. Like everybody discovers save the cat, which is I read the book. I didn't know Blake, you know, before the book came out. But when I read the book, you know, and I tell this to all people, all writers I work with I'm a very lazy reader. I'm sorry to say the book you know, even was as thick as save the cat, man. It's not really that thick. No, it's not. It's not it's not a hard read. Yeah, it will usually a book that thick will even take me something like a year to read.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
You're really lazy, you're really lazy, right read.

Jose Silerio 7:28
Save the cat, a Kenyatta. If I sat down open page one, and couldn't put it down it just like you said it was a very easily but more than being an E serene. I think it just it says, you know, you get it right away, you get a big is talking about it, what the thing, that nice thing about ingredients was sort of, for me, this is my reaction. It was very encouraging. It was really telling me that, you know, this is something that I can do and a lot of the things that I found myself like, oh, no, as a screenwriter, like, I'm getting stuck here, you know, he was kind of explaining it and telling me, you know, this is all you have to do. And that's how I got into save the guy to read the book. You know, he had his email address there, which everybody knows have read the book. I wrote him, Can I just ask him about other stuff and all that. And then one day, he can tell immediately, not one day, but immediately, he then asked me saying, hey, I need to help you with a script that I need to read, then if you can give me notes. You know, maybe we can build something together. And luckily, you know, you were at the right place at the right time. Exactly. You know, the stars aligned for me, kinda, you know. So that's how I got into Santa God. And it was like, way back in 2006 2007.

Alex Ferrari 8:34
Can't believe that's way back. Yeah.

Jose Silerio 8:38
10 years now.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
Wow. So can you explain to everybody what a beat sheet is? Because I remember the first time I was in an executive meeting, and someone goes, so where's your beat sheet? And I'm like, so you see, the character does this. This is very similar to what Blake did. I'm like, I just tried to keep going with it. But then afterwards, I found out what a beat sheet was. So can you explain to everybody what a beat sheet is?

Jose Silerio 9:00
Well, a BJ, especially, you know, we'd save the content, a lot of, you know, a lot of other I guess, teachers, producers, so ever everybody has their own kind of definition for the beat sheet is, I guess I'm kind of gonna go with the save the cat definition is really as Blackboard you know, the beat sheet really has an M for us, we have what we call the 15 beats, the 15 key beats. And this, what it does is the 15 beats of the beat sheet the same that the Blake Snyder beat sheet, it just really pinpoints the 15 key beats that your hero must go through in order to tell a good story. These are moments that must be happening to your hero, right and your hero must be doing as well, in order for us to be able to follow that structure that story in a way that's very familiar for the audience. And again, when I say familiar, I'm not saying you know, you're just merely copying from other movies, other scripts or other books that you use read before but, you know, story structure is something that's been ingrained in all of us. Ever since, you know, from nursery rhymes telling jokes, there's always a structure. And and that beats, you know, those 15 beats is something that Blake sort of naturally develop. But he even says this isn't all discovered, but even not discovered, but he just kind of made it clear for everybody. Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. And he said, and he, having studied all this film, so they felt like, you know, what really successful feeling to the video, like he said, You know, I just he discovered that there were just 15 beats that were always present. And that's what you know, I guess a beat ship is, you know, you have this, this 15 beats that go from in save the cat, terminologies go from opening image, all the way down to 50. The final image that, like I said earlier to me that your hero must go through. So in short, I guess it's really like an outline, or, but really, it's a good way to really help you, as a writer, figure out what's happening, and more importantly, when it should be happening to your hero.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
Right? It's kind of well, what I've taken from structure is because when I write I, my structures, pretty sound because I like structure. I like having that those tent poles to be able to, like write to. So it's like, Okay, from here to this point to this point, this has to happen. So how I get to point A to point B is up to me as the writer, but I have a place to go without that structure. You're just kind of like rendering all over the place.

Jose Silerio 11:34
Exactly. I think it's what you said. You know, the nice term to use was tentpole, which is exactly you know, what Blake also mentioned that, I think a lot of times, and I say this all the time, like when I went to film school way back when, you know, the writing screenwriting classes, one, the one thing that really always got us, okay, there's Act One, act two, and you write and they're like, Oh, that's very vague. You fill it in. And that's what you know, the the Save the cat beat sheet of Blake does is that at least in Act One, you know what should be happening? Act One, because right there, you know, which bits must be happening within the pack. And where again, it's happening. Then same thing when you go to act two, and act three.

Alex Ferrari 12:14
Yeah, it's, it's pretty amazing. There's a series on YouTube that has a, they take the Save the cat method, and they beat it out with movies. It's wonderful to watch because you're like, Back to the Future at, you know, Terminator Titanic, and you just start watching them, and they literally are beating it out. So they're like, here's this piece. This is when this happens in the movie. This is when this happens in the movie, and you just sit there and you use examples of it. Can you give us a few examples of films that you've saved the cat very, very well? Ah, oh,

Jose Silerio 12:42
he seven hours,

Alex Ferrari 12:43
the hours of them. I know. But just a couple of the big ones. Yeah. Even that

Jose Silerio 12:47
big one got like, you know, some of the Oscar winners, I think speech. Argo mean, very clear and strong beats. And Oscar nominated on which I really liked from two years ago was whiplash. Yeah, again, briefly. Again, all the beats, were there. But the nice thing about you know, the smoothies where you can see is that, you know, you can go there, and I'm probably biased already, by this time at this point, right? For 10 years. I'm watching there and, but still, right, I try to avoid saying, Oh, there's the catalyst. Oh, there's the midpoint.

Alex Ferrari 13:20
It's rough. You know, it's, it's it. Look, I'll tell you, I've been in visual effects and post production for a long time. And, you know, it's tough for me to go to a movie sometimes. It's tough for me to kind of just let go. And I just recently let go when I saw Star Wars. So I completely was not looking at anything technical. I was just on the ride and it's for film to do that too. You know, for people like us that are really into it. It's at that that's a really good sign of the filmmaker who has been able to cut through all of our all of our armor, if you will, of biases like oh, that green screen didn't really look that great. Oh, oh, that story point. That's the catalyst Oh, that's the turning point. And I catch myself doing that all the time now with with lesser movies, but

Jose Silerio 14:04
like you said, you know, the well made ones really are those where you forget it's there, but you don't see it.

Alex Ferrari 14:10
Exactly. Or you look back and you go back to it later and watch it a second time and then you'll analyze it maybe the second or third screening of it but the first time you just enjoy it and you know it's coming but you just kind of you're in the story as you should be.

Jose Silerio 14:23
Exactly exactly and you know those are you know that they did their job well you know, and like you said you know when we go back then we start realizing oh that's why you know we like this part because your case it was building up to the midpoint is going down to the old slots then and all that

Alex Ferrari 14:38
now did you have you seen the new Star Wars

Jose Silerio 14:41
I have and how is it how's

Alex Ferrari 14:43
it How's it hanging in the in the saving the cat

Jose Silerio 14:46
paradise thanks very well in terms of the beat sheet itself of having the beats there. You know, the way they introduce the characters of the setup, you know, the setup,

Alex Ferrari 14:55
no spoilers, no spoilers.

Jose Silerio 14:57
Yeah. Be very careful. You know, even you know, the big moment, the big oil this last moment, I think, you know, even I'm not gonna say it out loud. I think I know you what? You know what I'm talking course? Of course, of course. Right. So, you know, even though we don't specifics, we know that that beat was there. Again, clear third act right, you know what the third act is? And if the beats are still there, so yeah, I think I would love to say that, you know, yeah, of course, JJ Abrams, wrote there and read save the cat before. Before I think it, but you know, I think great filmmakers, great writers, they just know, you know,

Alex Ferrari 15:35
well, the thing is, if you look at all the big movies, the most successful movies, whether they be blockbusters, or Oscar winners, generally, they all follow the beat, they all follow the structure, whether whether, and I think what Blake did so well with Save the cat is that screenwriting is a complex scenario, it's not an easy way to write, it's much easier to write, in many ways a novel because you can Miranda and you can kind of just delve into the deepness of the how the the tree looks today. And you can't do that in the screenplay, it has to be very condensed has to be very concise, every word is has to have a meaning and move the story forward. And I think what Blake did so brilliantly is that he brought it down to the masses, where a lot of that kind of terminology was more upper tier, if you will, like at the you know, at a at a film school or at the higher end like the UCLA, you know, screenwriting programmer, these kind of really epic, big huge institutions that were kind of like guarding the information and Blake kind of took that information and said, Now you all may have it. And now here, here now go and writes B, B. Well,

Jose Silerio 16:46
I completely agree with you on that and there's definitely you know, if you can go the the Joseph Campbell route, of course, we just very again, there's nothing wrong, but it's a great system as well. But like you said, you know, when Blake would save the cat kind of brought it down to the masses, those who weren't kind of more into mythological stuff but just wanted to set up just go straight into well,

Alex Ferrari 17:05
I mean, the right yeah, what what the writers journey was or what the hero's journey is, it works well obviously with Save the cat it's it's it's there. But it's, it's different. It's a little bit, not as simple like save the cat is as simple as you can get. Like, if you're a screenwriter, starting out, read, save the cat, then go off and read everything else. But save the cat is a great base to start from because and that's again, one of the reasons I wanted you guys on the show because the book was so influential. And then you can go off and read a million 1000 books. There's a nice

Jose Silerio 17:41
thing a bucket, they'll say it's up in the Blake really started in roadsafe. The gap is for writers really more than anybody for writers to help them move forward with their own writing. And they feel like they're stuck in kind of go. But it's also a great way to analyze movies. Oh, God and figure out you know why they're working. That's

Alex Ferrari 18:00
why he wrote that second book with the the exact the cat goes to the movies. Right? Exactly. Which was great. It was a wonderful example to kind of go and he's just starts breaking down the movies. And you're just like, Oh, my God, I remember the first time i i discovered the first book I ever read was Sid fields. That was when I was in. Now I'm going way back. This is like the 90s. So and when I discovered that there was a a structure, because he was the first one I ever heard any kind of structure. Yeah. And I was like, wait a minute, at 15 minutes, this happens. And I can't stand that I just started going back to all my movies. I'm like, Oh, my God is. And I thought I've cracked the code. It's like it was like, it was so revolutionary to me. For someone who doesn't understand it doesn't know about it. It's so great. But again, let's say the cat does so well is it simplifies it so beautifully. And it's I don't want to say it's like, right by numbers, because there's a lot of creativity involved. But it gives you those 10 poles that you can just make it's a lot easier. You don't have to think about structure. You can you could just decorate the house, you don't have to worry about the foundation.

Jose Silerio 19:00
Exactly. I think that's the best way to put it. Because there is always an A always talk about it. Because there is, you know, there are always those detractors who can say disappointed by numbers thing. And I think when people say that they're not getting the whole picture, because we're just talking about structure. You know, your your character traits,

Alex Ferrari 19:20
they're not a log everything. Exactly. It's

Jose Silerio 19:23
on the writer. Right. And that's for you to make your characters unique. And once you add that, then it becomes a totally different story. What do you have the structure there already?

Alex Ferrari 19:32
Yeah, absolutely. It's like I said before, it's like literally, you could you could have a house with a complete foundation and structure done. Now how that's decorated. It could be accurate in a million different ways. It's all depending on how the writer wants to, to go forward. So can a lot of screenwriters to always hear about coverage like oh, well can I get coverage and I got bad coverage. I got good coverage and your script needs coverage from a studio or production company. Can you explain a little bit about coverage to the Those who don't know the audience? Well,

Jose Silerio 20:01
I think like you said, you know, coverage really is more of like, you know, you have the reader, obviously, you have the higher ups who can't read all the scripts that go to their studios. So they need the Cliff Notes version scripts that come in. And I think that's that, for me, that's kind of what coverage is, you have the readers who read it. And they put their notes down on the script that they read, kind of going through structure, characters, dialogue, you know, giving it it's sort of class and you know, different students have different styles, different methods, but it kind of they have kind of point system, and they point degrade degraded accordingly. And that's, you know, I think that's the simple way of just describing what coverage is that now that piece of paper and hopefully, for most, it's a one pager, right? That goes now to the next junior executive.

Alex Ferrari 20:53
If it passes, if it passes, because they might, they might have

Jose Silerio 20:56
exactly right, it passes and goes to them, they read the script, and they they do their own version of the next higher up coverage, it goes to the next higher up guy. So that's, you know, I think that's a simple like I said, a simple version of explaining of coverage is it's really a cover letter, you know, for for for the script. Can you just telling us what the script is? You're telling the executive what what the script is all about? And what, what, in what and how it meets certain criteria for

Alex Ferrari 21:22
them. Now, the thing is that as a as a screenwriter, and I've gone through the coverage process and the studio system, it's very frustrating, because sometimes you might not get the reader that you that's really gets it. And a lot of people have passed on Oscar winners, you know, in coverage, and it happens. And that's very frustrating a lot of times because you like oh my god, I like I forgot there's some legendary ones. I just don't remember any of them off the top of my head, but that guy passes at certain studios. Well, Star Wars was passed everywhere. I mean, just the original Star Wars was like, what?

Jose Silerio 21:56
Yeah, you know, that's very true. Bigger producers gonna like I don't think you know, they don't get him get it.

Alex Ferrari 22:02
They don't they don't get it. So in the script was like, Oh, what's this? What's this? This giant monkey who's walking around with this guy? And he's his sister. What? No, forget there's incest involved. This is horrible. So yeah. So it has to do

Jose Silerio 22:18
like you said, you know, it there is it's certainly involved in it, that your script gets to the right person at the right time. Yeah. So that they, you know, they, that whoever the reader is that they're reading it in the right frame of mind in order to get it and be in, hopefully be objective enough. While while reading it.

Alex Ferrari 22:40
I think also, one thing that I've learned in my journeys and from talking to so many different screenwriters is and recover and producers and executives is that at a certain point, you have to even if they might pass on it, you have to write something so good. That even though you know, I don't get it, but man, this is really well written. There's a lot of that, like, this is not going to be made into a movie, but you're a good writer. And I think that's what writers should do, as best they can to try to make the best thing, as Steve Martin says, Be so good that they can't ignore you.

Jose Silerio 23:13
Yeah. And I completely agree with that. And, you know, this is what I always tell writers, especially those who say, Okay, what's the secret to sort of breaking in? And I think the release? Isn't the secret. The secret is he come up with a really great script.

Alex Ferrari 23:27
Script, oddly enough.

Jose Silerio 23:29
Yeah. And because it's, then I truly believe this, because I've heard it from a lot of executives from producers themselves. And they say, you know, the industry leader, yes. You know, they're one thing for the Great, the next great script, right? So the moment you have a great script that goes out, you know, it's going to, it's going to catch fire, it's going to spread on its own. It's because of you know, once somebody says, there's a great script out there, everybody starts looking for it. And I think that's really sort of the secret to, is to break in. But you have to do again, your homework, you have to show them like you were saying earlier, right? That as a writer, you have to show this people, the readers or producers, that they know how to write the story. He know what it takes to be able to be to be a good storyteller.

Alex Ferrari 24:13
Yeah, I know a lot of writers who put in a script, and they said, This is not going to work for us. But I want to hire you for another job because you can write Yeah, and that happens all the time. And I know a lot of screenwriters who make a living, never being produced. Yeah, they just keep optioning or they're working or their Script doctoring. And they've never had a single credit to their name, but they've made millions doing this behind the scenes. There's many guys who do this in Hollywood.

Jose Silerio 24:43
And they're even a lot of those who not just option out, you know, their scripts, even though the script doesn't get made. But they get hired to rewrite again, you know, other scripts again without being credited for it and you and that's, that's a great job to have

Alex Ferrari 24:58
it to certain I guess, I think You've made your first two or 3 million doing that at a certain point, you just want to go, you know, I wouldn't mind getting something made. Yeah, you know, but I wish I had these problems. I don't know about you, but I wish I had that, like, you know, I've already made my 3 million this year. So I really would, you know, they're not going to just play around, they may just play around, you know, let's just follow the passion project to finally finally make that passion project I've been watching about that one legged hooker. And in and in New York, the Puerto Rican hooker who really wants to dance, but she only has one leg. It's a Sundance winner. I can tell you. She has a heart of gold as Yeah, she has a heart. I tell you, every time I hear I always tell people that that story that like Echo, you want to get into Sundance, make a movie about a handicapped one legged Puerto Rican hooker with a heart of gold who really wants to dance but is beaten by her father, her drunken father, you know, who also happens to be a transgender. I'm just saying that alone would win Sundance every year guaranteed. And, but you have to follow the 15 beats. If not, it doesn't work.

Jose Silerio 26:10
Doesn't work at all.

Alex Ferrari 26:13
So um, a lot of also with screenwriters, a lot of emphasis is put on the logline. And I know you guys talk a lot about loglines. Can you give a little bit of advice on how to construct a really great logline and explain what a logline is to people who don't know?

Jose Silerio 26:27
Well, I think there's a lot going to be I'll be honest with you a lot better for me is always the trickiest thing to write rough. And I and I always tell this the writers I you know, Blake talks about it in the book and the same that got in his process was you know, write a logline. One of the first things we did was write the logline right before beating it out. And and that's great because it gives a good idea of what your story is. But that particular loved one that you write, the first logline you write is most probably also not going to be the same logline, the same story, you know, but eventually what the script will be right? Because it as you start to write in writing, things will start changing, you start discovering more about, you know, your characters and stories, it led to a change. So there is a logline that I think it's great to have early on to keep sort of on track as to what your story what you think your story is, or what you envision it to be. And but there is also the plug line at the very end that really captures the real story. And you have to know the difference, you know, as writers, but for meters of what what regardless of which particular logline you're writing on the early on, or the one that you really want to stand out already. The things that they look for are always going to be which you know, in a this is basic screenwriting one to one, but they call them the big three, which is you know, it has to be able to clearly convey historic belongs to which is the Hero number one, you know what the hero wants, meaning the goal, and what's stopping the hero from getting the one you know, what's the problem. So the hero the goal, and the problem for me are the big three. And I think that has to be very, very clear in a logline to make it really compelling. And this isn't, you know, if this is like a one or two out of three, you have to make sure it's a three out of three thing. If not you have no story. And if that's not there in the logline, then your logline won't tell the story. So it's very important to able to make sure that all the three elements have it in in in your logline that you have it in your logline. Another thing that I that I like which Blakely pointed out in the book is having a sense of irony in in the logline. And, you know in in that what that really means is that I think what you want to show is that why is this hero, right? The person to go on this journey? And so you'll want to be able to build up even in your logline. Right, that why this particular hero is going to be the hero. Why is he going why is this journey going to be the hardest thing that this hero is going to be? So it's really building that up? Because what you're telling us is that of all the people in the world, right? This is not the right person to do it. Right? This is not the right person to go on this journey. But that's what makes it compelling diehard Dyer exactly right? Yeah. If you end up always having you know, Mr. Universe, go up against you know, the big evil, you know, whoever it is, right but

Alex Ferrari 29:29
you know, that's good. That's commando that's coming

Jose Silerio 29:34
oh, Steven Seagal Oh, all right. He's gonna be at the end of the day

Alex Ferrari 29:38
right? I just there's no real there's never a chance like you know maybe Steven might not want no he's gonna let

Jose Silerio 29:45
me know then but that's that's in that works for who he is. Right? And the the characters that the theater plays. But again, for the rest of you who are not writing, you know, action type movies or commando type movies, right? You have to find a way to They'll ask you to make sure that just by reading the logline, a one sentence, you know, line that we understand we make you understand what the story is, but more importantly, that it's a very compelling story. And again, by doing that, it's again giving us a sense of irony in the sense that it's, you know, you're, you're introducing us to a character who is not supposed to be going on this journey.

Alex Ferrari 30:22
Right. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now, back to the show. And go ahead. Sorry, go ahead. No, no, the way you You brought up a really good point I wanted to kind of focus on real quick that the irony of a character that he's not supposed or he she's not supposed to be the one on the journey. Ripley from aliens comes to mind, you know, Sarah Connor, Senator Sarah Connor from Terminator. Diehard John McClane, the lethal weapon boys, like there's no reason for them to, you know, work. And they do. What Star Wars right? And Star Wars The young farm boy who's going up against the Empire?

Unknown Speaker 31:11
Sadly,

Alex Ferrari 31:12
that's that's

Jose Silerio 31:12
what speech robots? Yes. The Word became just starters. Right? Right.

Alex Ferrari 31:19
It's exactly like he has no right like, and that it's something as simple as that. Like, it's not a big huge act or thing. It's about a guy who stutters who cast the not stutter, and he has to inspire a nation. Like that's, that's a simple concept. It's not it's not brain surgery. But then I started when you brought that up, I started going I just went back through my mental Rolodex of movies. And I'm like, you know, a lot of those 80s action movies like commando like every John Claude Van Damme movie, like every Steven Seagal movie, and bad action movies, there isn't that bad action movie and don't get me I love all those movies. Because, you know, I was young when I saw them. And I love them. And there's character and charismatic things about Arnold and about, you know, Sylvester Stallone and all those things and those certain kind of movies. But the movies that really stand the test of time like you could I just watched diehard again, because it's my Christmas movie I always watched, because I don't care what anyone says. It's the best Christmas movie of all time. I don't I don't care what anyone says. Oh, yes. No, if you don't see Hans Gruber falling out of a falling out of a window at the end of the day, it's not really Christmas for me. So that's just me. Whoa, whoa, whoa. So um, but I just literally saw it like a few weeks ago. And I was like, I can't believe how wonderful and how brilliantly it's done. And it literally, that movie alone spawned hundreds of rip offs, like diehard in a boat, diehard on the train diehard on the plane, that all this kind of stuff. It was such a brilliant and Pinnacle movie, but it's that what you're talking about. It's the ironic, the irony of that character who has no business doing a predator is another one. Like, even though Arnold and this entire team are big muscle bound, yeah. But they're up against something that's they have no business they can't beat. And that's what makes a good, really, really good, compelling story. And I think that's where a lot of writers especially have bad action movies. We really could learn something from please, please.

Jose Silerio 33:19
Die Hard is a great example. Because, you know, in the 80s You know, we were used to seeing all the Schwarzenegger movie right. Then the RAMBo Stallone movies. They're all like this muscle bomb Lee, you know, and suddenly, the interview would get introduced to John McClane. It's not really that tone. You know, he's

Alex Ferrari 33:38
no, he's a normal dude. He's, he's

Jose Silerio 33:42
locked in. He's about to get a divorce. Right. Right. To survive to stay together.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
He's a New Yorker in LA, which Trust me, I understand.

Jose Silerio 33:51
I think you know, he's totally different guy who gets thrown into, you know, in a bigger than life scenario.

Alex Ferrari 34:02
Yeah, absolutely. And then the, the brilliance of, you know, the, the barefoot and the bleeding. And it's like, it's just so brilliantly crafted. I don't know, I forgot the name of the screenwriter of that one. But it's so brilliantly crafted, so brilliantly directed. And it holds, even though it's 80s. And you can, you know, it's so fun to watch because of, you know, all the ad stuff in it. But it's so Robocop another one of those, like, absolutely brilliant, like, there's no reason for that hero to be able to do what he does, and go through what he's going through. So that's great. I've never heard anyone say that. But the irony of the character or the hero is something that should be very important in your writing process. Yeah,

Jose Silerio 34:46
I think so. Because again, it's, there's not that sense of irony, meaning that you're here is not the right person, or shouldn't be the person to be going against this problem or having this goal, right. As a writer, you We'll find out easily that you'll end right you do stop writing by page 30. Because you're unable to generate more conflict for your hero, right? You lose sight of that sense of tension. Because your hero, you haven't as we like to sing, save the cat, you haven't taken your hero as far back as possible. Right? So if they're already a great superhero on the first app, right, then again, whatever you throw up in front of them, the second app is something that they can easily overcome. And once that happens, you know, your story ends at page 30.

Alex Ferrari 35:32
That's, I think one of the main problems with most Superman movies, or even telling a Superman story, it's so difficult to create conflict for a god. And it's an except for the very first one that Richard Donner did, and he did it. So magically, it's like every and we've all been everyone's been trying to get back to that. But it's tough to create conflict like the Batman. That's why Batman works better than Superman, because Batman is a dude who Yeah, he's a billionaire. He has stuff but he can get hurt, he can get you know, blood, he can get his back broken, he can do all this stuff.

Jose Silerio 36:05
And his backstory is so much more complex. Or find his parents were killed. He saw them get killed. You know,

Alex Ferrari 36:12
it's so much so much media.

Jose Silerio 36:15
Exactly. You know, it's not just a physical story but really more of the emotional story is what's what's really pulls us in.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
So I'm really curious to see how this Batman vs. Superman. Yeah, fiasco I think it's gonna be a fiasco. That's just me. But that's just my personal opinion. I looked at the trailer the other day, I'm now we're going off topic here. But I saw the trailer the other day, and I was just like, wow, I don't know. Know if this is gonna work. I hope it does. I'm a fan. But, uh, you know, but then I saw Captain, I saw that Captain America Civil War. I'm like, this is brilliant. You've got to like look at the conflict in that. It's like that. It's the ultimate conflict of friends that we've grown up with, or people have seen through these movies, and now they're fighting for ideologies. It's just like, brilliant. Brilliant. I'm sorry. I've gone off on a tangent on superhero movies. I apologize. So um, so what are some of the biggest mistakes you see with screen write screenplays when you read them from like, first time writers or just screenplays in general?

Jose Silerio 37:18
I think especially like especially you know, for us and I would say they got to get a lot of first time screenwriters. Even though when they say first time you know, it's those are within several months haven't really sold anything yet. And one thing I've noticed of play is that a lot of screenwriters tend to write off write a character that's based off another character that they saw in a movie

Alex Ferrari 37:44
really using Are you still seeing a lot of that

Jose Silerio 37:46
yeah it is and it's like you're talking about diehard right right oh god diehard in a plane or heard in a train or didn't know shit sudden

Alex Ferrari 37:56
Sudden Impact don't forget that one John cloud on top of diehard ice rink

Jose Silerio 38:00
so there's a lot that I think a lot of people kind of do that still you know I want to make the next taken I want to make no

Alex Ferrari 38:07
there's there was a after taking came out there I must have been 1000 taken scripts make made. Yeah,

Jose Silerio 38:14
right. Or after bridesmaids came up I want to make the next bridesmaid or hangover right after hangover came. I want to make the next hangover. So the writing, characters are writing stories based off other characters have been seen already or that they simply know from watching right from from the film, it's not characters that they really know, in real life. Right. And I think that that's one missed the one big mistake. Screenwriters new especially the newer ones do nowadays is that, you know, they start writing off, you know, characters that oh, this is what John McClane would do. But you're not writing John McClane anymore. And you have to find, you know, in your own writing, and we mentioned this earlier, um, coming up with your own voice, we know what makes you unique as a writer, you have to be able to find, you know, that the what makes your characters unique as well. And that's really, by, you know, writing, writing characters based off people, you know, in real life. You know, that crazy art that you have, you know, or, you know, absolutely, Buddy you had from high schools. Now, your mother is truly successful, but in a bad marriage. But there are a lot of things that you can pull out of real people who surround us, baby. Right. And I think, you know, that makes it more interesting because now we start seeing people who we know, you know, can be a little bit more complex, who may not necessarily go left when we think everybody's going left. You know, what, what makes them different. And I think that's something that newer writers need to learn more how to build better characters.

Alex Ferrari 39:52
I think also, what you're saying is advice for every aspect of filmmaking in the sense of it. Be yourself and stop trying to be someone else whether that be a writer whether that be a director like I'm going to be the next Quinn Tarantino. I'm like, No, you're not. You can't be because there's only one Quentin Tarantino there's only one Scorsese there's only one Shane Black. Yeah, no, there's don't I mean, I mean, how many people try to rip off Shane Black? After Lethal Weapon? And after? I mean, everyone tried to write like, Shane. Yeah, when he was making the, in the olden days, when everyone was making $2 million, a spec script, you know, sales that don't happen nowadays. But if you just true be true to them, because if you notice, all of those guys, all of those guys are original. They're all they're all being themselves. Yeah.

Jose Silerio 40:40
They were in their original voice came out, then 20 years ago. Right. And it worked for them. So now it's time for the newer writers who want to break into to find what is your original voice for today's time?

Alex Ferrari 40:54
Right, because things that worked 20 years ago will not work today. Yeah. And that's, that's a huge, and that's when screenwriting and filmmaking is a general statement. A lot of people keep going at it from that point of view of like, I'm going to do what Chamberlain like no, don't know, it's a different place different world today.

Jose Silerio 41:11
So I think, if I may, please have time. But another, I think, common mistake that writers have, your writers have an artist is just simply over writing. Especially when it comes to the description and the action part of any we're not, it may not necessarily be an action movie. But you know, when they start describing the action of going, that's going on, you know, they describe it to a, you know, to the most minute

Alex Ferrari 41:37
or they write it like a novelist like, or even

Jose Silerio 41:39
write even to describe a character, they over describe it, I think what this does is, especially for me is when I'm reading it, it takes away a sense of creativity on my end, because now you're making me think very specifically, of an action of a person. And that in a way kind of takes away from the rib. Because now my mind is again, and this is something readers, I mean, I'm sorry, writers have to realize is that your first audience is not the person who buys the movie ticket, your first audience is the reader, right? And you have to know that you know, they don't have the benefit of music, they don't have the benefit of actual faces of actors that they can follow. So reading a page is a little bit harder, they have to work a little bit harder in order to follow the story. So don't overdo it. Right. But provide by putting in too much detail by making it too, you know, too specific, that you know that your own that the reader themselves that aren't losing that, that ability to build the world on their own and get more into it. I think if as readers, if we're given that opportunity to build the world, a little bit on our own, as we're following reading the story, then it becomes more interesting, it becomes more exciting.

Alex Ferrari 42:55
You know, I was the other day, I was reading a script that was sent to me by a professional writer, like a real, you know, with credits with everything for a project. And when I read it, I had been reading so many bad scripts, that when I read this one, I was like, Oh, this is what a writer is like, it was so brilliant. The structure was, was spot on. Every word was like and I was analyzing it was I was reading it because I was just so taken by like, oh, okay, so he condensed everything right? He didn't overwrite everything. He left it open for your interpretation. But yeah, gave you just enough. If there's that fine balance when you're writing like that, and it was just so wonderful. To want to read it was a joy to read as opposed to reading, you know, 98% of scripts. Yeah. Which is, which is rough.

Jose Silerio 43:48
Yeah, I I've had those moments. Right. From from a professional. Right. Right. And it's like, before, you know, the right in page 90.

Alex Ferrari 43:59
Right, exactly. And you're slow reader.

Jose Silerio 44:04
Until I know, this is a good one.

Alex Ferrari 44:06
This is. And I think that's also advice for readers like people who are trying to get readers to get coverage and stuff like that they will notice because they've read so much crap all the time that when something of quality walks through the door, whether they like the matter the subject matter or not, they'll recognize talent in the writing. And it's it come in a blares out it like that, just it screams at you. Because, you know, it's not like you're in a bunch of William Goldman scripts. And Shane Black scripts, and Tarantino scripts are all tossed in you're like, Oh, who's really good? No, it's like a bunch of crap. And then you get that one piece of gold that comes in every once in a while. So, so I was fascinated when I was doing a little research for this interview, I found out that save the cat has some software. Yes. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that was kind of exciting.

Jose Silerio 44:56
Yeah, we actually do have a software and the nice thing about the software it really follows The Save the cat method, oddly enough, as its laid out, I guess what I should have said, laid out in the book in the first book, A Blake kind of goes through it step by step, right? So, so even in the software, it kind of forces you, if I may use that word, it kind of forces you first to come up with, you know, what's the genre that you want to pick for this story, you know, then it tells you to do the logline. Right. And then, but you're not able to jump right away into the beat sheet, or the board, you know, unless you go through it step by step first. And but the nice thing about it is that if you do follow the steps coming up with logline, then only with the long run, you'll be able to go into the beat sheet. Once you have your beat sheet, that's only when you're able to go into the board, you know, so it but it has all the elements of what makes the save the cat method, and what they kicked out, it kind of forces you to go through it step by step. I think that's the nice thing about it, because it really helps you think and not just I know there's us writers, we're always eager to jump into page one and fade in right. But it but that can also always get us into trouble right away. There is you know, you take the time, the first think about the idea. First think about the premise, the story started eating a dataset building outlines and building structure before you actually go to page one. And that's that that's that's what I think this software is good that it helps you sort of focus little by little step by step, that when by the time you don't get to page one fade in, you know, you've done the hard work already, right. But like I said, it follows all the rules of Save the cat, it takes you to the beat sheet, it takes you to the board, the 40 cards board, and you can see it all laid out in front of you and your screen

Alex Ferrari 46:45
now Can you can you explain I was gonna ask Can you explain what the board is? Because a lot of people might not know what the board is. I love using the board when I when I write it's so helpful. So can you explain it? Because there's the software version, then you're obviously taking it from a real life version, like actual board and stuff. So can you explain what that is?

Jose Silerio 47:03
Yeah, and it's same thing, you know, when when, first my introduction to the board also came from Blake, and how we how we explained it is that, you know, he walked into a producer's room. And oddly enough, same thing happened to me a few years after he told me about it was at the end, he sees, you know, it's corkboard in front of a word or little index cards laid out. And look at this, this, you know, it saved the cat, how we have it is that you have a big whether it's a cork board or white board, or whatever it is you're writing, you break that board into four rows, each row representing an AP, well, but you're gonna say okay, but there's four rows. So why 4x? Well, it's x one, act two, a new act to be an act three. And in each row, you have, we have 10 cards, and each card really is a scene or a sequence. Not meaning that again, it's always you can start what you're doing really here now with the board, surely, you are writing, right, and you're working on scenes already, you're doing scene structure work already here. And it allows you to sort of the follow your hero in terms of its plot in terms of its emotional story. Throughout, you know, you're able to lay out scenes and see if it's working in Act One or enact do, you know, if it's not, you can move them around. But the nice thing about is that again, you're able to see in a very visual, immediate sense, just by looking at the board, you're able to look at it right away and see how the story is playing out. You can see where the characters are moving forward. You know, you can even I think one thing I always emphasize with riders, so when when they do the boards, make sure you're also able to follow the emotional story in the board. You know, one thing we like talking about in save the cat is having the base story, you know, and what the beast story is for those who are familiar with it. What it represents it to me just the theme of the story. Right? So what what they don't know,

Alex Ferrari 49:02
is that that subplot or is that a b? Is that is a subplot or is that

Jose Silerio 49:06
a subplot? It's the emotional story. Got it? That that you that your story that your hero must

Alex Ferrari 49:11
go so then tight. So what's the emotional story of Titanic just so people have a reference?

Jose Silerio 49:16
Well, let's say for Rose, right? The physical story is, I'm going to get married to what's his name Billy Zayn. Right, Bill is the emotional story for her is that she has to be able to tell her mom, I'm not going to do what you're telling me anymore. And she wasn't afraid to my own person. Right? Right. And that's what Jack was just named Leonardo DiCaprio teaches her

Alex Ferrari 49:37
because she is she is she is the character she is the main character.

Jose Silerio 49:41
Yes, I agree with you that she is the main character. And that's what it likes Leo does for he's the one who forces her to learn the lesson to learn the theme of the story in order to be her own person. So

Alex Ferrari 49:52
in other words, it's not a subplot but like exactly like the outside. The obvious thing is like, I'm going to marry this guy and I'm going on this boat Yeah, but the emotion about what the intention of her character is this, what she's going after this is the the inner struggle or the inner journey, the inner journey,

Jose Silerio 50:12
it's the inner journey, it's the internal story guarding the with Luke Skywalker, the external aspect on the Death Star, right the internalist, he needs to learn to be a Jedi to believe into trust to trust leaving. So that's what you know. So going back now to the board, when I tell writers so you can mark this cards, you know, whether you use color, or whatever it is to mark them, you know, they say blue is going to be external story. Red is going to be internal story. It's a simple dot that you can put on each card. And then you can see where you're playing out the emotional story as well. So I think the board is, like I said, hopefully, I'm explaining it well enough. Now, yeah, that you're able to see right away just by standing in front of it. You know, what you have, where the story's going, where their hero is going, and how you're playing out the physical and the emotional story throughout. But it's also you know, it's saved, see if you do it now, meaning, you know, if you do with the board right away before you start writing pages, if you see like a certain sequence is not working in the middle of second app, but you can either take it out, put it away for another day, or maybe you say actually, you know, this sequence might work better in Act One, right? So but you can do it right away, as opposed to doing it later, or after six months or nine months of having written a first draft. Right, instead of saying, wait a minute, page 5255 wasn't working. But you know, yeah, I should have known that nine months ago. Right, right. And save myself the time. Right. So that's the beauty of what the board is

Alex Ferrari 51:45
now this in the software, do you have that option for the dots? Yes, you

Jose Silerio 51:49
do. Oh, great. Sophie, do you know, again, get the all of that we won't have time, but there are little places where you can assign color to it. Mm hmm. Perfect. Wonderful. And it's just a simple thing, but even assigning color to characters. I think it's a wonderful little trick. No, if, let's say green is going to be my villain. But if you're looking at your board, and your entire second row has no green in it, then you know you're in trouble. Because you don't have a villain in it. And the villain is the source of conflict.

Alex Ferrari 52:18
That would be that would be the first Twilight movie. Yeah. The worst films I've ever seen. I don't care what anyone says was horrendous. The villain shows up 20 minutes. I don't care spoiling it. 20 minutes at the end. I'm like, Are you kidding me? Are you kidding? The first hour, 20 minutes. It's just of them pining for each other. It was horrendous. And it's

Jose Silerio 52:42
there you go. See if they had the board

Alex Ferrari 52:45
they had? Well, look, look, they made a couple bucks on that. So what do we know? But they but it's not definitely not being studied by screenwriters. For their for their structure, a story narrative character or directing. But I'm sorry, I get I apologize. I just couldn't when you said that. I'm like, yes, no villain. i That's the first movie that came up. I'm like, because look what happens in Star Wars first, like three, four minutes of the movie? Yeah, the best, the best opening of a villain, arguably ever. And everybody. And that was a wonderful thing about that film is that I've read I've listened to I probably seen every interview with George Lucas ever about that movie about Star Wars. And he said that no matter where you were in the world, even if you had no idea who Darth Vader was. You knew and you didn't speak English. Yeah, you knew that was a bad guy. Yeah, that was that's the brilliance and the universal appeal of of those movies is like you knew and it did that thing with Kylo Ren as well that and the way they've designed his mask and it was all very strategic to portray a villain instantly. Yeah, it's

Jose Silerio 53:57
another great example if I may, is you know which which again was one of my favorites was whiplash with a mentioned ah, soberly way to introduce the dogs and ones first. Two minutes. Ah, for me, it's just just as good as introducing Darth Vader.

Alex Ferrari 54:12
I mean, I'll tell you what, when I watched that movie, it was it was hard to watch. That's a movie that's hard to watch a little bit because he is so brilliant at being just just horrible human. Exactly. He's so brilliant at it that it just I felt like I'm like just leave man just like it's not worth it man. Just go don't play the damn drums anymore. Just go

Jose Silerio 54:38
watch but we know you're gonna want to walk away.

Alex Ferrari 54:41
But you know what's brilliant is and he deserved the Oscar without question because he carries that movie. It does. The whole movie is him as me know he's not the main character but he is so overpowering as the actor and the character is so overpowering. That without him there's so much he's he's the Empire He is here. And this poor kid is Luke. And it's like, but that's if Darth Vader was yelling at Luke. Throwing symbols at its

Jose Silerio 55:11
chair with the horse.

Alex Ferrari 55:13
Just throwing the force like come on Lou, you know, three beats to Obi Wan Kenobi. Three beats with a lightsaber Come on. No. And you also have an app right to save the cat app. Is that different than the software?

Jose Silerio 55:28
No, it's It's, it's it's the same. But like you said, it's an app, it's, it's for your laptop. It's for your iPhone, or your iPad, or Android. I'm apt to be clear. I'm not sure about that. But I know you can work on your iPhone. But it got to go to the same thing sort of like a miniature version of what you can get on your laptop or your computer. Got it. But it's the same thing. It's obviously go through again your logline, and then the beats and then you can even do the cards there. But each card will be like one because it is just an iPhone.

Alex Ferrari 56:02
It's like what card it doesn't give

Jose Silerio 56:04
you the same data set you can play around it. We can you can get what's the word play between the app and the software. I think you can link it if I if I have that. Right. Okay, so what do you have in the in your app, we can go to the cloud and you know right without in your in your in your computer.

Alex Ferrari 56:21
And if you're at Starbucks writing your your script, and you have an idea real quick and you don't have your laptop? Yeah, pop it into your iPad, or iPhone. Because I was I was talking to another screenwriter the other day is like, people here in LA people outside of LA don't understand that. If you walk into a Starbucks, there's at least two people writing a screenplay. Any Starbucks in Los Angeles at any time of the day. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Never fails. Never never fails. So I'm I'm I'm now comes to the part of the show. That is the toughest questions. I ask all my all my guests. So are you Are you ready, sir?

Jose Silerio 56:54
All right.

Alex Ferrari 56:55
I hope so. Okay. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether that be in the film business, or in life in general?

Jose Silerio 57:03
Ah, you know what? This for me, it's, it's the discipline of writing. At least for me, personally, I think it's something also the you know, a lot of writers struggle with this, especially those who want to make writing their career job,

Alex Ferrari 57:21
it's time that white page, that white page is a mountain.

Jose Silerio 57:24
Yeah, but it is really just simply finding the time, day in and day out. To say I'm gonna write, whether it's just for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, or a page a day. Because it's so easy to get caught up with him, especially like I said, for those the newer ones, especially those who have a day job. If you can easily get caught up with other things. And before, you know, it's a week, especially I went to 10 single page before you know, it's two months ready. Right? They haven't written 10 pages. So it is it's not necessarily a lesson, right? But it this being able to spring to discipline yourself and say that I will be writing today. And again, for me, it's you have to put a goal, a daily goal that that's that is attainable for you. So you know, I know other writers who do like a page a day, I know who someone who does six pages a day, just stuff, I tried doing six pages a day. It sounds a lot easier to login this month, you're doing it stuff now. But you have to find a system that works for you that makes it like I said, attainable each and every day. So whether you go by page count, or by minute count, you have to do it. And if it means having to wake up a little earlier, or tell your kids at the end of the day, you know, sorry, that is playing right now on its own. Yes, exactly. I mean that you, you have to do it. And I think if anything, it's just that you have to keep writing if you want to really be a good writer. And I tell this to all writers, you just have to write it's it's not just writing but also reading scripts, not necessarily just watching movies. Yes, watching movies is nice. But read scripts as well. You know, and you have to find a way to put that into your schedule as well.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
Yeah, I

Jose Silerio 59:16
think that's certainly the best lesson for for one, to become a not just a good writer, but to be really a working writer.

Alex Ferrari 59:24
You know, the, if I may quote Woody Allen 90% of success is just showing up. Very true. It's an it's true that consistency of showing up every day and doing the work even if it's five minutes, even if it's 10 minutes, but it's that everyday thing and that's what people get hard. Like if you if you can get into that routine of just doing it every day little by little and trust me I know. Even even Academy Award winning writers have problems. Yeah, writing it like they're just like, Oh, God, I gotta go on right. You know, it's like it's it's right is one of the most laborious processes on the planet and it's one of the most underappreciated parts of the industry without question because without a great script, there is no movies. And it's it is rough. So that's a great, great piece of advice. Now what are your top three favorite films of all time?

Jose Silerio 1:00:17
Oh, man, that's I think this is even the tougher question. Yes, yes, this big three. Ah, all right. Oh, one would be I think the safe answer, but I really loved it. And it's one of those movies I keep watching over and over again. It's Shawshank Redemption of course.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:29
Of course it's one of my top three as well. Twilight obviously too but no, no Shawshank knows second a close second was twilight No. No Shawshank is amazing. It's amazing. It's it's it says it's honestly to me, it's this perfect little movie as you can get it for me because it's my generations Godfather

Jose Silerio 1:00:49
through they're very, very, I think same same with me. You know, it's one of the reason why I love it so much is because it really it kind of breaks so many rules, but it all works. Yep. Right? It's a cool story to read. Is it Andy's right? But you're going to go there at the end of the movie, you're just like, who cares?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
So I was gonna say like, whose story and like, now you'd want us ask me that. Like, whose story? Is it? Is it It? Is? Is it reds? I think it's I think it's reds. Maybe because he's the narrator's reds. Because he's,

Jose Silerio 1:01:22
in terms of, and again, for me, it's always like who had the biggest change? Right? And it's, and it's red? Yeah. Red is sorry, although you would think a lot of the action or out of the action being instigated was being instigated by by Andy.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
But Andy, but Andy didn't make that large of a change. Not not as big as he was just doing what he does. Yeah, exactly. But read from the moment you see and you actually see them in different tent poles of the movie when that whole interview with the with the board the parole board. Yeah, how he changes and you can literally I mean, that he really lays it out for you Frank Darabont does, and it's absolutely brilliant. And another one of his movies Green Mile, I love, love, love, love green Mo. So go ahead. Sorry,

Jose Silerio 1:02:07
about Shawshank again. I think that's number one for me. Another one, I guess. Again, there's no really order. Of course. One of the most perfect scripts I've read in the movie as well can work really, really nicely. Was a Little Miss Sunshine. Such

Alex Ferrari 1:02:24
a really movie. It's such a really, really,

Jose Silerio 1:02:26
I I tell you're eating NFL this Alright, so when I read that script, I said, this is perfect. I couldn't get reading a script. Yeah, it's it's tight. It's tight. It's tight. And you're following all these characters. Again, one of those that you know, Michael arm did a great job is building all these characters. We get to know all the characters right in the first 10 minutes. We're following all their stories in it. It's it's great. And it's one of those again, it's my way of engaging like if it's a favorite of mine, if you know when you're surfing the TV. Oh, yeah. If you happen to see it, then you stop. Yeah, absolutely. 50 times already before, right. It's one of those Little Miss Sunshine. And then the other one a smaller movie that I really, really, really loved as well. was Billy Elliot.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:10
Oh, yeah. I love Billy Elliot. I remember Billy Elliot, that was a really sweet film.

Jose Silerio 1:03:14
Yeah. And I think that this I think maybe just happened to be time with me when when I had my first child when they first came out. So the whole father son thing was

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
you secretly want to dance I understand.

Jose Silerio 1:03:26
You want to get I love you know how they played out, you know how our kids journey of him simply wanting to dance played against the backdrop of what's happening in his dad's world, you know, with the coal miners striking and having a bigger theme out there. But yet their theme really was just the same. I think it just makes you laugh. It makes me cry. It's what the movie should be. That's a great, that's a great list. Yeah. So it's that's kind of my top three I think. For now.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
For now. Yeah, that's, that's 2016 You asked me this tomorrow. It may change of course, of course. Now, what's the most underrated film you've ever seen?

Jose Silerio 1:04:04
Ah, this is a tough one. I think a lot. I always look for, you know, kind of movies here. Every year. There's like one small movie that comes out that for me to say, um, I didn't even know that came out in the movie. As you know, I've watched it in DVD, but I loved it completely. Right. And they're sort of like they have that in the field. But although there are recognizable actors in literature, right, I think like, in 2013 There's like way way back with Oh, yeah. I like to lay back which is great movie that Steve Carell Toni Collette you know, great cast. There was a yes, in 2014. There's a small one. With the skeleton, the skeleton twins. This with Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. I haven't seen that one. It's again, it's a small movie, right? It's very indie ish. But I just love how they build the characters and the relationship that they have. So you know, so it's goes for me every year I have kind of the one that they love that they felt like 2015 was 2000. That's 2015 for me. I was gonna say, but I was actually looked it up into happy to for just 2014 Again this, this is where I leave you. Okay, but you know, I think one big one that has photos in underrated it just I didn't even hear about it until somebody told me it was moon. Let me say moon.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:22
Oh, yeah, the song with some rock. Well, yeah, yeah.

Jose Silerio 1:05:26
I in terms of like, thriller, movies. It's just one of those projects. Wow, this really grabbed me. It was like, What the hell is going on here? Really just a nice thing about it. He just read the following one character. Yeah, some Rockwell Rockwell character, right? Then it's like, you're caught in it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:45
You're in, you're in the web.

Jose Silerio 1:05:47
You can't get up in you know, like I said, I found out about it simply because somebody told me about it. And I said, Look, I had to watch it then to not tell everybody. Have you seen moon? It's?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
That's a brilliant. That's the brilliant thing about when you find a little gem like that. You're like, why hasn't someone else seen this? What's going on? Yeah. So So where can people find more about you and more about save the cat? Well save

Jose Silerio 1:06:10
the cat, this website, save the cat.com or Blake snyder.com. But it's the same, I think the easy one to remember, save the cat.com. And in there, the website talks about you know, things that we do workshops that we have, consultations, we do but it also like we also bring up beat sheets of movies that have come out, which is always a great resource for writers.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:34
You have some new ones now to fill up some of the most recent movies. Yeah,

Jose Silerio 1:06:37
yeah, yeah. And we have people who contribute into it. So so that's kind of the best way to keep up with them with Save the cat. And again, like I said, it's it's an ongoing thing. It's a way of keeping, you know, Blake's method in alive and updated all the time.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
Fantastic. Well, Jose, man, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking to you today. I hope you had fun.

Jose Silerio 1:07:03
All right. Thank you very much for having us, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:05
Seriously, guys, if you've not read this book, you've got to go out and get it save the cat is an awesome, awesome book. It's just Blake wrote it so wonderfully. And it really opens up your eyes to a lot of different avenues of what it takes to be a screenwriter and how to tell a story. And his method is pretty amazing how it matches up in the in the world of movies today. And in the actual blog post or the show notes at Indie film hustle.com forward slash BPS zero 14, I put a couple of videos of how Blake's method master measures up to certain movies and they actually go through scene by scene of these very famous Hollywood movies. And you can see where all of his points line up perfectly. It's quite remarkable to watch so definitely check that out. And guys, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com and sign up and subscribe to the bulletproof screenplay podcast on iTunes and leave us a five star review. It really helps the show out a lot and helps us get this information out into the world. So thank you so so much. And as always keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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