This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 090: Screenwriter Tyler Hisel Talks About His New Film Dark Was The Night.
Selling Your Screenplay Podcast – #90
(Typewriter Keys Tapping)
Ashley: Welcome to episode 90 of “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Tyler Hisel, he wrote a horror thriller script called, “Dark Was the Night.” The movie was recently produced and we talked through his early days in Hollywood as a screenwriter. And then we specifically talk about how he got this project made. So, stay tuned for that.
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A quick couple of notes, any notes or link to websites that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog or in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you would rather read the show or look something up later on. You can find all the Podcast show notes on – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcasts. And then just look for episode #90.
I just want to mention to that a webinar that I am doing on Wednesday September 30th 2015. Basically, redoing the webinar that I did in August. I had a lot of people who were not able to attend. So I’m going to do the exact same webinar again. And it’s going to be a live event. So I will be taking questions. People can ask questions of me answering them. The webinar is called, “How to Effectively Market and Sell Your Screenplay.” I’m going to go through all the various elements and online channels that are available to screenwriters. Giving you my opinion on them and of them. I get questions all the time, like, does the “Black List” work? Does “Ink-Tip” work? Which contests should I enter? I’ve tried pretty much every marketing channel available to screenwriters. And I’m going to give you my unfiltered opinion on each one. And tell you which ones have worked for me? Again, this webinar is completely free, don’t worry about if you can’t attend the last event. I’ll be recording this event, and send it out in a recorded version after words. So sign-up even if you can’t attend, you will still have access to it. To sign-up go to –
www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. And the words, “Free webinar” is all lower case letters and all one word. I will of course leave a link to it in the show notes as well.
A quick few words about what I am working on. As I talked about last week on the Podcast, I had a bunch of meetings this week, this past week. With producers, actors and even a distributor, in an effort to try and get my script, my show script moving forward. I think I have all the pieces in place? To go out and shoot the teaser trailer and do the kick-start campaign video. So, this week I’m gonna work on getting that all scheduled? Hopefully, putting that in the next few weeks? And then I’ll get the kick-starter campaign posted. I had a real long and interesting talks with some distributors. And these guys were the international distributors from my “Ninja Apocalypse.” A movie I did a few years ago. And it was interesting just hearing their opinions on what movies seemed to be working in the market. And it’s really not at all intuitive of, one of the movies that was recently distributed? A movie that I interviewed the writer right here on this Podcast. And it, when I saw it, it seemed like a perfectly good movie. But I honestly didn’t think it had a lot of international prospects. I didn’t think they would find a good distribution on this thing? And they were very, very, positive on it. So, completely baffled, it completely baffled me? In terms of trying for others, from my stand point. In trying to predict what movies are actually going to work in the marketplace, and what aren’t? So, it’s just an interesting conversation, they are very nice guys. And they actually agreed to come on the Podcast. So, it’s not going to be them in the next week or two? But hopefully in the next few weeks out? I will interview them and I will get a Podcast episode out with those guys. Because it’s just fascinating to hear them talk about what is working and what is not working in what movies you want? And it’s an ever changing landscape, and that’s one of the things I’ve always? I’ve had several meetings with them over the last few years. And I always leave, sort of just, not really sure why I should be writing? And frankly, as distributors, they’re not entirely sure, no “Slam Dunks.” That’s one of the things they kept emphasizing. There is no movie that you can make, that you just, “Know it.” Will make money. Unless you really sort of get to that top tier where you’re talking about, like a, Sci-fi action thriller with Bruce Willis. Most of these sort of low-budget independent movies. A lot of them don’t do well. And some of them do, and there is now always a way of predicting it? So, anyway, I think that will be in the Podcast. Keep it, an eye out for that, as they say? And hopefully that will be in the next month or two?
So, but the big thing I did last week was a nice writing assignment that came into me. It was actually one of the directors I interviewed on this Podcast. I actually knew him, I actually interviewed him on this Podcast. He’s in my Email and fax blast list. And a couple of months ago. I Emailed him, along with everybody else on my list. And said, “Hey, I’m putting together a newsletter for producers to do a monthly newsletter for producers to see log-lines from SYS-Select Screenwriters.” And I’ve talked about this on the Podcast as well. So I Emailed all through my list of producers. And he actually was actually on the list and he Emailed me back and said, “Hey, good to hear from you.” He remembered me from the Podcast interview. And he told me he was working on a project. And could I potentially help him with a project he was working on? I said, “Sure.” And with him, he had an idea, I think? I think it’s a good idea actually. Somethings are a good idea as well, so. It was an interesting idea. But he just didn’t think he could get it done quickly enough. So, we just kinda put it on the back burner. I haven’t heard from him in a couple, few weeks. And last weekend I, he popped up and called me. And said, “Listen, I’m ready to go into production.” He had a bunch of production things in place, but he doesn’t have a script. But he’s over here, he’s putting this thing together. He has an idea. So basically, he wanted me to write it, a full length feature film script to start his idea. Basically I said, he had about 15 sentences of it? I would say three paragraphs, but? The three sentences he Emailed to me. And then he said, “Hey, do you think you could turn it, this into a full length feature film? And really in less than a week, because he sent it to my over the weekend. And we talked last Monday. And, you know, by the time we came to an agreement? So I was going to work on this, it was a Tuesday. And it, so basically I had, you know, basically six days really? Yes, six days to write a feature film script. So that’s what I did last week? Needless to say, it was a busy week. It was, just pumping this thing out, turning it, this 15 sentence synapsis into a nice feature film script.
I feel he has, a lot of production elements in place, which is kind of why this is a big rush. He’s got, he’s ready to shoot something now. He’s got financing, he’s got some actors in place, and he’s got a location, so he wanted to kind of strike while the iron’s hot. But he got a script. So, that’s where I came in, I wrote up this script. It was an interesting experiment? Just, I’ve never written a script in six days from start to finish. “Ninja Apocalypse” was a script I wrote very, very quickly, but? They had a very detailed outline when I got that assignment. So a lot of it was almost like transcribing and formatting. There was some creative choices to be made, but it was a different kind of assignment. As I said, they came to me with like a ten or twelve page treatment that I just fleshed out into a full length script, and I had more time to do it. I had three weeks with “Ninja Apocalypse.” This, it was a little bit under fifteen sentences all the way out to a feature film script. And as I said, it was an interesting experiment. Forcing yourself to continue to write and write and write. You just, you don’t have time to sit there and ponder the questions? Of a lot of the choices you’re making, you just don’t have time to ponder them. You just have to make the choices you can. You make the best choices you can, and go with it? The first day I spend two days, basically, trying to come up with an outline. And I really didn’t have? By the end of two days I didn’t have firm outline? But I had the characters, it’s a kind of an ensemble piece. And each character has a nice little arc. So I came up with those six, I guess maybe five characters? And sort of figured out what they’re arcs are all about, and are? So that was kind of the loose part of it. You know, I started writing, so at the end of the day, Tuesday I had seven pages done. I had kind of a very loose outline and seven pages. Then on Wednesday, I basically wrote another twenty pages, so that got me to thirty pages. Thursday, on Thursday it was by far the hardest day! It was by far an absolutely brutal day, and I don’t quite know why? It was twenty, I wrote twenty five pages, so I got from page 30 to 55, and it was rough. I had a PTA meeting at my five year old daughter’s kindergarten. I mean, I was absolutely beat mentally. You’re not seeing this? You’re mentally tired, but it was just really rough mentally. But anyway, so then Friday, as I said, I was on page 55 by then. By the end of the day Thursday. And then Friday I get up, and I felt like I was just in pretty good shape. And basically I knew I was, what I knew I had left to write, sort of the third act, page 55 to about 70ish, 75ish. I knew that third act would be to get me to where I’d have a rough draft of the script within the next, page 55 to page 75 or so? I knew I would get a rough draft of a script. And that’s pretty much what I did. And writing that third act on Friday was a very, I didn’t wind up writing more than 25 pages. A very easy day, I think all those choices has been a made a part of mentally fatiguing. Taking the choices where it has on Friday, it has making the choices as much as paying off. Which the choices I had made, so, it was just a little. A function of forcing myself to sit there at the keyboard constantly and just type out words and get to the end of it. So, that’s just what I did, I got page 61-75 by page 80 by the end of the day on Friday. And I had a full rough draft. I had actually gone back and started to polish up through the first thirty pages. So I got through those last, as I said, my rough draft was about 75 pages. So I went from 55 to 75, about twenty pages. And then I started back at the front of the script. I continued to write through about the first act on Friday noon. Writing and polishing the first act, and then over the weekend. I then started to polish the rest. And then read through it yesterday. And then did a final polish yesterday and Sunday. And the script is 86 pages. I mean, the thing is amazing, and I’m really curious how the director takes it? I might prepare and present some of it to my writers group. I’m anxious to see how they get it? Is, I don’t think it’s that bad? I actually think it’s pretty good.
And the one thing I’ll say is, the concept, the idea it had. It’s a drama, and one of the things I find always find difficult in a thriller? You have to really sit there and think about, is sort of a clues, the thriller, or you have the thrills, and the surprise and the mystery of it. And those things, at least for me take quite a bit of time. Whereas straight drama, you know, character arts is more about plotting, you set-up the characters, you. It just seems like an easier process than it is of it? Sense, I find action fairly easy. This is pretty much an action movie. A lot of fighting, and I find that pretty straight forward. And again, it’s more of a function than writing. So, I don’t know? As I said, on Thursday, I thought, oh man, I’ll never do this again. But by Friday, it really wasn’t so bad. I just, I hadn’t done a full script and said these days, I don’t know if it’s a function of just getting through this first couple of pages is rough? But when you’re pretty much into smooth sailing. Because that’s pretty much what it was, two pretty tough days, and especially Thursday. But then Tuesday wasn’t that bad, because there wasn’t that much writing. Mostly, you know, pacing around my house writing that out, pad and plotting that out. And then once I had that rough draft, as I said this past weekend, Saturday/Sunday. It was just a matter of going through and rewriting and tweaking, and polishing, and those were not to terribly hard days. So, I don’t know, could I keep that up? Keep pumping out a script a week, all fifty scripts a year? That’s a tall order, but a, it wasn’t that bad. I would try it again. And I would almost a half a mind to just to come up spending a month doing an act or outline. Just leisurely do an outline, and spend a week just ripping a whole script out. Because you really get a lot done. As I said, I’m curious to see how people take this, but my guess? Is people will think this is just as good as anything else I’ve written? Even though I wrote it in six days, as opposed to some of these other scripts where I spend some six months on. Apparently a lot of people think this is much better? Some people think this is good or whatever? So, anyways, that’s what I’m working on. I’m waiting for the director, I sent it to him late last night. He gets some stuff like this recording early in the morning, so I haven’t heard from him. Hopefully I will hear from him soon. I’m hoping he doesn’t want a whole bunch of changes? The way he was talking, he’s got going on production pretty quickly. So I don’t think he’s gonna have it, a ton of time to make a whole lot of revisions. Hopefully, he’ll like it and be ready to move on it and then we’ll go into production. As I said, from talking to him it sounds like he’s pretty serious about it, actually getting this thing into production quickly. So, hopefully that will happen?
Okay, so now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing Tyler Hisel, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Tyler to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Tyler: I appreciate you having me.
Ashley: So, maybe to start out, maybe you could give us a little bit about your background? You know, how you got interested in film making? How would you eventually break in and get to the point where you wrote this feature film?
Tyler: Sure, sure, sure. Absolutely. I a, you know, I’m a writer from Lexington Kentucky. So I am a Midwest guy. I was the guy who just I think, like a lot of us working in the industry grew-up loving movies, loving television.
And grew-up, you know, as a kid just making movies, you know, on mini DVD. Any camera I could get my hands on growing-up. A little school in high school. And you know, I thought, you know, there’s a lot of people initially. I knew I wanted to direct. I thought that was my pact, you know. And then I was making these movies, I was directing these movies. I was writing out of necessity, you know, you have to have something to share, when you’re out making films. And so I got into college pursuing that, university, a small private university back here in Kentucky on that pact. I’m part of that degree, was to spend a semester in Los Angles. So I set up a ring in Los Angles film studies. Which is kind of like a semester abroad for these Midwest schools. You know, they can’t necessarily do their own thing, they’re own program. But they all do it together all in this one place. And part of that was an internship. And so when I moved back to L.A. I knew this, that semester when I came out to L.A. For that summer intern, for that semester abroad kinda thing? That was going to be my transition period. I knew I wanted to move to L.A. I knew I wanted to take a run at it. And so, I came out with a script in my back pocket. Then the months preceding. That semester I knew enough to know, you know, that I didn’t want to start at zero. That I wanted to have, you know, I’d written some in the past. But I wanted something that I felt comfortable, was the quality to get my career started. So, I wrote a script that was a time called, “The Trees.” Which I think, ultimately become, “Dark as the Night.” After many years and many nights. The ups and downs we’ve finally gotten to the, “Promise Land.” Here. But, I had that in my back pocket. And so I moved it to L.A. and got an internship. At a company called, “Cullesen Entertainment.” And you know, Cullesen Entertainment did the “Fugitive” and “Seven” “Platoon” and I interned with them, graduated. And I moved through the life that year with a Honda Civic. That was right after college, and I think is as everyone does? You just do the hustle? You find a way to stop hemorrhaging money, because obviously that’s the way L.A. is? And so I was, my first job I knew, I needed a job, I’d just graduated. Before this semester’s up I need a job. Because I’m going to be back in three weeks. I’ve got to have some form of income. So, my first job in L.A. was loading people onto the census ride at “Universal Studios” Right? So,
Ashley: That was my first job, was at Universal as well, except I was in, “Show Control.” Yeah, ushering the people. Back then it was the “Flintstones Show”
Tyler: Really, that sounds like it had a lot more dignity than what I was doing? I had like this out dated.
Ashley: I was telling Japanese tourist, they weren’t allowed to sit in the handicapped sides. And they still, “No English?”
Tyler: That’s funny. I was so miserable, you should see these things? They had these cherry, candy stripped, red and white clown outfits. It was the worst. And so, finally, some commonality. So, yeah, I was doing that, and then, you know, from the university, you could see the law. I was like, okay, I could at least see, it was like, the business I wanted to work in. And shortly thereafter, I started your background I think? I was an actor/extra, you know? I think I just figured out how could I get on sets, you know? How could I just soak all this stuff up while writing at night? Ya, know? How could I do that? So, till I started with them, with central casting. And I did that then. And, you know, what that allowed. Only what I needed to do, one be on sets and just kind of absorb. And two I did something you were probably not supposed to do? Which was I would find and snag the ID on every show I went to. And I would send them my resume and I would say, well, you know, I’m a hard worker, I’m going to do whatever, for an extra PAB. You know, keep me in mind. And finally that started happening. And then so I was working, you know, I was working in the industry. And again, mine on nights on the same trip. I was out all night just polishing this, it was called, “The Trees.” At the time, and finally I could, I got a phone call from the Assistant that I had worked under as an intern, “Hopeless Entertainment.” Who was leading the desk and was calling to see if he could put me up with a gig? I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” And the other night, you know, night, well, 9-5, 9-7 whatever the hours were going to be? But a regular paycheck, and I asked him? And he didn’t mean to be even sure? Development that’s closer to what I wanted to do anyway, as a writer. And so I started there. And worked at “Hopeless Entertainment” in it for a couple of years. On a desk, and it was during that time that just weird happenstance things? I was, we had just moved offices. From Century City, up to Sherman Oaks. And our phone numbers had changed, and so I got an Email from a literary manager, a guy by the name of, “Alexander Rob.” He was looking for his phone number? Again, one of those things you’re not supposed to do, but I said, “Hey, you know,” after we went back and forth a bit. I guess I’ll let you know, I’m a writer, you’re a literary manager you looking for anything? Here’s a spec. I just completed called, “The Trees.” How will we trip by and he shot me back an Email and said, “Hey, you know, I’d love to grab coffee, and talk about the script.” And, from that, talked a little about and he was working on some other projects. And talked about a TV pilot at the time? And, but from those conversations, and from “The Trees.” Then from that pilot, he brought me on, and he started representing me. And Alex is still my manager today. So, that was kinda like the first moment of kinda like? Okay, now I’ve got my feet underneath me, to a bit, to a degree. And from there, you know. A lot has happened since then, that was kinda, how do you get from zero to at least like. You could see the door, maybe you’re not in the door yet? But you can at least see the door.
Ashley: Let’s hit it, let’s touch on a couple a more details of what you just said? How many years was this? Okay, so you’ve graduated from college. You’ve moved to L.A. and you finally get a literary manager. How many years went through before you got that literary manager?
Tyler: From when I landed in L.A., and I was fairly fortunate then, things happened quick. As it was off of that first script. So I had a manager, I don’t know? I found a manager within I’d say, a year of being in a write full time. And so, you know, again, it was just amazed on that same script. The units received a lot of, well, you don’t want to revise too much. Not to mention that’s true. You know, like, you don’t to keep going back to the same material over and over again, if there isn’t much life in it. But I can kinda held that script back, “The Trees.” Until I knew it was ready. It wasn’t something that I was constantly trying to a, make out of it? I just waited until it, it took me a couple of years, till I felt like? This script is good enough. And so they, I started having conversations so very quickly that I had after that relationship came up. So,
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So this a little bit about these movies is just sounds like you were doing original sort of short home movies, before you were even out of college? So, I mean, maybe you could describe that a little bit, I mean, was this sight basically a cam-quarter and friends acting and light. Maybe you could talk sort of about some of the lessons and logistics of doing it and the lessons you learned from that experience?
Tyler: Sure, sure. Yeah, yeah, no. You know, I have an academy of these films that I. You know a lot of them allowed to shoot more genre pieces you know? A, short thrillers, my family back in Northern Kentucky. They have this old farm house, you know, this farm land, near where I grew-up, my father grew-up. This house, since it’s far and fell into terrible disrepair. So it was this fantastic, creepy, old farm house. So you have things like this where, let’s just kinda make a movie of that. You know, once you put two guys, who I go to high school with. Put them in a movie, put them in situation itself? It was a lot of that, ya know? That movie was called, “Static.” And like TV it had a whole lot of static on it. But it was fun, it was like, we were making movies. And it was like, we got into some tiny film festival. You walk in and it was like, all this, you know, we were getting closer to. And this feels like, you know, something that is real. And through that I mean, again, like you a set of writing it was out of necessity at that time. And so it was exactly like what you talked about, what you learned. It’s like, okay, let’s learn about logistics of life. I could put this on paper, how much, I’m going to execute this, you know? And all in all location and how that felt and all through it. And now suddenly you were right, a production, you know. Ya, gotta have new pages before the weekend. Because we’re ready to shoot, and it is. So, you do, you learn a lot I think. Initially from just hearing your works, seen you perform and hearing them sell out here, you know? That’s something that everybody should strive for. Whether it’s in short film or in, you know, you’ve got a writers group, or you’ve got some way to, round tabling stuff, you learn a lot. Just by hearing words spoken aloud. The things you get work, I mean, don’t work. The things true to that, no actually that works. Let me think about that a bit more.
Ashley: So, now, where do we go? You are in high school shooting these things? And who are you getting as actors? Just other high school kids, you got a couple of adult to come in and do little roles?
Tyler: Right, right. Mostly it was friends, but some didn’t realize? Like there was, I think, you’ll see a lot of them, Midwest towns, is like they’re like everyone wants to act. And it’s hard, you know, people who want? You know, insurance agents want to act or whatever. Everyone can act, on the weekends. So, I finally, I found some casting, some online casting shortness. Or something like that, and I just started putting roles up there. Suddenly, “Hey, I’ve got some.” These guys aged up 23 years, to play a 40 year old, I have a four year old. And so, yeah. Initially it was like, okay, me and my buddy, and then the buddy is liable to do something or other? And then, it was like, okay, this is kinda like the realist thing we are in this town. And people will watch and work for you, and you also have the opportunity to make movies.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And you’re literally seventeen years old and directing these 40 year olds in these low-budget films.
Tyler: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think.
Ashley: I think that’s so good here, because I get so many letters and Emails from younger people. “Hey, you know, what can I do to get started?” I mean, this is just exactly like, if you’re seventeen and you want to be a Film Director? This is exactly what he should be doing. So this is great preparation.
Now let’s talk a little bit about you starting to get into some festivals. You know, how many festivals were you submitting to? And did that actually work into anything? Did you make some contacts? How did that start to go?
Tyler: I mean, not really. I through a lot of good money away. Oh, I’ll put this away, oh, I’m going to Palm Springs? No you’re not. Oh, so, you figure right? Its necessary kind of calibrate at any stage in your career. To go, where I think I am, but where I go actually. You know, let’s feel this out and go. Okay, I’m not there yet? Or maybe I’m doing better than I think I am, once. You know, so my feelings are running the gambit, you know, of it. Festivals in you know, the stuff we would ultimately get into. It was, you know, like some showcase. You know, non-competitive showcase in Manhattan or something like that? You know, again, you’re not in high school, you’re in freshman in college or something? Whatever, that’s a big deal, I had to go to New York and watch a movie on a screen, and you know. And that’s an important fuel I think. Because that’s the stuff, you know, I want more of that, you know? I want more of audiences sitting in a room and watching my stuff. You know, that’s what we do it for, you know.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so let’s dig deep into, “Dark Was the Night.” Maybe you could start to talk about that bad. And IMDB you have another credit listed, “Safari” which you also you wrote, which looks like another genre of film. So maybe you can take us through sort of, whatever your first option or sale is? Now that you have the point where you have a Literary Manager. You know after you got the Literary Manager, sort of walk us through your career? And what’s going on and what you’re doing?
Tyler: So, yeah, sure. I had a script that I was talking about, “The Trees.” Which would later become, “Dark is the Night.” With kind of cemented relationship with a Literary Manager. And at the same time. I had been working with a buddy of mine, on a project. A pilot, again it was just a spec. pilot. And that’s again, it’s like, one of those things, you know what? What are you doing writing a spec. pilot? You have a relationship with a producer at Warner. He was interning for this guy at Warner. And there was like, okay, maybe there was an opportunity that’s got to come on, read you know. I could get this read by somebody who’s legit or out of a studio with a deal. And so, you know, while I kinda finished up, “The Trees.” Just started shopping it out. I started writing on this pilot. That was at the time called, “The Brink” nothing to do with the HBO show now. It was, you know, something. It was this hostage stand-off on this Naval Destroyer, under construction in San Diego. Or it’s an editorial thing. And I knew, like a spec. and a pilot. You know, people are going to go, “Who is this kid?” Yikes, so I put like this 26 page bibles together alongside that shout it was like, what, every episode of this first season? You need to trust me, it’s all in the bank. And so I had that as well. It was just wrapping up on that. When I had those initial conversations, with my soon to be manager. And so he liked the script, “The Trees.” And you know, was interested in the property. And then when I had this other property that I just finished up. The pilot he had done as well. This time I went, well, okay, this is a full-fledged, you know, representation situation. You know, the guy can do more than one thing. One, you know, one decent script. And so a relationship sort of came out of that. And so, he you know, we did several months in development. He and I back and forth with, “The Trees” getting it to where, you know, we thought it needed to be.
And then it went out, in 2009 it went out. And it got, you know, a little interest here and there. And you know, it was one of those things, it had some people on. Oh, we’re going to make the movie, and then it just doesn’t happen after a while. And then a couple of months after that, I think it’s December? The list comes out, the script landed on 2009 “Black List.” And, you know, I can’t say enough. Actually for the list at that time, about what that list did, does for young writers. You know, the annual list, kind of like the website does. Except now, the annual list gives such a legitimacy to a young writer. At that point in my career, where you’re constantly relying on a Literary Manager. You know, where you’re constantly, everything’s out going. You’re knocking on doors, you’re the one they are going to call. Please take a meeting, please, you know, please move this thing, you know. And finally that changes the situation and those doors are finally opened. Calls are going the other way. Hey, there’s a script, it was on the Black List, writer, yeah, we’ll take the meeting. And so, you know, that was a situation changer. As far as that, and still to this day, you know. You see, you know, the article or anything like that will say, “Black List” writer. And I love that. And you know, that’s what it always says.
Ashley: Maybe you could explain the process a little bit of how this script ended up on, “The Black List?” I mean, I understand the manager, your manager is doing a good job just to get the script out there. But, is there anything that he did step special that kind of got you in the conversation of? Or did he just have enough pull with producers that you know. A vote on the “Black List.” So sort of what’s that process like?
Tyler: Well, I mean, my understanding of it is, the script goes out. Probably a month or two before the “Black List” vote age started. It’s still live readings that I was taking were right around the time of the voting. And for those who don’t know? “The Blacklist” they still do it this way. They will send out Emails to them, the roster of Hollywood executives they have. And they will say, “Hey, voting’s opened for the annual “Black List” give us your top. There are up to ten favorite scripts of the past year. It had to be unproduced scripts. And so they’ll fire back, a time is like an Email. I mean, it’s like a web forum back on the website. I’ll pick it up. And so I was having conversations, I mean this is a movie. You know, that I, for years, that I, especially started it. This time jokingly, kind of pitching it as a family drama that happens to be a creature film. You know, it’s a movie that doesn’t fit a lot of boxes. And so, when you look at “Black List.” Scripts. A lot of it is that, like oh, this is a project that, you know, people like. But how do you make it fulfilling , how do you make it, this thing, it’s like a feature film. But it’s not, you know, it’s more about this guy and his family. And you know, like, heck, how do you market that? And so, it was a script that, you know, was quirky. And not that it had a lot of fans? And so, when that list was around? You know, most people’s favorite script, that’s how a lot of them get made. But, quickly, you, “The Black List” is this catch-all of these quirky scripts best, that don’t fit the boxes. In, you know, tightly, but people like. Would love to have been honest in a way that was a mandate or whatever. And so, you know, you hear all these, you know. These issues of campaigning, and all that stuff with the “Black List.” At that point. We didn’t even have the means to that, you know. It’s just like, we’re just trying to get a fan, you know? No campaigning, it’s just a real, it’s just so far already today at that point. But yeah, you just have to, and it was a praise, and praise… And then I think, the day before “The Black List” comes out, my manager got in an Email from someone in Franklin’s office. And it was “The Black List.” I think it was still at Universal? And they were just confirming all the information on the screen script. And we were like, does that mean it’s on the list? Because the list comes out tomorrow. And so that was like one morning before rushing off to Denver. To fly out to see the movie. And I did, and it was a big moment for sure!
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That sounds, that’s great. Oh, so now take us through. You’ve made “The Black List.” You started to get out and have meetings. What was sort of the next step to actually optioning it? And then selling your first property?
Tyler: Yeah, well, that. That script had, it had bounced around for years. I mean, we’re in 2015 right now? Now that’s the script that got a lot of attention. The first thing I actually sold, was that hope I was talking about a little bit earlier. And so, we had a lot of conversations, out of “The Trees.” “Soon to be the Dark” with those producers. I had done some work here at there, but with this studio or that studio. But a lot of those conversations were addressing what I was talking about a little bit earlier. Okay, this studio is interested, but they want it to be more of a down the middle, you know, monster movie. They wanted it to be just more marketable. And so, it’s a fine line to walk. And sometimes you have to, as a writer you have to go, “Now look, that’s what we’re talking about. It’s a fine movie, I’m happy to write you guys a movie. But it may not be this movie?” You know, and so, that’s something every writer, you know, it’s hard. When you think, okay, money on the table here, you know. This is something that I wanted, but sometimes you have to go, “You know what? I don’t think this one will be the strongest version of this one, this movie.” So maybe we should go elsewhere with it? So, for a while, that seemed like that may have been a bad decision? It floated around for quite a while. And ultimately, “Independent Equity.” You know, was the conversation. Let’s do this independently. This was a scaleable movie. Written you know, as a everything that could have been done for $5 million dollars. But what does it look like at $10? You know, let’s start having conversations about that? Or else buy, let’s start having conversations with people who could do that? And I, in the meantime while all this was going on? I initially had a, and eventually switched agents, to my current agent, Kimmie Kates, who in time. Would capture, “Installer.” And she had read my pilot, “The Brink.” And was, you know, very high on it, and signed me because of that. And within six weeks it was, I was told that it was sold to, “Sony Pictures, TV.” And so that was actually my first sale. Despite the kind of you know, the route around, “The Trees.” And that took a while longer. And since the I’ve sold other stuff, and other stuff has not mentioned so far a little bit. But yeah, this has just been one seriously long, much like the movie is? A slow burn, this, the path of this has been a very slow burn.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So now, tell me, with this pilot, did they go and shoot the pilot up an episode? What ended up happening with that, once it sold?
Tyler: It was, the synapsis with that was, we got very close to that particular network. To the point where I was fine, you know, to meet high-ups and that. And in different parts of the country. Looked like it was going to happen, but mandates change and that’s what happened. So that script ultimately did not get ode to pilot. But it established me. Like the business writers especially now, need to have the ability to go back and forth between film and TV. And TV, look at the WHTI a report that just came out last week. The work in TV, the money in TV, TV is there and it’s a little bit harder to get those budget adult dramas that I kind of like to write. But, go down to the feature space and sell, I’ve been kinda, you know, you kinda need to live in both worlds. And that script for me, established me in the TV space. A lot of producers live in both worlds, and a lot don’t, you know? A lot of those executives you talk to, they don’t write feature spec., they don’t read the “Black List.” So you kinda need to keep both plates spinning. And so that script was great, even though it didn’t go?
Yes, still like, it established me as an entity in those people’s minds. Who now I pitched to them, I’m not, my next spec. might actually be, read it a little faster. “Oh, no, I liked that script.” If it were to work out or whatever?
Ashley: Okay, okay. So let’s get you in a little bit more into “Dark is the Night.” Maybe you could talk a little bit about sort of where that idea came from? And just the genesis of it, the story?
Tyler: Sure, sure, yeah. That, I am, kinda grew-up at as a bit of a nerd. All this, you know, UFO’s and “Bigfoot” and the “Jersey Devil” like, I grew-up on “The X-Files.” And that was the show and I got like I was into that. I was nerdy kid, and still am. I remember guys back then fascinated by that stuff. And I was familiar with it.
It was a true story out of the 1800’s and in this little town in Kopachium England. And there’s this story, look it up and see the newspaper articles today. “The Devil’s Footprints” and it was this small sleepy little town community. That woke-up one morning to freshly fallen snow. And bi-ped hoof prints going all throughout their community and throughout the countryside. And you could see these articles about how terrified people were. Or this is the devil, this is greed, are we going to? And the idea from that was, you know, what does that look like? What if this is the exact same thing happened? Instead of late 1800’s its modern day America, In a rural community? I think the reaction would not be all that different. And so that was kind of the launching off point of that. And let’s take pieces of American folklore, let’s build this out and go. Look at all these stories across thousands of years, across thousands of miles. These pieces of folklore. What roams in the woods? You know, what if there are, there’s eternal at the very center of all that. A truth that is the commonality it. You know, let’s see if the wind will go with that? Let’s take the Jersey Devil, let’s take these mid-evil legends and see what would be famous in the middle of all that potential? What did it look like? And so, from that, you know, at least this kind of new piece of folklore that I saw to create in the structure in all this. Inciting incident if you will of these hoof prints. Until this community realizing that they are about to confront something unlike they have ever seen? And it’s only going to get worse.
Ashley: Now I’m curious? You kind of mentioned this a couple a more times just about. In the marketing of this script. And trying to figure out sort of what it is? How or where were you and obviously you were sort of new to the industry coming up with this idea. How or where were you if this didn’t fit you, you slid into this sort of about a box, a typical creature feature horror character? Was it just not a consideration, you just wanted to write the script you wanted to write?
Tyler: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that what you said about me is right. I mean, I was a guy, you know, who had nothing to lose. And I was like, screw it, and I think too often young writers chase. And I think too often, even established writers chase. You know, you start taking leads, all this is what people are looking for. Let me write, let me shoot or my thinking into that box. And you know, I admired my advice, always too young writers is, don’t chase. You know, if you gonna miss? Miss interesting, okay? Always respect interesting okay. You know, a mediocre down the middle script gets no one’s attention.
You know, and so, I was kinda aware of it, at the time. You know, that I love people and the creature stuff and I spoke about folklore and history and that. But at the core of it, I want this to be a character piece. You know, what’s the most interesting man to face off against this character from the woods? And I grew-up and wrote the first draft of this. This was in my parent’s basement in Kentucky. I grew-up with people, you know, from Middle America. And grew-up in communities I know these people. The kind of people in this movie are people I grew-up with. And there was a lot of me and a lot of these people. And so I just wanted to tell a story that was genuine. And you were, you know? I didn’t want to, you know, I didn’t care about this is how you write a creature feature. You know, let’s just write the best movie, you know, for me. Nothing to lose, no better, than it’s no good. And so that was the idea. Like let’s take this guy and make it a character story. About a man going through loss. But this character Paul Shields he went from the beginning of our movie. He is suffering from the loss of his son. He died about eight months ago. And Paul very much blames himself. Who feels regret and feels responsible. A small town sheriff, he’s supposed to be a protector. And he can’t even protect his own son, right? And so, we introduce the, this idea, this threat from the woods. And all of a sudden everyone in his community is looking to him to be the protector. And he doesn’t see himself as that guy anymore. And so, he has to kind of reconcile. And he has to, you know, he can’t keep pushing away his problems. He has to come to terms with what happened and who he is. If he’s going to stand any chance of saving the people that he loves and the people that trust him to protect them.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s dig into sort of the logistics of actually getting this thing sold? So you’ve taken the script over and around to studios. They like it, but they can’t quite get a grasp on what it is? So now, you’re having conversations with, well what could it look like at $5 million dollars or maybe even less? So, what, who are you having those conversations with and what does that? Like, what were the, those meetings like? What did you actually start to do to push this more into like the independent route with which you ended up sorta ended up being?
Tyler: Sure, sure. Yeah, I mean, like, initially, I mean, when you’re doing something like that? I wasn’t thinking thankfully remarkably free gas or anything, for producers. I had the script with me for option a handful of them. Companies they were pulling together independent equity. So, the conversation was like, okay if this deal comes about, you know, and they choose me for it? A draft, or whatever? It may look like, because at that time, right around that time, I had just become UGA Club, the TV Show. So, you know, that kind of conversation had become different. You can’t just, you know, work for free. For you know, either their parameters which exactly you got to be. You know, meet the minimums and all this stuff. But you had these conversations. What does the movie look like, at the price you guys are aiming? Will you do that and sell. We started figuring that out and I had outlines with them. Okay, we can scale this. Having to protect what’s central and what’s important. But, if the soul of the movie, while maybe we don’t need this huge scene in a blizzard in Alaska. Fifteen minutes after outside at night. Instead, maybe go, “We can kinda, contain this a little bit more?” And maintain what’s important. Though I have had other option at a company that was trying to make the movie. And then I got a phone call from Jack Heller. Who is one of the principals of “Calaber Media.” Who called up and said, “Look, I found a script on the “Black List” and this wasn’t a simple mission. This was just, you know, years later, on the “Black List.”
He was scouring the list, he had his assistants looking for material that can never really, you know, gotten traction off of the list. And he came up with across this script.
He said, “It was the first one he read.” And he decided that he wanted to make the movie. And so he started calling me. But at the time it was on her contract with things under Ashley and another company. And I was in this place, what do I ever renew with these guys I was working with? Or do I trust Jack to follow through? On the fact that he was calling me? And said, “We’re going to make this movie in six months. You give me this script, the movie is done. We’re making the movie in six months.” Which, you know, you get used to, you know, the new stuff like that, a lot. And so you just kinda go down that road with skepticism. But when it became available, I said, “Okay.” I told Jack, “Let’s do it!” And so I let them acquire the script. And he was right on the money, with six months. We were in production, “Dark is the Night.”
Ashley: And did he have some sort of like, at this point you already tried. Did he have some sort of luck budget range that you were looking at?
Tyler: Yeah. I mean like, when you’re talking independent film and equity obviously, every penny counts. You know, it’s, it wasn’t the $25 million dollar version. It’s, so the conversations’ even before, you know, we formalized the script. You know, in our relationship, those were the conversations. That’s the money, because again, we’ve been through this for years. It’s like, let’s make sure we see the movie the same way. Just so we don’t, no one gets frustrated. “Oh, no, I thought it was this way?” “Listen, I thought it was this?” And Jack got it, from the very beginning. And now the conversations were, how could we do these things? How can we sail this to the size that makes sense independently. To protect what’s really important. And from the beginning Jack got the idea. This idea that it’s a family drama that has to be a creature film. I mean, like I said, he got it! And so, from there we were, you know, very much just kinda going back and forth. And I was there for Jack every step of the process. Through changes that needed to happen, I was there to facilitate them. And I had that as kind of a conversation. All too often you hate to hear, like a writer, a self-script, and they get bumped off a script. It happens all the time. Fortunately I was there to kind of usher them to the changes that needed to happen. And we could figure out the best way to execute them to keep them protected. What we both thought, it was the heart and soul of the movie.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, good, sure. I’m gonna touch on one thing? It’s a common thing, I talk to screenwriters about it? I want to get your take on it? You know, you mentioned, like, when you first got your manager. That, that was about six months’ worth of development. You mentioned you optioned the script a bunch of times and you went to development people and the developer executives were like, let’s make it more of a straight up horror, creature feature, horror movie. And you were saying, I don’t know if it’s this movie? How do you get through those meetings and lead those rewrites. In some cases it sounds like, it pains you to do the rewrite. But, neither you nor the manager? I’ve been in these situations where the manager, maybe you get in this endless cycle of rewrites. And it gets very, very, demoralizing. You feel like it’s never going to end. And you get to the point where you feel like the notes they’re giving you are completely ridiculous. That they are not going to make the script better. How do you feel about it? And how do you get through those projects, and put persevere through that? I think the one thing is, I want to emphasize is that, people who read a screen write, they don’t realize that’s like 90% of screen writing.
Ashley: And they think it’s going to be like 90% sitting at their desk writing these fanciful ideas. And it’s not, it’s 90% grinding out, you know, half baked ideas from a development executives that may or may not know what the hell they’re talking about?
Ashley: And they don’t realize, and people really need to understand, you know, that’s a big part of the job. And how can you get through it?
Tyler: Right, right. Well, that’s a very good question. And I think, you know, it’s a very important part of that conversation. That I had with Jack, you know, the director was not up front. Was, let’s make sure when we go down this path. That we both see the same movie, ya know? I can’t over state that the importance of that. And so that first initial cup of coffee that I had with my soon to be manager. When doubting the script? Was, okay, if we’re going to go down this path, if we’re going to develop this script together? Let’s make sure we’re both running towards the same end zone. Because otherwise, exactly what you’re talking about. Like if you’re going to start, I don’t know what you’re? You’re steering us into this ravin, I don’t know why? We’re clearly trying to go this way. And so, the important thing is, whether it’s with a manager or if it’s with a development executive. Is, you know, before, it’s a hard conversation to have. You know, it’s especially if it’s with someone who? You’re the first person who has, you know, valuated what I want, you know? Which is to say, I can write, and sometimes people just latch on, to the industry or whatever? A representative, I just think you need to take a degree and make sure the right person relationship will work. By making sure you’re both strong. And whether the script or whatever? It’s your career, it’s not worth wrap. Be very clear about this, this is not where I want to be, you know. This is what I want to do. This is where I want to see myself in five years. Do you see me as that kind of writer? Or are you going to try and turn me into something else? So, I guess that’s my answer. Because, yeah, once you get into that down the path and into a relationship. Sometimes that can be very frustrating. And it happens every now and then, a golden time when? Whether it’s not exact, you’re not seeing it the right way? And you’re not seeing it the same way, it doesn’t work out. But hopefully you can work it out. Get ahead of that Betty, you have that part conversation. About what it is.
Ashley: Have you been in some of those situations? Where it, and it’s especially, I totally agree with you, what you’re saying. It totally becomes especially difficult as you say. If you’re like a new writer, this is like a first manager. And he’s telling you, no, we should go this way. Even though you want to go that way. It’s hard to say no to that because you don’t have a whole lot of options. But if you have been in those situations with managers and producers. Where you knew it just wasn’t a good fit, and you had to turn them down and walk away from it. Even though you thought, gee maybe I should have done this?
Tyler: Sure, sure. Maybe fully, I mean, hopefully it isn’t such a big issue. Like, I mean, all the time. You get notes all the time. I mean, and hopefully, for an example with the, I just had a recent numbertini property solved and we went through several drafts. Managers are paid things, and you want to honor it all. The notes that come in, for sure. Because they’re paying you to do your job.
And so, hopeful what happens however, is that, again there is a part conversation. This is what the show is, this is what the movie is. And when those notes come in. And always a case that you can’t control. There is hopefully, there’s a trust there. That is, you know, a lot of times when notes come in. You know, a good exact role? If they are paying you to do the work? Will trust you to do your, they trust your judgement. That’s your job, it’s what you’re doing. You can say, “Look, I know this isn’t, a note came down from MA, come down from the top at the studio.” Who wrote it, you know? But here’s my concerns about it? And a good executive will listen to it. And will go, “You know what? If you don’t think that will work? Or if you think this may pull through better, you know, this thread’s not, damages are too much.” Maybe we don’t do that. Trust you to fix the problem. A lot of times, you know, a bad note is, wants you to do this? A good note is, here’s what we’re about to do, what am I up against? Maybe it’s fixed this way. But it’s up to you to try and figure it out. And so, you know, sometimes people get stuck. They get hitched, they get ode to fix. They haven’t even been told the problem is, you know? Okay, your heart hurts, but is it the bone or the tendon? Or like, that’s up to the writer to figure out? Just tell me, or I’ll take a look at why?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Okay, so how can people see “Dark was the Night?” Do you have the release schedule? When is it going to be in theaters? When is it going to hit videos and OnDemand type of stuff?
Tyler: Yeah, yeah, It comes out on Friday July 24th, on ITunes, Amazon, and it’s at Select Theaters, I think we’re at, we’re in L.A., New York, we’re in Orlando, Kansas City, Dallas, and Lexington Kentucky; my home town. Which is where I’m at right now, why I’m back. So, a, to a, to do some local press and to just kinda soak it up here. And prove to my parents, it’s a legitimate job.
Ashley: So I, just want to touch on one last thing before we leave and then we talked about this in the pre-interview a little. But I get a lot of writers sending me the question? Do I have to move to L.A. to be a successful screenwriter? I think your story is a good one. Maybe you could talk a little bit about where in Kentucky? And also living in L.A. and the back and forth. And do you think you could have gotten your career going if you had never moved to Los Angles?
Tyler: I mean, it’s a very good question and I, it is a good question as I imagine it. I see it a lot, for people I know that I have a place back in Kentucky as well as L.A. I think, you know, if you really want to get into this business industry for real? You have to come to terms with spending some full time some time in Los Angeles to alight your career, I mean it. Is it possible to hit the lottery from Iowa to get the right shot at? To answer the right Email script and they write you a check and they say, you’re a millionaire? It’s possible, but, you know, it’s not the game you want to play with your career I don’t think? If you’re very serious about, I don’t want to say how about, how do I get the highest possible shot at success? When you’re young, hopefully, you know, it’s. If you’re fresh out of school? Or you know, you’ve optioned to do this at the instead of going to college, like that’s the time in your life that, to take big swings. You know, to figure out what it is for you? And you know, I think you need to come to terms with spending some time in it, in L.A. I think if you’re young. With that said, you know, there’s so many outlets, more than when I started.
And you know, like when I talked about the “Black List” and all these resources, you know. It’s possible to get your material out there, you know, more than there was in the past. Even if you get traction on a script. You’re gonna, the question’s going to be, how do you capitalize on it, and that? It’s like, if I make “The Black List.” You know, nine, if I wasn’t in L.A. It wouldn’t have done me much good. Because like what I said, evening eating your dinner in this room, and then suddenly the guy who keeps, you met. Yeah, I remember meeting with him after that, with that reading that script I liked? I think he’s a decent guy, maybe he does it right one. And so, so much of this town is just these relationships. You know, people who will bring you concepts or ideas. One of them, people will remember you, and your scripts next time. And in TV, particularly, if you let work from TV, must at least be full time in L.A. for a full portion of the time. She does a year of a show goes. So, yeah, my situation, is that I have a residence in L.A. and a residence in Kentucky. And I’ve got, just a few people that ping-pong back and forth, pretty regularly. And I’ve got a little two year old. And we try to keep her with the grandparents as much as possible. But when I need to be in L.A., you know, you just go back into it. Your lifestyle claims a lot, but that’s the place to play.
Ashley: How much time, what percentage of time would you say, do you spend in Kentucky versus L.A.? What sort of a break is it? Yeah, it depends on the projects that are going on. It depends on the place and time and year? If I’m out pitching? You know, on a show, I’ll spend several weeks at a time in L.A. My default position is just to be back in Kentucky. Because, like, that’s a time I keep in our little guy here with the family and all that. It’s just a lot easier. Truthfully, so, it depends, you know, if I got a TV property that’s up at 80th Street. Videos right now that are out to the networks with, you know, hopefully? We get some good news on that in the coming days. And then you know, something about shooting a pilot hopefully. So, yes, the, you got to be fluid, you got to be fluid, flexible. And that’s tough, you know, if you have a regular, you know, 9-5 and things like that. So, you know, it’s.
Ashley: It sounds like you take care of your 2 year old and your wife back and forth with you onto Kentucky and L.A. lucky?
Tyler: If I’m out for a long period of time and that in L.A. I will. Out for a week of, whatever for a couple of days at that. I try to have the two year old often enough. We come back here because we need to be. But if I am ever out for a long stretch, than yeah. We bring them out just to a, you know, for staying. I like having them around, I don’t like staying with them more than a couple of weeks away from them than I have to.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. I always like to wrap up these interviews just asking how people can follow you and just kinda keep up with what you’re doing? If you have a Twitter handle you can mention that, if you’re on Facebook, a blog. Whatever you feel comfortable sharing? We’ll put in the show notes and link to it. But you need to just mention it here. And hopefully people can just follow along with what you’re up to?
Tyler: Yeah. For sure, I’m a, on Twitter and anything else, and its @tylerhisel – h-i-s-e-l a yeah. I mean, it’s a, I think you know this? Twitter is such a spectacular format for writers of all kind of levels to just a share resources and ask questions.
I know I’ve been asked questions and that. And ask questions of those, you know, who have gone before me. It’s a great resource, and I’m happy to hear from anybody here. Shine light on my bizarre soldier and help any way that I can.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. I’ll link to that in the show notes. Well, Tyler you’ve been very generous with your time. This has been a great interview, I enjoyed talking to you. I did watch the movie a couple of nights ago, very interesting film, I really enjoyed it, very entertaining. I wish you luck with it.
Tyler: I appreciate it. So long.
Ashley: Thanks, talk to ya later. Bye.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things we’re doing at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. To help screenwriters find producers who are looking for material.
First, we’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-on per newsletter. I went and Emailed my large database of producers and asked them if they would like to receive this monthly newsletter of pitches. So far we have about 160 producers who have signed up to receive it. These producers are hungry for material and are happy to read scripts from writers. So, if you want to participate in this pitch newsletter? Get your script into the hands of a lot of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
And secondly we partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriter read sites. So we can syndicate their premium paid screen writing leads to SYS Select members. There are a lot of great page leads coming in each week from my partner. We screen, we’ve been getting each week about 10-12 high quality paid screenwriting jobs per week. These are producers and production companies who are actively looking to buy new material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you sign-up for SYS Select, you will get these leads Emailed directly to you, these leads. At a couple times a week. These leads run the gambit. From production companies to looking for a specific type of spec. script.
Two producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas. We have producers looking for shorts. Producers looking for features. Producers looking for TV and web series pilots. It’s a huge a ray of different types of projects these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and SYS Select members. To sign-up, just go to –
In the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing – Lee Jessup. She was actually on the Podcast about 18 months ago. Since then she’s written, “Bulk.” And I’m going to have her back on. We talk about her book. And we will also go through a variety of career strategies to screenwriters and various stages of their careers. She actually works with screenwriters, in all levels of their careers. And it will probably just be interesting to ask her, “Hey, what’s some good advice for beginner screenwriters?”
And any advice for intermediate screenwriters who will be having an agents or who will be quite sold something. And all the way up the ladder, to working TV writers and working studio writers. Just what’s some advice for them? So we kinda go through that. And as I said, she wrote this book. Which is a really interesting nuts and bolts account of the screenwriting industry. Really unlike anything I’ve ever read. Just a lot of business stuff about screenwriting, so we talk about that, we dig into that. And as I said, we go through some of the various stages of screenwriting careers and what they can do to get their careers to the next level. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just wanted to touch on a few things from todays’ interview with Tyler Hisel. The thing that impressed me most about Tyler is his positive, can do attitude and his hustle. I kind of probed him a little bit about some of the down sides. Or just some of the, you know, problems he ran into. And he just seemed to always be very, very positive. You know, he always had a positive spin on the situation. And there’s really no under estimating how valuable this positive attitude is, in this business. No matter who you are and how talented you are. It’s going to be a long over dues and setbacks. And just listen to Tyler talk about how he was constantly pitching people on a script and networking. That is what it takes to get ahead. So I think that’s a great lesson for us. As he said, pitching people while working the desk at a production company, is probably frowned upon. But sometimes that’s what you gotta do. You know you don’t want to be weird about it? And I’m sure there were a lot of people he pitched
That never responded. But you only need that one person. That’s the great thing about this, it’s just, it’s not, you don’t need to continue to convince ten people to buy your script. You only need one or two people, you know. You just, its, even if you get a million “No’s, you only need one “Yes.” That’s really part of the strategy. I also think, as I said, Tyler’s personality is very positive, friendly, outgoing. And I think that probably also really helped him, in just working the desk. People will do what they like, and he was friendly. As I said, he wasn’t being weird about it. He probably made it, he made the pitch, he talked to them in a way that didn’t make them feel uncomfortable and made them feel less important as well. You’ve got to learn to sell yourself. You’ve got to learn about how to talk to people. And do, you know, convince them to read your script, and not just state. Hey, yes, just to get me off the phone real quick kinda thing. You’d just be interested in the story, also him as a person. To take the time to actually read this script. Anyway, it’s another story of someone working from a low-level job or business. And looking for their big break and making things happen for themselves when opportunity arrives. I’ve talked about this numerous times in the Podcast. I definitely think this is probably the number one way of reminders why we make it as screenwriters. Listen to his story, that’s the typical story, I know it’s not necessarily going to work for everyone. I did, I mentioned this in the Podcast for too. I honestly mentioned this stuff a couple of months ago. Where I went through all of my Podcasts and tallied it up. How people broke into the industry? I have a link to that in the show notes. Again, I think Tyler, the number one way was basically with Tyler described here. Started out as a little job use and slowly work your way up. That seems to be the most common. You just had to figure out the most, like you just made them. The last chance you have at becoming a screenwriter. That’s definitely far and above the most common way. When you talk to successful screenwriters and screenwriters who have actually sold stuff. You know, that’s going to be it. It was probably more than 50%. Definitely the super best way to become a screenwriter, when screenwriters broke in.
More than cold quarry letters, more than contests, more than “Ink-Tip” or “Black List.” Or more than any of these other channels. It was really just working in the industry and making connections, making contacts. Right writing and getting your stuff out there. And that’s one trap I’ve seen people fall into. And it’s just one thing you really want to be careful of. I see people take leverage perhaps in the industry and they don’t continue to write. Listen to what Tyler said, he was writing on the weekends, he was writing at night. And that’s so, so, important. You don’t necessarily want one of those jobs, if it comes down to if it completely drains you. You have no energy to write at night, write on the weekends. And it’s understandable. A lot of these jobs are, especially 9-5 jobs. They are incredibly low pay, and they are incredibly grueling.
When I first got to Hollywood, I had one of these PA jobs. It was literally, it was like, you show-up at 7:00a.m. in the morning. And you’re lucky if you’re done at 8-9:00p.m. at night. And they were really only paying minimum. And that was 8-9 years ago. But I bet these jobs are still out there and people doing them. Literally paying $50.00 a day, for 10-12 or more hours. And needless to say that was barely enough money to live on. And so I was teaching tennis on the weekends. And their production was random. This was actually back at least when? I was doing something, so basically I was putting out a production assistant for them. They were getting ready to change shop out there. Basically by the time I got there. They were getting ready to release it. “Gearing Up Yourself.” And that was taking a lot of time. But, anyways I was teaching tennis on the weekends. Because $50.00 a day was not enough to live on. And they wanted me to come in and work on the weekends. And I said, I can’t, I’ve got this other job? They actually made me give it up, because I couldn’t come in on the weekends. But that’s another story. But the thing is? When I was doing this job? Truthfully, it was just too hard to go home and write. So, you got to keep some kind of balance. It’s just not going to work, working 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus some weekends. Obviously you’re not going to have time to write. If you want to keep some perspective on it. And keep all the options in the world are not going to be worth “Diddly Squat” if you don’t have some decent scripts to show those people. So keep that in mind. Anyway, that’s the show, thank for listening.