This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 187: Michael Lucker Talks About How He Broke Into The Business As A Screenwriter.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #187 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m
Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Writer, Michael Luker. He’s been working as a writer for decades and has written many animated films including: “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron” and “Mulon 2.” He has a great story about arriving in Hollywood, and working for Stephen Spielberg. And how he got Spielberg to read one of his scripts. So, stay tuned for that interview.
If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes. Or leaving a comment on YouTube, or retweeting the Podcast on Twitter. Or liking us on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the Podcast and are very much appreciated.
Any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with each episode. In case you would rather read the show or look up something else up later-on. You can find all transcripts and show notes on the website, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and look for episode #187.
If you would like my free guide, “How to Sell Your Screenplay in 5 Weeks?” You can pick that up by going to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your Email address and I’ll send you a new lesson, once a week for 5 weeks. Along with a bunch of free bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional log-line and quarry letter. How to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for new material. It really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
I talk about my writer’s group quite often on the Podcast. We’re looking to add a couple of good writers to the rotation. We meet every Tuesday at 7:15p.m. till about 10:00p.m. in
Sherman Oaks California. Member writers put up about 25 pages, every 5 weeks. The pages are read by professional actors in front of the other writers in the group. And then the listening writers give notes to the writers who are representing pages that night. It’s a great way to work up material, network with other talented writers and actors. And hone your critical thinking skills by giving the other writers feedback, and notes on their material. I found it immensely helpful when developing my own scripts. This is a live, and in person event. So, if you need, you do need to live somewhere near Sherman Oaks California, to be able to attend weekly. If you are not in the L.A. area, consider maybe starting writers group of your own. Nearly every city in the world has a community of film makers, and writers. And in most cases they are just looking for someone to step up and be a leader and get things organized. The one big stumbling block for people is, with this writers group is? Is that you have to be committed to showing up nearly every Tuesday. Even when you’re not presenting pages. That way you can give notes to the other writers. It’s a very symbiotic relationship, when you put your pages out, the other writers give you notes, and then, when they put up pages, you give them notes. So, you know, you’re only up presenting pages once every 5 weeks. But, you still need to be there almost every single Tuesday, just to be a part of this group and participate and give feedback to.
If you would like to find out more about the group, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/writersgroup. That’s all one word, it’s just writers group, just all one word, tacked onto sellingyourscreenplay.com. Again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/writersgroup. I will of course link to it in the show notes as well.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing Writer/Director Michael Luker, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Michael to, the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Michael: Hey, thanks for having me.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a quick overview of your background. Where did you grow up, and how did you get interested in the entertainment industry?
Michael: Sure, I grew-up in Atlanta, and started writing songs for girls I had crushes on, that wouldn’t give me the time of day. And I started writing articles in the school newspaper. And I wrote a play in high school. And I went off to college in Boston. And studied broadcasting and film, at Boston University. And I moved out to L.A. like within a couple of months after graduation. I landed penniless and broke, in Pasadena, and started sending out resumes. And my career kinda took a winding, you know, winding, leading trail from there.
Ashley: Okay, so a couple of things to dig in there. Why did you wind up in Pasadena? Did you have a friend there, some connection? Why did you chose Pasadena as a stop?
Michael: Yeah, I wasn’t planning on it? And it was just the only couch I had to land on when I got there as a buddy of mine in college who had an uncle that lived there. And my buddy got the guest room, and I got the couch. And that’s the first spot where I started really? From there I just started trying to get word out. And get my foot in the door anywhere I could.
Ashley: And so, let’s talk about some of the specific steps, what exactly did you do? Did you have a bunch of scripts that you wrote in college. So, you already had some new material to start sending out?
Michael: Well, I actually was a, just trying to get a job in production. So, I had to get out, off the couch, and get my own place. And I went to the same French book store on Ventura Blvd. And I found a book there called, “The Hollywood Trade Directory.” And in it, it had the Emails, and names and address of everybody in L.A. that I wanted to work for. So, I promised myself that would send out 100 letters to everybody I wanted to work for. And of those 100, I got 1 interview. And it was the prestigious film company. And I got hired by them. And to work at Amblin Entertainment to work as a P.A. for them, when I was 21. And, within my being there 2 weeks. They asked me if I wanted to be Stephen’s assistant, because the assistant was leaving. They thought I’d be good for the job. So, I said, yes.
Look, it, I started on
“Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” as Stephen’s P.A. And had a chance to work for him for a year and a half on movies.
Ashley: Okay, did you know out of college that you wanted to write, direct, or act? Or maybe produce or something like that. Like way in the back of your mind, you knew writing was going to be your focus.
Michael: I did, I had that aspirations to direct and produce as well. And I’ve been fortunate to do a little bit of both. But, I always knew that writing was my best, bread and butter. I loved writing growing up. And I loved writing in college. And writing my first screenplay in college. One of the most-proud things I’d ever done. And so, when I landed in L.A. I was trying to find a job that paid my bills, and pay for my macaroni and cheese, at the same time. I was also trying to type at night so I could write a script. You know, sold, and get an agent, and get on my way.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk about that. How many scripts did you arrive in L.A. with? Just to get a feel for what your background was?
Michael: I had one script, I had one script it was called, “In Security” two words. And it was about two guys getting out of college and getting recruited by the FBI. Only to find out, they had been set-up as fall guys, and they had to get themselves out of that. And it didn’t get me a lot. Stephen was kind enough to read it. And I remember him reading it and saying, “This is much more violent than I thought you were capable of. Because he thought I was nice, sweet boy from Georgia. Which of course I was, am. But, I tend to write with a little bit of an edge, and that. It’s a part of my action writing. So,
Michael: And then from there I got an opportunity to write another one called,
“Repeat Offender.” And I just started cranking out scripts for years after that. And people kept r
Ashley: Okay. So, let me just talk a little bit about that relationship with Stephen Spielberg. I don’t think it’s that common for someone to land in L.A. and get that Assistant job. But, maybe you can talk about sort of the protocol of you know, being professional, and being appropriate and not putting your boss in an awkward situation where, hey man, I got this script. How did you approach him? How many weeks, or years, or months, did you work before him before you started to broach that subject, of hey, would you read my script? Or, maybe just talk about that a little bit. Because I think that’s something potentially a lot of writers run into.
Michael: Sure, it’s a great question? There is certainly, you know, protocol, and a way that you should handle yourself, in those environments. You get those opportunities and act with a little bit of class and operates in a little bit of integrity. So, I did that. And I worked my ass off for him, you know, 12-14 hour days, 5-6 days a week, for about a year and a half. But, during that time, I was trying to write at night after I was done with my work, after I was done with my 12 hour days. When everyone would go home, I would type, you know.
Sometimes I would type on the computer at anyone. Because I didn’t have enough money for my own computer when I started. And, a soon people started asking me what I was up to? And I told them, and copied people that at the office, said, “Hey, have you shared it with Stephen?” and I said, “No.” I didn’t really know if he, if that was appropriate? And then I think one of his
Senior Development Executives, told him I was writing a script. And then he asked me about it. And of course I was happy to share it with him.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Now, was there any reservations? Now, one of the big things you hear a lot of screenwriting advice is? You only get one chance to make a first impression. Were you a little nervous about showing him your first script? It sounds like at this point, you’re already working on other scripts. Was there any hesitation, hey man, hold off, let me finish this second or third, or fourth script, before I show it to Stephen Spielberg.
Michael: No, not really, that might have been because I was so naïve. Then, but at the same time I was excited about getting his feedback. And I had confidence in the script. You know, it was probably not the best of my work, in my career as a screenwriter. But, it was an honorable for a first, for a 21 year old. It showed what I wanted to do. And he as kind enough to give me some suggestions, and feedback, and that lead to a couple of other opportunities of meeting new people. They didn’t buy it, and the studio didn’t buy it, fine, but the company didn’t buy it. But, it kinda gave me the confidence to move forward. And that was really something that was a great blessing.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so here you are, you’re writing scripts. You’re networking and getting those scripts out there. Maybe you can talk about those first. Like, professional, that first break, or the first professional credit. How did you make that leap from just handing your script. To getting advice to actually, you know, maybe getting an agent, whatever that first step was, to actually making it into a career.
Michael: Sure. The interesting thing is that, I didn’t have enough time to write while I was working with Stephen because of the day are so long. So, I quit my job, to become a writer, so I would have more time, and I quickly went broke. And I found that I needed to keep making some money, to keep paying for my groceries. And so, I got a gig on Disney woke me on “Creative Affairs” at Hollywood Pictures. What was nice, about that is, I had the opportunity then to work on the buying side of the screenwriting business. To go on Stephen’s side was obviously a producer, creator, and a selling side. And now, I was working for all the guys that were re-doing the script, to buying the scripts. Deciding, what writers they were going to put on projects. So, I learn that side of the business. And at the same time, allowed a little bit more time at least to write. So, I worked on a script there. And I got that one done. I shared it with my boss at the time, Mike Stinson, with what went on to great success, working with Jerry Bruckheimer. And he was, kind enough to pass it along up the ladder there. And the executives there passed it along to a few other folks. And I ended up getting optioned by a small producer at the time, and I got an agent out of that. And, when I teamed up with a buddy, of mine. And he and I wrote another script, an action adventure movie for families called, “Little Outlaws.” And we optioned that to Paramount. And that gave us enough money to live for about 6 months. So, we quit our day jobs. I was working at Disney, he was working for Wes Craven at the time. We both knew that the beach, we labeled ourselves, “New writers.” And we started.
And we quickly went broke again. But, we typed our asses off, until we got one gig, and another gig, and another gig. And we were paying our bills that day.
Ashley: Okay, and so, this agent. Once you had that agent. Was he able to get you means, to get you some of those first deals and projects?
Michael: Yeah. His name is Byron Maven, and at the time, he was try-out artist. He went off and started his own business. And now, of course, he is head of literary at Grosh ABC. And he is probably been out, and he believed in us. He really helped us get our work, out to all the producers, and studios, and start getting meetings. And then it was really up to us and our reputations, to try and get jobs.
Ashley: So, let’s talk about on IMDb “Vampires of Brooklyn” was your first produced credit. And let’s talk about enterum sort of getting that agent and starting to make a little bit of money. And then actually getting a produced credit. Was there a lot of false-starts where maybe options to get paid to write something, that didn’t get produced. Maybe you could just talk about that. And I think it’s a world that, a lot of people aren’t going into screenwriting, don’t realize. You can be a screenwriter selling stuff, but don’t have any produced credits. So, maybe just talk about that. Maybe how hard it was to get over that hump and actually get there, and get that produced credit. And how many other projects are sort of in the mix.
Michael: Absolutely. We were hired to write a number of different projects, for many different small production companies, or small independent studio. Before we got the call from Wes Craven’s office, to do “The Empire.” We also writing specs. as well, trying to generate new opportunities of course, maybe we would option those. Maybe we might sell some. But, you know, it wasn’t ever a big opportunity yet. Until we got the call, and it was a wonderful thing. We were actually not doing great at the time. Trying to figure out, you know, how we were going to pay the rent, and in a couple of months. And the phone rang, and it was Wes Craven. That Chris had known from working in development with him, a couple of years prior. And they wrote up scripts, and they liked us a lot. And they said, “Hey, do you guys have a pitch?” for this Eddie Murphy project, yet that we are developing. Would you be interested in. And give us your take on it? And we said, “Hell yeah we would!” So, we went in there the next day. And they had a script that they were working on. Booking on that needed a lot of work. And we kinda broke it down and put it back together. And told them what it is we would do with it. They said, great, we love what you’re telling us, it’s different from other writers we’re hearing from. And we would like you to pitch it to Paramount. So, we did, they, loved what we did. And they want us to pitch it to Eddie. So, we flew to New York, and pitched it to Eddie, and he liked it, and we got hired. And the works, on it for about a month, a month and a half. And I got it turned around and we went through production and that was our first break if you will.
Ashley: Yeah, and so, I’m curious how did you transition than, it sounds like you were writing a lot of action scripts. Certainly Vampire in Brooklyn” Eddie Murphy it’s not kid friendly animation script. How did you then transition to all these credits that you have doing animation projects.
Michael: So, that was very
Ashley: Major projects.
Michael: Sure, it’s a, it was never a goal. It was never a plan, you know, I would, I was always enamored by, driven toward, attracted to, action adventure things, fare. And Chris, my partner at the time, and I wrote, a love story set here during the Revolutionary, the World War that we had left. The McConahey starring in, called, “The Trader.” And we had some luck getting it along. With producers, the directors, financing, and at the last minute it fell through. What happened was, as a result of that script. Suddenly the people at “Dreamwork.” Had read it and called, us and said, “Hey, we have an animated movie that has some of the same American attitude, and dramatic components, to what you have. I mean, your script, we think you have it might be good for it. So, we went and we met, and we pitched Jessie Cassenberg. And we got the gig, writing “Spirited Stallion of Cimmeron.” And everybody thought we were great, for that. And it allowed me to kind of like stretch my muscles of action and adventure fare, in that world. But, also have a lot of fun with imaginary, creativity, and character, in ways that animation affords you. Because live action may not always. And we had a blast doing it. And the suddenly Disney said, “Hey, if you’re good enough, for Dreamworks, you must be getting not for us. They asked us to come on and help with the sequel to “Mulon” and then “Emperor’s New Groove” “Lilo & Stitch”
“101 Dalmatians” “Home on the Range.” So, we kept the typing, and they kept liking it there, they kept reads, and promised us back, there was a great little run there, fantastic.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I’m curious, on a couple of, it’s kind of a 2-part question? At a college, very typical story. You graduated from college, you moved to L.A. What’s your take on being in Los Angeles. And now, you know, as you’ve matured in your career, you’ve moved back to Atlanta. And so, maybe you can talk about, a little bit about. Do new screenwriters need to live in L.A. And can you actually continue to have a vibrant screenwriting career, if you’re not in L.A.?
Michael: Sure. I think it’s important to be in L.A. Los Angeles, California. Obviously, you can type from anywhere. But, once you’re finished with it? You need to get it out there in the world. And you, in order to do that, you need to get it in the bank. As there are literary agents, and managers, and producers, and they are all waiting and all there. Even if your cousin in Poughkeepsie you know, who knows a Dennise, who is a doctor who knows somebody, who works in an office. At you know, at CAA, it’s 1 person. It really is busy to be there, pounding the pavement to try to generate, cultivate, those relationships. And, if they like it, and wants to represent you, and wants to work with you. And get you out there in the world. Then you need to be able to run-a-round and meet everybody at the studios, or at the network. And to do that effectively, and efficiently, it helps to be there. If they want to hire you, you want in the room. And that makes sense. I do think it is, essential to be there. Or at least be able to spend a quality of time there, as you are building. Once I had a little window near my sales. I did move back to Atlanta. And partially because I just like it, I like the south, I like the seasons, I like the culture,
I like the music on the radio. And I enjoyed my 10 years in Los Angeles. And I still have great friends there. A manager, Trinity, and CPA there. Which allows me to keep a little bit of a foot hold. And I go back and forth as much as I am needed. But, frankly, it’s not as easy for me to work day-to-day in the industry, as I was when I was there. So, that’s part of the reason that got later on in my career, when I came back here,
I started doing other things: Directing, producing commercial content, unscripted television. And certainly now, I’m really enjoying lecturing at University.
Ashley: Okay. So, I just want to touch on that. And just quickly on some of the TV. There’s a lot of stuff. A lot of TV writers, that would listen to this Podcast. And so, maybe you can talk about that transition of you know, producing some television. And how you made that transition. And what you’re recommendation are? Just in terms of from a writing perspective. How writers can potentially break into TV as well.
Michael: Sure. Well, there’s a couple of different things are to it. 1. Is, if you want to be producing, directing, scripted television. It really needs for you to be in Los Angeles, as well for that. I wanted to be in Atlanta. So, it made it harder for me, to transfer my skill set at from feature writing, to scripted television. But, what I did find, back here? Was that all the unscripted networks want you to find great characters in your back yard, in cool funky worlds. But, really are outside of L.A. and New York. Where most Writers, Directors, Producers live. So, They want you to find the next, you know, “Duck Dynasty” basically. And so, that’s partially it. What helped drive that faze of my career, when I got back here, was. Where the barriers of entry, where was the lowest where I can use my skills set, to try and develop new opportunities here. And, enjoy creating content. And it was a different shape than it had been in Los Angeles. But, I was enjoying some of it, maybe not all of it.
Ashley: Sure. So, let’s dig into your new book. “Crash, Boom, Bang.” Maybe you can just kind of pitch us, tell us what that’s all about and we can dig into it a little bit.
Michael: Sure. It’s my first book, I’ve never written a book before. I’ve been writing screenplays my whole life. And I’ve been teaching screenwriting for a number of years now. Not only in at every university, University of North Georgia. But, also lecturing around my own props. And people who have been telling me I should write a book, really for a few years. But, I was reluctant. Just because I haven’t done it before. I wasn’t sure exactly my approach to it. But, finally I was, I wrote an introduction to the first chapter and I shared it with a couple of buddy’s and they said, “Hey, this is great, you should submit it to a publishing house. And I did, and I was fortunate to find Michael Weesee productions. Who is the publisher of an independent film, “Streaming Books in the World.” And they really liked it. And they liked me, and they said, “We think you got something here.” And we did a deal. And they sent me a check. Then I had to write the rest of the book. And so I put together 12 chapters, it’s largely based on what I teach in the classroom, and what I teach in the work-shops. And it walks, you know, writers, professional writers, inspiring writers, wanna-be-writers. Through all the nuts and bolts. Of taking your idea from onset to completion. And ultimately it gives a little bit of sense of how to prepare for launching your screenplay out into the marketplace.
Ashley: And I’m curious, what do you think of other screenwriting books, in general? There’s some that you like? Some that inspired you to kind of throw your hat in the ring.
Michael: A, I when I first got to L.A. I studied screenwriting, a good bit. I studied you know, al the greats, screenwriting, lecturers there. I read books of a variety of folks, of whom I really liked. A fan of, you know, Blake Schnider, Bob Seager, and John Tribee, and Robert McKey, have all been very helpful to me. But, I will say, honestly. The most inspirational, and guiding voice in my screenwriting career. Was Ma’s screenwriting Professional course at Boston University, his name is Dr. John Kelly. And I was with him 2 or 3 days a week, every week, for a whole semester. And by the time I left there. I felt like I had a good foundation, to at least believe, that I knew how to write. And also had the confidence, that hopefully I could succeed in doing it.
Ashley: So, are there some specific maybe just tips, tricks, to writing the action movie, that you can share with us now? Maybe just a little teaser of kinda what your book is going to help people with.
Michael: Yeah. I think, a few things. 1. At least have something to say. You know, if it, if we writers whether we’re writing in a romance, drama, comedy, or action. Have a theme in mind, message in mind. Then at the core, you have something for your hope, for your movie to stand upon. And it gives you cause, to, you know, to face the blank page every day, and try to finish it. Because you have something you want to say to the world. So, if you’ve never thought of that, that’s great. It gives you something strong to stand on. So, I say that. I’m sorry.
Ashley: Hope for an example, it sounds like what you were just going to go into
Michael: A, yeah. It’s like with action movies, I think it’s easy to, you know, start, it just feels that you can survive on great acting, and great action scenes, smart-ass witty lines, from,
you know, “Handsome Hero’s.” and “Fast Cars.” And you know, with the explosions. But, having something to say, really helps it all. So, I mean, I always go back to “Die Hard” being the original one, and you know, “Lethal Weapon” even “Raiders” I mean, a lot of the movies I
grew-up on are the ones that inspire me. When I think that those messages remind me be coming from the world around us, those social statements. But, I think more often times comes from character. And I think that when there’s a lesson, your hero needs to learn, and do learn in time, to achieve their goal. Achieve what it is they want. But, that ultimately is the best route to your audience digesting the message with any real clarity.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, Perfect. So, let’s talk a little bit about screenwriters school, in Atlanta. Maybe you could kinda tell us what that’s all about, and how people could potentially learn more?
Michael: I started screenwriters school, several years ago, to accommodate they requests by the people that I share what it is that I value and learn. So, they can go off and write their stories. It’s some sort of a discipline. And it’s been great. It’s whole weekend work-shops, a few times a year. Is basically a scope of it. And one weekend on a Saturday and Sunday. I walk everybody through the nuts and bolts of taking a script and putting it through to completion. So, by the end of 2, 8 hour days, together. They really have a good base to start writing their structures from. And then, I’m available to help them on the long run base for those screenplays down streams, should they wish.
Ashley: Okay, what are some common mistakes. Maybe you could just talk a little bit about, you know, you’re doing these work-shops. You’re seeing a lot of new writers come in. What are some common mistakes that you see over and over, and over again?
Michael: You know, the biggest mistake, I find from writers, not only in the work-shop, but at the university setting, is the belief that, it’s too hard, that they can’t do it. That the competition is too overwhelming. And I say, look at your Netflix que, and look at your television, and look in, you know, Fandango, look in, and look all around, there’s more and more avenues of channels of distribution of entertainment, now than there ever has been. And they continue to grow at an exponential rate, thanks you, you know, the web. So, there are opportunities out there. It may not be writing, you know, fast and furious for everyone. But those opportunities exist too. Someone needs to write those screens, why can’t they. So, I think if they are able to get over that, and realize that if they do the work, they learn the craft, they apply what they’ve learned. And have the confidence, that they should get it out in the world, that anything can happen. And I’m a firm believer that you can control your own destiny. You need a little bit of help from the universe. But, you can do your part. And then I think you have to have some confidence that the universe will do it’s.
Ashley: So again, for someone who sees a lot of students, I’d be curious to get your take on the nature versus nuture argument. Are there some screenwriters that come in there and you just feel like, man, that guy doesn’t have a lot of talent? But, 6 months down the road, they send you a script. Eh, it’s actually pretty good. Where do you think the nature versus nuture argument kind of falls for screenwriting?
Michael: I think that there is an inherent talent, you can bring to the page. But, also that talent needs to be honed. It’s like, Michael Jordon, Tiger Woods, see whoever? When the court hits the course. Doesn’t just automatically start playing at the top of their game because of their natural talent. That helps them prepare for a life time of learning the craft, and practicing the craft, and mastering it, the craft. So, I think that you can have some innate qualities, and things that are taught to you, in your youth that maybe need to tap into your creativity. But, those are things we talk about as well. Some writers have exceptional skill, but some don’t. But, I think everybody can learn, and everybody can get better. And I think ultimately it’ll have, help them become better screenwriters, better writers of other mediums, and better people. Understanding what makes stories work, understanding what makes messages strong. Understanding what makes characters whole.
Ashley: So, how can people find your book? Has it already been released? And where would be a good place to go buy if people wanted to check it out?
Michael: It just came out 2 weeks ago, on Barnes & Noble, nationwide. So, they can go to anyone of those shops and they should have it on the shelf, or they can order it, if they don’t already. I think they can order it through Amazon. And probably pick it up at any other
mom and pop books store. Have them order it. So, love to have everyone keep and take a look at it, and hope it’ll help them in their journey. Whether they’re action screenwriters, aspiring action screenwriters, screenwriters, or writers of any other genre.
Ashley: Okay, and same thing for screenwriter school. How can people find out more about that? When you’re doing your next workshop?
Michael: They can go to – www.screenwritersschool.com, to see more about it, and to register. They can Email me at any time at – firstname.lastname@example.org, and really the best thing they can do to stay up to speed on what I am doing? And also get tips on writing almost on a daily basis. Is to follow us on Facebook, at Screenwriters School.
Ashley: Alright. Perfect, perfect. I will round all that stuff up and put it in the show notes, just so people can click over to it. So, Michael fascinating interview I really appreciate you coming on today and talking with me today.
Michael: Sure, Thank you so much for having me.
Ashley: Thank you, we’ll talk to ya later.
Michael: Alright, take care.
Ashley: You too, Bye.
Ashley: A quick plug for the SYS Screenwriting Analysis Service. It’s a really economical way to get a high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy a 3-Pack, you get evaluations for just $67.00 per script for feature films, and just $55.00 for tele-plays.
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Turn-around-time is usually just a few days but rarely more than a week. The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors.
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We can provide an analysis on feature films or television scripts. We also do proof reading without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give you an analysis, or give you the same analysis that I just talked about on the treatment or synapsis. So, if you are looking to vet some of your projects. This is a great way to do it.
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On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing, writer/director, Jarod Cullen, he’s done a number of horror thriller films. We’ll talk about one of his most recent films, a film called, “Devil’s Domain.” It’s a fascinating inspirational story that he’s going to tell about how he broke into the business. Jarod is very down to earth, we talk through his exact process of how he got his career going. Just to give you some perspective he’s directed 15 films in the last 3 years. So, he’s very busy, he’s constantly working. I talked with the writers on two of these films. And sorta co-incidentally, Jarod has directed two of the films, that I have interviewed writers on this Podcast. Those two films are called, “The Hoard” that was episode #129. You can go take a look at that. And also a film called, “Little Dead Ridinghood.” Which is episode #113. Jarod has lots of advice for all of us. So, I think it has, as a very inspirational and just encouraging interview, lots of little tid-bits, lots of great advice. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Michael. I’ve mentioned this before. But, I’m going to go ahead and mention it again. A while back I did an analysis of the first 75 Podcast episodes. I basically went through and charted through each week, one of those screenwriters broke into the business. I’m going to link to that article in the show notes so you can a look of it. It’s pretty broad. As I said, it really breaks down paths of breaking into the business. By far the single biggest way people broke into the business as a screenwriter. Was a story of like what Michael just told. Getting a job in the business, writing scripts in their spare time. Then having some building relationships through that job. So, you have people to give your scripts to, as you are finished with them. I will link again, to this article in the show notes. But really do keep this in mind, if you are in a position to move to L.A. and take a low-level job in the industry. This really is going to be your best bet if you are going to get into the business as a screenwriter. Again, it’s not the only way, check out the article. It breaks down all the different other ways that people broke into. This isn’t the only way to break in but, this far and away. This was the #1-way people broke into the business. It’s they all have stories very, very, similar to Michael’s. Getting that low-level job, meeting people, writing scripts. And then getting some of those people that you meet in the industry to read the scripts.
The other thing I really want to highlight from Michael’s story, is how he got Stephen Spielberg to read the script. You know, he wasn’t being annoying or weird. He wasn’t going up to people and asking them to read the script. He was just doing his thing. He was writing scripts all in his spare time. Talking about them, and turning them into content. Doing the normal stuff, and just through normal conversations, people were in the office, were aware that he was writing a movie script. And by not being that annoying person, that was trying to push it off on some people. It actually has the opposite effect. If you are just working away on the scripts. People know you are working on your script. Some of the people in the office, are just going to be naturally curious, and wonder what it’s like, I wonder if he’s any good?
What it’s about, so they are going to approach you. They are going to ask to read the script. So again, I would say, this is not only a great sort of macro-view. You know, that idea of getting that job in the industry, meet people that are working their way up. Michael offered a real first-hand glimpse, of exactly what that means, what you do? How do you get that job. You get in there, you network with people. You not the only person, hey, man you want to read my script? That’s not what you’re going to do. You’re going to get in there, and you’re going to do it. You’re going to do a good job, at whatever your designated position is. But, you’re also going to be working on the weekends. At nights you’ll be writing your scripts. Just through out the conversations, natural conversations you can bring this up. You can tell people. Oh yeah, I’m working on this script. And we’re going to ask. And again, word will get out, and people will start to ask what you are working on. And especially if you couple it with something like, entry leading to contest, and actually winning some of these contests. You’ll, word will get out. And Michael he won contests. You know, and that will peak people’s interests more. And get people more interested in perhaps reading your material. So, again, I think this is an excellent templet for people, or anybody who is in a position to just move to L.A. find that low-level job in the business and try and working your way up. This is exactly how it’s done. As I said, just I would guess, if you analyze how much broken in across not just the 75 episodes. My guess? Is that it would hold true no matter how many screenwriters. How big your pool of screenwriters was? My guess is Michael’s story is going to be one of the more common ways that you hear.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.