This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 034: An Interview With Writer / Director Eric Haywood.
Welcome to episode thirty-four of the SellingYourScreenplay podcast. I am Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over SellingYourScreenplay.com. In this episode’s main segment, I’m gonna to be talking with writer director Eric Haywood. Eric has been stuffed on numerous television shows & recently just completed writing & directing his first feature film. We go through how he broke into TV writing & how he continues to stay & play. He’s a real hustler & a go getter. He shares a tone of practical information in the interview as well as a healthy dose of inspiration so stay tuned for that.
If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me review in iTunes or leaving a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking it on Facebook. This social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast.I’d like all the folks who left me comment over on YouTube on episode 32 James Strakorers, Standford Train, Kay Will & Adam Strange. I’d like to thank Marty Wolth, Vilm Finati & Carla Meknis who all retweeted last week episode on Twiteer, thank you for that. I’d like to thank everyone on Facebook who left a comment on the episodes. If you are on Facebook please like our page it’s Facebook.com/sellingyourscreenplay. So thank you Ryan Heights, Thomas Ryan, Lew Agence, Vergenia Shine, Stephiney Rewny, Branden Ryenes, Karly Malen & Rechance Klein & of course Elisa Meyers my lovely wife who likes all my prods. Thank you everyone for that it seems it seems that the Facebook page had a lot more activity last week. If you have any questions about any of the episodes, our Facebook page is probably a good place as any to ask your questions. I’ll be looking at all the comments & responding over there. So thank you for that.
A couple of quick questions/notes – any websites or links that I mentioned in a podcast can be found on my blog in a show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you would rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast’s show notes at www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/podcasts. Just look for episode 34. Also if you want my free guide “How to sell screenplay in 5 weeks?”, you can pick that up by going to www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide. It is completely free, you just put in your email address and I will send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screen play in that guide, how to write a professional log line inquiring-letter, how to find agents, managers or producers who are looking for material. It really is everything you need to know about how to sell your screenplay. Just go to SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am talking with writer director Eric Haywood. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Eric to the SellingYourScreenplay podcast! I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Eric: Thank you for having me. I am glad to be here
Ashley: So to start out, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your carrier in entertainment industry, how did you get started & how did you get to where you are today.
Eric: yeah, it’s a kind of indirect path that I took to get where I am now. Actually, I was born & raised in Molkoskanse & I knew from fairly early age that my career goal was to write & direct features. So having no connections to the industry & having no independently wealthy relatives who could finance my feature film career. I figured I needed to do something to jump start my self down that path…
Ashley: So search for something..
Eric: yeah…the first thing I’d do was that I looked into our graduate film schools. I got to thetypical places UFC, UCalley & because I was coming out of state.That’s a long term since I was at school I was looking to go to a poet’s college & graduate with a film degree but because I was coming out of state all those colleges were prohibitively expensive. So I found out that my local college the university ConsolMolky offered a offered a degree in film studies& productions so I said I’ll do that & use the money that I’d spend surviving in Los Anglos or New York towards my student film projects. So after time I got stuck more as junior year in college. I really want to get the feature film side, I didn’t want to wait to get a degree & then figure out what the next step was. And at that time, using videos working very bible way to make a leaving. Now I make a leaving but I figure to make a career a living as a music video director that would give me tones of production experience. I’d be able to deal with a variety of production, circumstances that would prepare me that once I got ready to direct my feature. You know some youth down the road, working crew people, working with schedules none of that stuff would be foreign to me. I basically printed up kingos, some black & white virginary business card & went to tidy the pavement looking music video work & one project led to another. I ultimately begin doing… you start out doing videos for people who no one heard of because you’re local artist you never have directed video & you put together director’s video & use that r to market yourself to major record labors you can do videos for national artists & that basically that I went. I started doing videos for some national artists, major work that labors does & building my production experience from there. I did that for several years but along the way in between doing music videos I was writing, I still had my eye on features so I was writing feature film specs scripts just trying to sharpen my skills as a writer in between directing jobs. I wasn’t even familiar with the term specs at that time. They were just, I got my hands on some screen plays, the screen writing stuff I learned to format that I just said about, just writing a script after another & put in drawer & try to make the next one better than the one before. So after a number of years of music video work & dealing with the fairly insane music industry I basically got sick to death that I don’t want to be that guy who still 20 years from now directing music videos. The original dream was to do features so I decided to basically call turkey from music videos & just stop doing them & focus on getting an independent feature film budget off the ground just because I had made a lot of people all over the years & a lot of them had the same sort of dream of directing features. But not a lot of them got passed the dream stage or the planning stage or the ‘what if’ stage. So I knew that the only way to set myself apart would be to actually take feature film from original concept all the way through to completion so I could be as a doer as a post to a talker & also should mention that along the way I relocated from the Milwalky to Atlanta in the mid- 90s because once again I was faced with the sort of choice of going to New York or Allay & I fell like if I went to one of those cities with virtually no experience or very low experience by that point. I’d be a very small fish in a very big pond & the music scene in Atlanta in the mid- 90s was huge. There were resident labors based town there & I had a couple of projects in Atlanta before I relocated there. So I thought that would be the perfect midoground for me to stand out & continue to give work as a video director so that’s the idea I moved to Atlanta & my base sort of operations, were from there. I did some video work in Allay, in New York, in New Orlands, in San Francisco, in Miami basically gonna cross across the country then I got to the point where I just sort of get fed up with all sort of the ciast involved in the music video world & wanted to do feature. A feature film that I can sell her in Atlanta for virtually no money, I will use all unknown actors but it’ll be out finished & a decent calling card that’s why I set up on doing it. I wrote a script, I was raising money & I was holding auditions & looking for locations & we were sort of very early stages of prep when I sent the script to a friend of mine was here in Los Anglos, who a producer & a deal with one of the main studios. To him the script was just to get opinion & some feedback on the quality of the writing. By a week or so later he called me back & said that he loved the script & want to help me get it made on a bigger budget level with some name actors. He knew that I was planning on a sort of lower style in Atlanta & the only catch was that I had to shut down the virgin of the project that I had already started in Atlanta because we couldn’t have 2 versions of the same project in development at the same time. I said that sounds reasonable so I shut down my low budget project, gave my investors their money back & basically began working with this producer doing some rewrites & talking notes & then I realized this seems like actually gonna happen, may I have them with some name actors so I should move from Atlanta to Allay so I can be there in the heart of the industry when this project is off the ground so I can be prepared to roll over into the next thing & next thing. I supposed to be this guy who has to compute all the way from east coast to take medians & bring them back. So I moved to Los Anglos & the script got shut all over town & everyone one passed on it but I believe I got pretty much the same feedback from everyone who did pass on it so they love the quality of the writing but we don’t know what to do with it. The sort of code for this story is a black family drama & we don’t believe there’s an audience. Eventually… I apologize for this is taking much longer than I thought.
Ashley: No…no…that’s very good interesting stuff…keeping going that’s good.
Eric: so what happened in addition to all the various studios that we used & cable channels that the script got sent to. It also got sent to a show runner who was looking for writers for a show time of weekly drama series called sorrowful. Sorrowful was one hour black family drama so my feature script just happen to sort of fall right in the same thing, subject matter was. So I submitted my script at certain meeting & I didn’t mean get to hire much staff for season but it happened that I got offered a free episode of TV for a season. I felt that’s great, it’s a professional credit, it’s a nice station, a foot in the door in the industry who am I to say no to that. So that experience went fairly well & when the show came back or when it was ready to come back for the second session. The show runner offered me a job on stuff full time & once again this is about a year after I had moved to Los Anglos may be a year & a half so it wasn’t that long & again I had come to Allay to do features. At that time television incapable in particular, it still didn’t the respect gotten in 3, 4, 5 years. Feature films were still considered the cream of the crape & television was considered several steps on the ladder below that. But still once again it was a professional credit, it was steady job & for me to basically get paper right. So I get the job & it ended up in loving it & stayed on the show from season two until the show ended in season five. What happened was when season two first started all of the thoughts that it was written here in Los Anglos but it was filmed in Toronto. All of the writers went up to Toronto at the beginning of season two. So we pitch stories to the show runner, while she was preparing to direct the season two premier episode. So once we get up to Toronto, were basically given a tour of the facility where the show was made & on one side of the building where all of the production offices & the larger area, all of that has to build in with the standing sex. As you walk around & you meet people, you get the lay of the land & figured out what was going on. What I realized was this feature film that I come to Los Anglos with had bounced all over town & it gotten politely rejected pretty much every were. I kept on doing rewrite after rewrite trying to make it more appealing to the next potential buyer so that went for about year & a half or so. When I get to sorrowful I realized that the stories that we were pitching were being turned to scripts that we want to write, that we want to be film on the schedule & we already have preset ardex. So instead of polishing my feature script indefinitely had seen nothing from it & no money from that whole process. Working in television was sort of like become that whole new frontier from me because I realize I got to see my work finished as a post of doing polish after polish & hopes that someone will come along & want to actually make it. That became the turning point for me, that turned me from what I call the feature’s film nag into really loving & appreciating television. The other thing was in addition to getting paid to do it & knowing that it’d get on the air, the other thing that I really liked about television it’s a one thing that I realize to tell an entire story in 90 minutes or 120 minutes. But in television if your show is so proportionate to last several episodes. You know do you do story wise for ideas when you’re in season 3, 4 & 5. Season 5 episode 10 if you were through good ideas while you have to dig a little bit deeper to keep coming up with new ideas introducing the characters, keeping your distant characters & finding new ways to have them grow & evolve that was a very different world from feature films like I said where you’re telling your complete story in one shot. And I had that exact challenge really excited me so for all those reasons I fell in love with the idea of being a TV writer very quickly.
Ashley: let me go back on some of these, I have some fellow questions on some of what you said. I’m curious… this’s more than just curiosity, what did you to say to those original artist. You’re stuck as junior in college, I mean may you have done some student videos but they’re probably not that great. I mean what did you pitch even these low level local artists, what did you pitch to them & what was your sort of angle to get them to say yes we want you to direct our videos.
Eric: In all sort of honesty, it was sort of the blind leading the blind. These were artists who had never done videos before & there was a little bit of fake to so you make it; my part like you are going there & you basically hustle, you pitch yourself, you write a treatment & come up with an idea for the video writing that to every page. They claim to read but they never do so you’re gonna there & you basically pitch them on the ideas & you have to find ways to win their confidence & make them trust you enough to give you thousands of dollars to do the video. It’s been so long & actually can’t tell you specifically what was there back them but I do know it was sort of like. You never wanna talk of such a big game but you can deliver all your promises but you do kind of hustle a little bit to the point where you get people excited about your ideas & what you can deliver even that you not may at the time have the body to work it up. It’s the same that everybody faces in every aspect in the industry. It’s like how you get in, speaking of you cant a get a job without experience. Sometimes it’s the combination of how much of enthusiasm you have & luck. May be you’re just able to talk to someone into falling for yourself stitch. The proof is in the putting because once someone give you the money & you shoot the video. You used to have to deliver otherwise you become that guy who makes a big promises but doesn’t have any talent. I have never really doubted my ability to do it but yet there was a fair amount of whatever the other guy you’re talking to, is willing to target you for this video I’ll undercut that person.
Ashley: So just pure hustle what really comes down to…
Eric: It was in the 20th that director had overhead, it was like I could have done it for free or I could have done it at cost. In some cases in my early days I probably did a couple of those but it was more you wanted the job so you begin to build your directors to real then the need to hustle becomes last & last because now here’s my body of work & I have references & reputations for being able to deliver on time & on budget & all of that. But at first it was like you’re going you use your guest of gab & trying to reach the point where they are willing to take it.
Ashley: let’s talk about you said that you sent that feature script to a friend in the industry & he liked it & called you back. How did you meet that guy?
Eric: That was someone who I have known for years back in my music videos days. He had gone the feature film independent route, had some success & then in his career he began to climb in the feature film & we kept in touch all through the years
Ashley: Was there other people? I always want to get sort of scope on what you say when you’ve sent it to that guy he liked it, at this point you’ve been directing music videos for quiet a long time so I am guessing you had a quiet few connections in the industry. Did you send the script to more than one person or was this the only person you sent it to ?
Eric: No, I really didn’t because remember that my intention at the time, my game plan was to do it all myself. I was going to do it for so little money & so under the rate out there & to be happy with that. A part of that plan was to protect myself just in case the project blew up in my face, it ended up biting more than I could chew like I didn’t want to tell the whole world I was doing this film & if the disaster start at some point & I didn’t finish, now I have a bunch of people asking what happened to this movie. So I wanted to have this project as quiet as possible & the only reason why I sent the script to this one person, like I said I sent it as he was an old friend of mine & be honestly just expected & wanted some feedback on the writing. I didn’t have any sort of motive like, he got a studio deal so may be if I am lucky he will take me there to swing & do some sort of deal with it. It honestly have never crossed my mind that that might be a possibility
Ashley: So you saw this script is floating around town & you said the show runner for sorrowful she just happened to read it & like it & naturally you got that. When you went to that original have you never written the same single episode of any TV show?
Eric: I had not, not at all. I’ve never thought about that but now I had & I’ve come to learn over the years that for me as I remember I was very sort of dedicated, tunnel vision, generosity towards feature films. So it never gonna to me that I should be writing television specs or anything. I was 100 percent in-pursuit of feature film career when this TV show came. So to answer your question, no I have never written television before. But I think the fact that my feature much pretty like it was just the vein of the show. I think that there was a belief that writing to this feature than I could write the show
Ashley: So when the producer is getting the script out, at some point did you try to find an agent & when was that source of process.
Eric: You highlight all of real asking questions, I never looked for an agent, I never looked for a manager & not because I didn’t think I needed it, here it’s because honestly….I didn’t have any source of mentor in the business saying here what should be doing. This was even sort of not log myself. It was the fairly days of the early internet so some would have on google & look up what’s the steps of getting an agent. It was so completely foreign to me. All I knew that I wanted to write & wanted to direct so I’ll figure out all the rest. I’ll figure out somehow a long the way so I got my first manager because one friend of mine who worked in production & in development actually was having lunch with literary manager & the manager asked her I am looking for new people to represent who of whom you read lately can be coming & you like. She recommended me & sent him the same script that got me the job on sorrowful. He read it & liked it & called me as he wanted to represent me. That manager been took the same script once again so I got at that money that I got lot’s of money of it, I got my first job & I got my first manager. The manager took that script & sent to an agency who read it & liked it & wanted to represent me. So I got my first job, my first manager, my first agent all offered on produced feature film. Just to jump a head of little bit before I forgot this detail. The feature film was called relative stranger & after I have been working for television quite a few years. The relative film project has completely fallen by the way aside, we have exhausted very possible avenue for getting it made & it was basically made, I was capable of that because like I said that script brought me the agent & the manager &sort of lunch my TV writing career. One day I was driving 101, I got a call from my agent said the whole mark channel read the relative stranger & they’re very interested they wanna make it but there was a catch it’s going to be a fairly low budget production & I was basically attached to the script as director all of this time because the budget is gonna be fairly low & the schedule is gonna be fairly tight they’re nervous about letting me to direct. They want to put someone who is an experience director. My agent told me that he told them that I was so attached to this script & he wasn’t sure that I’d go for that & there will probably be a deal breaker as he retelling the story to me I said no make the deal because again I thought the script has been exhausted, everyone wants to get out of this script & it already taking me much farther than I already dared to imagine & now if someone wants it again. My TV training once again conditioned me if you gonna make this & you’re gonna pay me for, I’m gonna put it on the air so me standing in the way of the whole process because I want to insist on being a director share would just be foolish. I stepped aside by all means so that project in the beginning made & it still is from time to time it reruns on the whole mark channel take itself from the air as the main character. It was really kind of bazar the way that got everything together because like I said you get actual points with me where I was convinced the script was dead. It was like where else gonna take it that we have it already taken it but my agency was pretty tieless & they didn’t want to leave any stone unturned & the idea for making it for TV movie entirely came from them & they helped make that happen. So after that when I was working in TV for a little while about this point
Ashley: yeah that’s great story, so just a couple of that tracking questions. When wrote the stranger, who many scripts that you said you have written at that point?
Eric: May be four or five
Ashley: did you send those 4 or 5 before relative stranger? Have you sent any of those to anybody just like the producer or friend? Have you sent any of those to them?
Eric: definitely not & the reason why I sent that actually because I was honest enough with myself to know that those scripts weren’t ready which is why to this day I got a little upset when people reach out for me either on email or on Facebook or on tweeter & just say I think that my first script was good, would you please read it. So I send if that is your first script keep it & the drawer & write another one. Because no matter how good the first one is, the second one is gonna be even better. Yet, if you’re being honest with yourself & honest, about your strengths & weaknesses as a writer & it also speaks to your dedication to your craft & your determination. If you feel like you’re first ever or you’re second ever screen play is some sort of lotary ticket & you deserve to hit the jack button. It makes me far interested in your writing, it sounds that you aren’t really taking the craft as seriously as you probably should & I only feel that way because I might have applied the same mentality to my own writing long before anything to do with professional career so all that would say in all those scripts I knew I am getting somewhere as a writer. I am not there yet, it wasn’t there until I wrote a stranger but I honestly felt like I have something here, I think I can finally get enough practice under my belt to confidentially get out with this script more than the others.
Ashley: so let’s jump ahead a little bit into something bigger, I met a lot writers TV writers that have hard time transition from one show to another. So let’s go through that quickly. How did you got from sorrowful onto Huawei & from Huawei onto private practice just a quick sort of estimation about how that went down & you were able to do transitions on these television shows.
Eric: yeah, well upcoming from sorrowful I’ve begin to learn more how did a TV writing in industry works & that’s where I began to learn about writing which at a time were your sort of best shot at getting considered for future work & I knew sorrowful wouldn’t last forever so I wrote a west links that was a long ago that where I got a bit of attention & that landed me once sorrowful ended onto NBC series in Huawei which in contrast to sorrowful which ran 5 seasons, Huawei was which they call on & gone. I want to say 7 episodes, I think we were in the middle of shooting episode 8 when I went to work out when the network was put into plugs so I had my-it was sort of education- when I got on NBC show I said ok I made it, I am on the network. Sorrowful was great experience & great for my career but it was like a premium table show, I think it was like 10 pm on Tuesdays or Wednesdays where’s Huawei was 8pm in premium time on a major network. Well this is great the exposure is gonna be tremendous & I am basically off to the races now as TV writer this is what I do. Then the next thing you know, you know Huawei premiers to let them discover writings & the writing was one the wall no one intended almost from day one. So we sort of struggle for the show to make to work to make last
Ashley: As writer on the show did you guys have a sense that it wasn’t working? Or you thought it was good but the audience just wasn’t getting it?
Eric: somewhere in between, I think that for my money I think that the show sometimes, but what I’ve come up with along the years that the first season show sometimes struggles because everyone involved has opinion of what the show would give & what it is supposed to be; the show runner, the writers, the actors, even the crew the network in all of this at a time tries to give the show what it is & some shows survive that early process & some shows don’t. I thought like a while that a good show is on its way to becoming a good show even if not a good show. As whatever is going to happen, you’re in the writer’s room & pitching all of these ideas & you’re breaking stories & then the episodes got shut you’ll be back to the writer’s room & say that’s not quite the ideal that we thought we pitched in what we wrote. It’s close but not quite it but things sometimes take a while to jail & I honestly feel like writing episode 8 or 9. It might be episode 8 that got the edit back, it was the first episode that I honestly felt like ok this is the show that we wrote we’re beginning to now, everybody is finding their grew & the show is becoming what it always meant to be but by that it was too late, so I really believe that if the show have given a longer run the audience would have found it but we were at that point-it’s even worse now than it was then- but you’d better get a home run you first run episode you are in a trouble & everybody involved knows it.
Ashley: yeah… So let’s move on to private practice how did you do that?
Eric: I have written a pilot because things were shifted, the calling call for writers used to, really be strong specs for an existing show. Someone along the row, I don’t know how these decisions get made but somewhere along the way the TV guide decided that nobody need to read specs any more. The only how got to read was pilots because pilot script gives people a much clearer idea of what you places as a writer. If you write a really good game of throne specs or mad men specs it might me a good a script but people might have come to that you’re just imitating the voice of that show. So people will read novels, they’ll read a play, other read short story but one of the best ways to gather someone attention to write & so that yes you can write a television is writing a pilot. So pilots called liberators & basically appeared a piece about the women who built the b24 from Henry Ford in world war 2. Any way that script I had submitted, wrote & send out to my agents- much of considered consideration- in a one year later the script got a lot of attention, many people liked it & it was sort of echo of the experience that I had with relative stranger script in that people liked the quality of the writing because it was a world war period piece & it wasn’t like anything that was currently on TV. Nobody quiet knew if that meant that I’d be good for any of the existing shows. I went to the business a little bit because I needed a job & on a complete wem one day I decided to submit that same pilot the often film festival because they have a very strong component as festival as screen writing & TV writing. They had a one hour drama pilot category that was sponsored by EMC networks & I thought I am not really big an writing contests because it just hadn’t played a part of my career, but I am really proud of this script & it literally just be sitting & it gonna cost me what 30 or 40 boxes of minute. I sent it in & completely forget about it & a couple of month later I got an email saying congratulations you’re a semi-finalist. I said that’s a great, a sort of affirmation for the script & then a month later I got a phone call saying you’re a finalist & then I got to the top ten. I got to the top 10 & only then that I began to really pay attention to what was going on with this contest, it actually go just like I am moving from Atlanta to Allay thinking that this feature will gonna bring a new project then it brought me to be here. I felt I wanted to attend that festival just the top ten that I went out of thousands of submissions ended up winning the first prize.
Ashely: wow congratulations!
Eric: what was really good so that script ended up being sent to Shine Dryan company, & I met with shine, had a great meeting with them & I knew that there was an opening in practice & had written anything in the medical ban before but my pilot was fairly soapy & relation driven so it might be a good piece. In the meeting they loved the script & then I was offered job in hyper practice. Unfortunately it is that show final season but it still it was a good experience being part of that camp during the time that I was.
Ashley: that’s a great story I didn’t realize podcasts like that would allow professionals who had earned their leaving from writing to enter but I guess they don’t have any kind of requirement or…
Eric: apparently not, but when I studied the rules you’re right some don’t allow people who has ex no of credits or if you earn x no of dollars as a writer then you’re automatically not eligible but it doesn’t the case…
Ashley: I think it’s a great story & I think lot of writers with your experience at that point would almost felt that they were too good to enter a contest so that’s are good story that you went out there & did it.
Eric: you have correct at that I’ve tried but never had the attitude for anything but like I said I submit the script & one of the many things that I have learned all over the years, you got a meeting, you got a job interview, you send your work it’s unhealthy to sit by the phone every single day or checking your email waiting for the response or you really can do is put your best in forward sting for defenses then going to your business so you get to almost expect you won’t get it. I literally sent the script off & I put it out of head & focused on much of other things then the next thing I knew that the script kept moving closer & closer to the top 10 until it finally won. Winning the contest then my agent boast, when he sends the script out he says by the way this script won….& that moves it closer to the top of people meeting piles as a postwho getting stuck somewhere in the middle or at the bottom so…
Ashely: all over the years I’ve knew a bunch of people at the road who did this drama shows, some warriors in there. I think it was mad TV because a bunch of stand up committee was dying for that. I wonder just go through the three shows that you’ve been stuffed on & can you give a sort of the genual gesa, it shouldn’t be a scientific draft on but just adjust of what’s the background of these writers, what did they come from, it’s people thinking , what’s a good way to position themselves & how to allow those get those stuffed jobs.
Eric: a thing to keep in mind when you’re looking for work as a writer is to try to identify whatever it is about yourself that’s unique. I am a great writer because you can rest for sure that everybody on the stuff is there because they’re a good writer. That putting so much levels to make deal, beyond that you must have something else that sort of you enrich or you’re a calling card. It wasn’t so much basically it was a black family drama so there wasn’t a specific need that he must be black to right for the show it wasn’t that kind of qualification. It was the matter of being a strong writer & having a strong point of view about relationships& family & things like that help a lot. But there wasn’t that specific thing that you think when you look at the stuff because it wasn’t like a legal show or medical show would have you. On Huawei there was one writer who had a legal background. They were editing police procedure show, we always have people in the room who could comment on the legal procedure aspect of whatever the crime case of the week was. How to practice a license on stuff in the room, every single day & in cases where you don’t have to have any of that medical show, so you gonna have the most out land rare medical cases that she can come up with. So in cases where we would come up with a story, that we were quite sure about, as far as the proactivity of the medicine, we have a few different doctors who specialize in one area or another who we could call on as consultants & say here’s what we’re thinking of doing, is that complete that we as writers have ended it up, anything for something who had the particular medical condition & walk with the symptoms & they would give us information so you go back to the story true as possible. Actually just a back track on a second on sorrowful. Sorrowful was a story of 3 sisters, one of those sisters was a lawyer. There was a lawyer on stuff for the majority of sorrowful run who once again tells an everybody if someone pitch. Completely I have left the & clearly affirmed the writers’ imagination or if it was bounded in reality after we could possibly use it as a story for the show so there was that & then actually that was c4 written for because I am currently writing on a show call empire that wanna air on fox starting in January. Empire is basically another sorrow, second world hip hop & on the music & it was created by Lee Daniels & Daniel Strong who did the film the Potter. In this instance having a background, having directed & produced rap & ordinary videos ended up a nice lag up for me in terms of getting considered for that job. Other people who either have music background or they’ve written for shows where a music type them so you don’t have to entire path. If you are writing for just as an example if you are writing for the good why assuming that the stuff isn’t 100% liars, they have 1 or two that are honest full time. But you do want people to come from a variety of backgrounds, some people may have kids, some people may not have kids, some are single, some are married, you bring all those of quite different experiences to ever show what you’re writing but it does help. It’s pretty essential to have at least one if not two people in the room counting who had lived to certain degree in the world you are writing about.
Ashley: let’s pop head to your feature film, that you just directed 4 parts. Can you just tell is how did that started & how did you raise the money? I got a lot screen plays say I want to make film independently, so you are raising the moneys seems to a big question like it always meant. Can you tell us about & how did you get it go?
Eric: yeah the money is always an obstacle, it’s the issue that everybody faces. 4 parts is romantic drama it’s feature film about a married couple who was sort of having a long slump in the bedroom so they decide to spice things up & get weekend by having a one night span with another couple & the film deals with all sort of emotional entanglements & new romantic feelings the pop up as a result of them taking that step. Basically all the complications begin the morning after the big night, we follow all of these characters as they rustle with consequences & their actions. Like I said a course of money is always an obstacle. Actually when I had my little money in between writing my shows I said to myself I am not getting any younger & I came to Allay with the intend of writing & directing features. So one of the constant thing about my career meeting people who have helped getting to where I am & I’m always thankful to them. But one thing that was constant I was never the type of step & wait for a permission to take a step or to do something like I began doing music videos on my own with no guiding me or giving me the sort of ups & downs of the career. I began to produce relative stranger on my own with my own money because rather than to wait for somebody to come a long & give permission to do it I just wanted to do it then what happened from time to time that when I started something on my own it attracts more attention & more contacts & end up giving further career wise & creatively than I would have if I just came around waiting for all the stars to line up perfectly to make a move. So in 4 parts I am gonne apply the same philosophy & procedure so 4 parts was 100% self -financed & of course they say don’t use your own money I understand why they say that but I honestly feel like I could have spent 5 years running around Los Anglos trying to increase money from investors or crowd funding or trying to pull their money or give 100,00$ or whatever, I said I am no the type to sit & wait. If I had gone the ambassador round, actually a bunch of people had said no & then what I’ll make a movie. That’s a realistic option so I did the foolish thing invested my own money. I wanna go back to an actor Candy wit Handson who was one of the stars at sorrowful. He has done a bunch of movies & some TV Show , he got books out & bunch of stuff then I said you know what I wrote the main character of the film with him in mind. I would never get him because he was outside my price range, no money to make that. Then I said what he can obviously do is say no& so I called him up said look I am doing this project trying to get my feature film career off the ground excuse I have no money low budget project but I really think you’d like the script. So could you at least read it I’ll appreciate it. And in my mind I am thinking he would read it he’ll give an economical cope that I can’t meet. I will say thank you for considering it, I would like outside for my least actor. But at least I know for myself that I defended. He took the script loved it & said that he wanted to come on board as a producer & help you the rest of your path so once again & I don’t say that at all it was another example you start pushing the rock up the hill that’s the best way to get people get it seriously because I wasn’t hanged to say yes or no it’s like the movie happen one way or the other it’s gonna happen on a level with you & on a smaller level without you. You don’t say that to people but they basically can tell from your energy level, enthusiasm & the facts you’re getting to pieces & to motion they can tell this is a movie I can get on board or not get it’s already moving.
Ashley: they always say hustlers can take that & I think there’s something to that…
Eric: you feel like they’re responsible for getting your project going. They wanna know that even if you have no money np prospect no marketing plan if you’re doing things all the wrong way at least you aren’t hanging the success or failure or whatever you’re doing making a film, short film, writing a script, doing a web series because nobody want to feel like when you come to this guy or woman & they are waiting for me to say yes or no of the whole project. Like they wanna feel they’re doing something I want to have on board & hustle is very contagious.
Ashley: what’s going on with the film? Have you guys found producer, have you submitted to film festival?
Eric: all festival a bout a year troubling around to New York, New jersey , Orlando San Francisco & at Allay playing had said no her in Allay about film festival, we had about a year on the film festival network circuit& we ended up giving picked up. We actually this past June about 6 weeks or 7 we were released on a DVD & a video on demand so it was available at a red box & wall mark & i-tunes & amazon. So it’s available so it’s one of those things that was one in a million long shut but we made independent feature film & put it out there & got really positive response. So again like I said earlier I will from time to time get crossed by people saying I am a film maker, I wanna get the ball run in my career. Do you have any advice for me? & my advices make a film I know that sounds really over simplistic & I am not say who I literally liked it as far as for her, I wrote it, I coproduced with them I directed it, I was the editor I was the one who let it once again, I had the support a great stuff & a great crew but I was the one who was there pushing the road over the hill. The last majority of time, editing in the middle of the night, coming home from being at the writer’s room at private practice coming home…& editing one scene before you go to bed like you came together step by step so people ask me who to make a film it’s like you know what cameras & editing software are cheap. It’s not like in the mid- 90s we had to raise 35mm film budget & do a work print & do all that stuff. I don’t suggest making a feature film on your i-phone but you could & it’s good. Someone must know this, so I give a very sort of resistance to people who don’t seem to appreciate & I don’t want to seem like an old man. But I don’t like people who don’t appreciate the fact that everything is there for you all you have to bring to the table talent & perseverance. If you aren’t able to stay to 2 in the morning editing your project, if you want someone to say here’s your road map this is what you have to do then you’ll be successful. That’s like nobody can sell you that nobody can guarantee success but you won’t have anything if you sit waiting for the stars to fill the place & then you make a move. Like you can’t afford 100,000 feature film, you can afford 10,000 short film, if you cant afford that you can afford 5,000 short film. I know people how make feature films with 6,000 $ & put them directly to i-tunes & make their profit back . I am not just doing it the possibility of fracking it rich because chances are you wont but once again you wont get anywhere if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to provide you with step by step road map
Ashley: for sure, I get these from people who haven’t taken any time to really master their crafts & everyone wants that silver plate. Let’s talk about the numbers in this film if you don’t mind. You sound that got more red box, there’s a look you are gonna make your money back
Eric: it’s a long fast, what happens is that you get that vast from the distributer, they basically don’t buy any license or for a certain period of time reviews. Everything the distributer does from the time that they acquire film, they designed poster, they cut the trailer, paid for the manufacturing of the bb & all the DVDs out worked. All those charges they have to retook before the movie becomes profitable & because we are so early in the process & basically you’ll get quarterly reports saying this is how many DVDs we sold last quarter, this how many downloads we sold last quarter, latterly in the first quarter of the film release; we hit the breakeven point but it may take ten years or it may take six months I have no clue there’s no way for me to guess because until those reports begin coming in.
Ashley: yeah, so you & I met through script mag, this podcast get sent on script mag & you often write a column there so can you tell us a little bit about your column & that was a straight way to help people to contact you. Tell us about your column & some of things you’ve done there on script mag…
Eric: yeah, the column & the blog on script mag is called writer’s room 101 & I actually got approached by Genie, one of the editors at script mag who actually…she & I known each other primarily through tweeter & she liked that sort of like the tone of my tweets like could speak about anything from tweeting a movie to my thoughts on a TV show & she said that we looked for someone who can blog about TV writing in the aspect that it’s up to you, whatever you want to do you can & I thought about it for a while & actually to be honest when she first approached me I said no & the reason why I said no because I am very fearful of positioning myself as some sort of notal, I have done a lot things & I am getting to business for a while but I am still have feeling of I have a long way to go & a lot to learn & there are other TV writers who have a tone more experience than I do & they make themselves fairly accessible to social media. So I don’t want to pop myself to some sort of pad-stow that I am on their level so I said no. when you come back with it later & struggle the blog want to have you, I think you’d be great so I thought about it more & said you know what I do have a little bit of knowledge in this area that I can share so why not as long as I can find a way to address my concern of not coming of handing the rules of the industry down from heaven on the book. So I will do that if you want them & I came up with the idea when I started writing at TV that mention while I got here, I didn’t really have anybody as a mentor getting the does & not & I had to learn by making a lot of mistakes & I said would it be nice if someone could, if take this blog in the direction of telling people the things that I wish someone had told me when I first started out so hence the name writers-room 101. If you are an extremely experienced television writer so the blog probably means nothing to you other than you may recognize something a little bit familiar in it but the blog was really for people who either are looking to break in to writing for TV or may they already there for their first show & they’re there in the writer’s room not fully sure of all the does & don’ts like a sort of a practical guide, all things that I found people would do is to talk about things in the very sort of fear the way & what I wanted to do was to get people very actionable, hands on pieces of information that you can use when you’re virtually in any writer’s room. It gotten a fairly good response but it has only been about I have only posted four columns so far but based on the responses that I have got was up to a pretty good start.
Ashley: I am not a TV writer neither do I aspired to be TV writer. I just read & thought it was really interesting so if just purely for entertainment. I think it’s definitely worth checking out. So what’s the best way for people to keep up with you & follow you. You can tell us may be your tweeter handle & mention your website, anywhere people can contact you.
Eric: yeah, the best to get a hold of me or follow me is definitely tweeter. My tweeter handle is at Eric_Haywood. I am also on Facebook under my normal name although I am not on Facebook nearly as much as I am on tweeter. If you wanna any information about me, any further detail you can get on my website Erichaywood.com all my short films are up there, some of my music video work. So for those who are curious it’s all there.
Ashley: Perfect…I’ll link all that in the show notes so if somebody is in the car & listen to our podcast, go to the show notes & I have directed the links. What if we give me quick plug to your movie, it’s called 4 parts & what’s the best you for people to find that while watching
Eric: You can find the four parts, the four parts have a tweeter account that one is at-four-hearts-film but for the film itself Amazon, so buying bb is best way to help struggling independent film maker who has to work even on his own investment. So amazon either you got a bb, you can rent it, you can trim it to amazon as instant video. I-tunes you can even go online to wall-marts or bryans & nobel any of those. You can also order a bb, you can also pick up a red box
Ashley: Perfect, well you have been very generous for your time. This has been a run-over but a lot of great information. I really appreciate that you have given all that time specially on Saturday to talk to me.
Eric: you’re welcome, thank you for having me.
If you are looking for an depth analysis on your screen play by industry professional. I work with several script consultants. Check out www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com/consultants. All the consultants listed at that page have years of experience actually working in the entertainment industry. Right now we have a real working producer who would give you notes on your script & to screen writers with real screen writing credit these guys are real pros not grow rules professional consultants, they’re people who actually do work in the business. So if you’re looking for high quality notes on your script Check out www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com/consultants
In this week’s writing words conception, I wanna highlight something that Eric did if you listen to a few episodes of this podcast you probably know exactly what I am gonna talk about. There are so many new writers that would think that once they get an agent or sell their first script or get stuffed on TV show that it got smooth sailing from there. Unfortunately it’s not that simple, I cant tell you how many actors & writers I have met all over the years who had some success but now really struggle to find work. It’s business even as long as I have been doing this. I was surprised that he entered his script into the awesome film festival but that lately got him a job as a stuff writer this really goes to that no matter how success you had, you have always had to be out there marketing & trying to make things happen for yourself. I love that he didn’t sit waiting for an agent to call him, he was out there trying stuff, trying to get something to hit. That’s really good story & I people would get that to heart. I have recorded this interview a couple of weeks ago right after I talked with Eric, I went to the awesome film festival website to see if I can enter a screen play. Submissions are already closed for this year but next year no matter where am I in my career I am gonna enter this contest. And I think everyone out there listening to this need to try to expand their marketing efforts as much as possible. No matter where you are in your career there’s always things you could be doing to get your scripts about there & do more in the market.
Coincidently someone from the awesome film festival emailed me last week & offered to give listeners of the podcast 25% discount if they’re planning on attending the festival. I had never been there. But I have heard it’s a really a great time. It’s very writer center festival so if you could fit into your schedule. I’d highly recommend that you’d go. The copine code is sys25, just use that when you’re buying your pass during the check-out process. The festival takes place from October 23 to 30th. I will post the copine code in the show notes in case you want to find it later on.
That’s our show, thanks for listening!