This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 102: Screenwriter Jared Frieder Talks About His Contest Wins, His Black List Table Read, And How He Got His First Professional Credit.
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Ashley: Welcome to episode #102 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger, over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Screenwriter – Jared Frieder. Who wrote a script called, “Through My Eyes” which was recently put up as a Black List table read. We talk about his career as a screenwriter, how he got his agent? How this script happened to be chosen as a Black List Table Read. And he also won a bunch of contests with this screenplay. So we talk about that too, what sort of help each one of these contests did for him. So stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes, any websites or links that I mention on 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 up something else up later on. You can find all of the Podcast show notes at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and then just look for episode #102.
A couple of quick updates, I continually build up the SYS Script Library. I just posted the screenplays for “While We’re Young,” “X Mackinaw,” “End of Tour,” “Mississippi Grind,” and “Go West.” These were sent in by Sherry Frost. So, thank you very much, Sherry for sending us those screenplays in. If you have a screenplay you do not see listed in the library? Please do Email me, Email them to me. SYS Script Library is completely free and we have over a thousand scripts in it in the library. Many hit movies and award winners and television shows. All the scripts are in PDF format. So you can download and read them on whatever device you use. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/library.
I just want to mention two free webinar that I am doing on Wednesday – December 9th 2015. I’m basically redoing the webinar I did in August, and September. I had a lot of people who weren’t able to attend, so I’m going to do the exact same webinar again live. It’s called, “How to Effectively Market Your Screenplay and Sell it.” I’m going to go through all the various online channels that are available to screenwriters. And give you my unfiltered opinion. I did questions all the time. Does the Black list work? Does Inktip work? Which contest should I enter? I tried pretty much every channel available to screenwriters. And I mean, I’m giving you my unfiltered opinion on each one. And tell ya which ones work and which ones don’t. Again, this webinar is completely free. So, don’t worry if you can’t make it to the live event. I’ll be recording this event, so if you sign-up, you’ll get a link to the recorded event after it happens. To sign-up, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar, that’s all lower-case and all one word.
www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. I will course link to it in the show notes as well. Also if you are already on my Email list, you don’t need to register. Anyone on my Email list will get an Email from me. Telling you exactly how to sign-up and go to it. The webinar will take about two hours. I get lots of question, the last two times I’ve done it? Lots of people have lots of questions? No questions are left unanswered, so again, you have a question? Just swing in with any question, this is a great time to get it answered by me. Again, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. Again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar.
A quick few words about what I am working on? I’m almost done with my trailer. That I am getting ready to use with my Kick-Starter Campaign. I’ve been talking about this for the last couple of months. I plan on launching it in early June. Anyway, I’m going to be setting my goal at $20,000.00. Basically I’ve already raised fifteen thousand dollars. So the total budget will be somewhere over around $25,000.00 or so. It’s a micro-budget film for sure. And when I said ways, I basically have one offer kicking, and then a little bit of money. And I’m kicking in the rest. I’ve been talking about this for months on the Podcast, so I’m excited to finally to be rolling this out. As I said, it’s probably be early to mid-January I’m going to roll this out. I’ll put the teaser trailer out there, so everybody can see it. The only thing I have to do now is? I’m just doing some graphics on it. Working with a friend of mine, strange, he’s going to be doing some graphic cards. All the sound work is done, the editing, the video is all cut together. It’s basically that I’m putting in basically like a little poster there right now. I’m creating, I’m going to slide that in, once that’s done. Pretty much be it, so, stay tuned for more updates on that. This I’m going to be starting to do more research into Kick-Starter. How to launch the campaign, how to set-up your page. So, I’ll be updating that in the next couple of weeks.
I got the next draft of, we’ve been talking about this on the Podcast to, my spoof comedy. I got the next draft done, as I was supposed to. I sent it off to them last Wednesday, which was the day before Thanksgiving. I’m actually recording this now, the Monday after Thanksgiving. So, I got that to them, basically I did a quick pass on that. But, we’ll see in three days, ripped up a new pass. There’s still some things after I was about done and sent it in. I mean, I really wanted to make deadline. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on it over the Thanksgiving Holiday. So, I wanted to get them a new draft. But there’s a couple of things I think they felt will probably come back. And then I had one idea of my own. Just mixing up the protagonist, I just have a bunch of people, it’s a musical group. And there’s, we’re trying to sort through who’s the protagonist and what they’re arcs are? I had some ideas on that, after I completed this draft over this weekend. This is as I was thinking about this. So, I probably want to pitch that idea to them. And then, maybe take another pass at it. I’ll definitely have some more ideas. So, I’m sure I’m not done writing on that. Right now they are talking about finishing this in January or February, so that’s a good sign. They still like the script, they think we’re on track with that. You know, there’s thanks they are shooting for January or February. Probably into March, April or even May. By the time we shoot it. But, at the very least they seem to like the first one. A couple of drafts into the script now. But there is still more I have to do. Because they were telling me a couple of different directions that they have. Thinking about maybe fielding for the project. So, that’s all a good sign. I have high hopes that this one might actually get produced.
Another thing I am working on, a couple of weeks ago I met a producers who was also a musician, who wants to turn his life’s story into a movie. I actually sat down and I talked with him for a couple of hours, sometimes heard his experiences as a producer. As a film producer, as a musician. And I pitched him on the idea, as I was listening to it?
I pitched him on the idea of turning it into a, you know, television show. You know, HBO, maybe a cable show, maybe a network show. It maybe doesn’t seem that edgy for an HBO show, but? There’s lots of places now producing TV. A bunch of people, through my SYS Email or Fax Blast have optioned, and sold pilot scripts. So, I’ve kinda been thinking, gee, I really want to get in and try writing one of these? And he’s telling me, “Yeah, wow, this would make a great TV show I think?” So, I pitched him the idea of turning it into a TV Show. Because initially he was saying, feature film. And, um he liked the idea of turning it into a TV show. So, I think that’s the direction running we’re going to go. It’s driven toward episodic TV show. He had a successful career as a musician and also as a producer. The actual story of that we are going to be doing is? His story of a musician. Even in a very particular time period in Southern California. And then we’ll be able to make those connections as a producer. To go out and pitch this project. To the various companies he had, and those relationships with. The weight was substantial as I said. He’s a successful movie producer as well, He probably produced over twenty films, over the last 15-20 years. And then of course, again, if his connections don’t work out? I kept my own connections. Like I said, I had some people sell an option. Pilots through my Email and Fax Blast. If his connections don’t pan out. At least I’ll have a back-up plan to go and then take it there myself. There’s no pay for something like this. I’m going to be doing the show while I’m writing this pilot up on spec. But, what, one of the other things I pitched to them? You see, the meaning to it is? Obviously I’m one of the show creators, so we’ll both be show creators. While obviously I’ll write this pilot episode up, with his help. And then I’ll also be a producer during the project. The real money in TV is being the producers/ executive producer. Being that show runners, being the one who creates the show. If the movie, especially if you can get the network. I’m not so sure about cable? It’s a little bit of a different scenario on cable, but I’m on network TV, I’m, if you hit that three year mark. Of doing episodes with a lead and you get into syndication, it’s, you know, tens of millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions of dollars. But it goes to the show created those executive producers, the show rather. So that’s really where you want to be and to be, not just writing episodes or whatever WGBH scale is? You know, probably for gratuity it’s like $60,000.00 or something an episode. You would get some residuals every time that episode aired. But, you really want to be the show creator or so? That’s what I’m pitching to them, the idea. He seems to like me, we got along, he’s real nice guy. A really interesting guy, he says he’s got some really great stories, which I felt, I think will work out well for this particular project.
I get quite a few offers from people who want me to help them write their life story. Or turn their novel into a screenplay, and I usually dismiss them pretty quickly. So, I thought it might be worth just going through sort of my logic of why I am taking on this project as opposed to the dozens of other projects that do get pitched to me.
As I said, as it is? Number one, he’s got a really neat story. Which I think has a lot of potential. I mean, that’s first and foremost. You have to hear a story that you like, and are interested in. But, and this is definitely something I think is a cool story that would be interesting. So, that’s all good, but with that said, a lot of these other stories people are pitching to. Some of them are perfectly interesting as well, so, that alone, is very important, it’s absolutely essential to be interested in the project, or it’s not going to work, especially on a spec. I suppose if someone was paying that amount of money I’d consider it. But, on spec. you have to like it, the project. So, the other things as I mentioned? He actually lived and worked in a very cool, very specific time period here in Southern California. So, I think that’s a very unique angle on this material. You know, having a first person account like that? Is going to give us a real advantage over anyone else, who might like to do this story.
In the entrepreneurial world there wasn’t a lot of entrepreneurial Podcasts as I try to build, “Selling Your Screenplay.” And I listen to these things and entrepreneurs often talk about your own unfair advantages. You know, you try and leverage something that you have that most others, people, simple, simply never be able to do. And I think his being, actually being alive and living during this time period is kind of an unfair advantage. You can’t fake that. And if we go in to pitch this story? And they like the basic concept of the story? It’s not gonna be that easy for us or another company to pitch a similar story. Because then you’re not going to have someone who actually lived and worked in the specific time period. And so, I think that’s a real key thing. It’s the actual real deal, who actually lived it. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s got a track record of films produced. So at the very least, I’m sure he can get us some meetings. So, again, that’s some huge factors. Somebody comes to me with it? Their novel, or their life’s story and watch it turn into a movie. I mean, if they don’t have any connections as a producer? Film producer, TV or show producer? Essentially it’s just roll off. And no need to do all of that marketing work. Much potential I guess is fine? But I mine as well just market my own projects, my own, if I am going to write somebody else’s. Turn somebody else’s novel or life story into a screenplay. And then have to do all the marketing on it myself. So, if s someone comes to me with notes, experience in terms of pre-raising, or raising money? So, someone comes to me wanting to raise the money that would be, also be a big thing. Because that’s a difficult task. So, he’s taking off on a lot of the hard, hard, work. I mean, laying the script work, obviously takes time work. And it is, difficult to write a good script. However, actually marketing it, having those connections, is going to be very, very essential to getting this thing produced. We’re going to need a track record as a producer. As I said, I think he’s probably produced 20 movies over the last 15-20 years. So, you know what? No one is going to look at him and say, “Gee, well, this can this guy get this done?” It’s like, it’s pretty obvious. And because he’s been in the business, you know, for decades, he’s got a ton of connections. He’s just going to be able to pick-up the phone. And people will return his phone calls and get his meetings. So, that’s another big factor. He’s not just another musician with a great story. He’s a musician with a great story and he’s a film producer that can get us meetings. So, with these things combined and I’m thinking this is actually pretty good writing on spec. As I said, it’s a potential, it’s high risk. In the sense that there’s no guarantees on writing on spec. I’m not getting paid up front. However, if it does go? And at least there’s a reasonable shot that I will because of all these things have come about because of a producer? There’s high reward as well. Because I will go on as one of the show creators. So, any other thing, this is, this may sound silly, but he lives 15 minutes from where I live. So, it’s very convenient, to just meet up with him and talk about it, the project. And yet it sounds maybe true. A deal, but again, there’s nothing like meeting someone first. You can do it on Skype, you can do it over the phone. But actually meeting someone in person and looking them in the eye and get a sort of sense of them, that goes a long way. Because there’s gonna be like, real legal issues where we‘re gonna have to sign some contract at some point. And then you just want them to know you? Going into business with someone, and you can get that over Skype. But there’s something to get in person. So, again, it goes back to potentially living in Los Angeles. So, and or the Los Angeles area. Los Angeles is a big area, so, you could live in Los Angeles and I live in Los Angeles area, and we could be two hours apart. So, some of this is pure coincidental. So if you live in the Los Angeles area there is that opportunity, to meet someone like this that lives close to you. And that’s a big thing, it’s especially for working closely on this project.
With something like this, it’s, if it goes it’ll be years. But even if it doesn’t go? It’s going to be a solid six months to a year of being up, of rights going to meetings. A, all of that stuff. And this, of course is definitely a big help on that.
So, anyway, that’s what I’m trying to working on. I’ve got a lot of things, a lot of irons in the fire. So, let’s get into the next segment. Today, I’m interviewing Jared Frieder, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Jared, to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me.
Jared: Thanks for having me, I really appreciate it.
Ashley: So, to start the show out, I wonder if you could just give us a quick overview of your career in the entertainment industry. You know, take us all the way back, maybe to your former child years? Kinda how you got interested in screenwriting? And bring us up kinda to the present day. And we’ll dig into some of your present projects.
Jared: Of course. So, I grew-up in a really small town, called, “Cooperstown, Florida.” Which is Everglades of ajasoned if you will? It’s like kinda close to Fort Lauderdale. But, It was kinda conservative town, and a it was very Catholic. It’s very Christian, it’s very Orthodox Jewish. It was super homo-phobic. So, as a little gay tot, writing with as a means of escape for me. And fiction was my first love, and I grew-up loving southern gothic look, like, Fredrick O’Connor, her and. It was just something I did. And I had applied to Columbia Graduate. I could always picture myself living in New York. And I got in, and that was basically my salvation. And the constant critic characters to kinda show the daily life anyway. And wanted to live that highly romanticized Brooklyn story writer life. For like eating roman and going to underground poetry readings. And being this pretentious human as possible. And I realized this was not going to buy dinners. And my parents wanted me to go to law school. So, I applied and got in. But, um, that wasn’t great. And I just discovered writing, because one of my best friends parents were in television production in the 90’s out here. And I was like, “Wow!” This is just a feasible way to tell awesome stories. And I’d always loved TV and film growing-up. But, in Florida, like living with the people who built the pyramids, wrote television, ya know? Alien’s that came down from space. It wasn’t something that ever I thought I could ever even dream to do? And so, I bought a one way ticket and moved out here, and hustled my butt off. And then couldn’t get a job. Because to be a PA (Production Assistant), lowest level. A film setter, a television show. You had to have been a PA, or know someone? And that was not something I, you know, had in my back pocket. So, I applied to screenwriting. And those days, USC (University of Southern California), was the number one screenwriting program. They wanted a ten page dramatic sample of my writing. And I went through an experience, because I was graduating from college. Where I was waiting for medical results. And it was just a really painful time. And I thought that, here my life would just be a waste of time of passivity and depression. But I really found out who I was, and what I was made of, and what I really, really wanted. That period also informed my decision to come out here and try to make it as a screenwriter, In Los Angeles. So, I woke up from a fever dream at 4:00a.m. in the morning and wrote about this kid, named Caleb. Who lived in Miami, and super queer and had an experience where he’s exposed to HIV that had to wait three months to be tested. And then, and it was like a fever dream. And it turned out ten pages, and I was like, I hadn’t ever written anything that’s better than these ten pages. And I’m a huge outliner. That’s my one huge writing caveat. I just cannot write if I don’t have a super intense intentive outline. So, I outline the thing, for two months. And then that makes writing easier and I wrote it in a month. I sent it out two months to a bunch of contests thinking, Eh, probably not going to have a lot of luck with an AIDS comedy. And, I did! A lot of contests responded really well to it. And I think that is my secret, that is, my advice I give to people. Is that, I’m like a “No run” and it was just a kinda of a stretch that, you know, that I was really proud and passionate about. I guess people could see the passion on the page. And then they really felt passionate about it, and won some contests. And my life changed, so, that’s kinda my story.
Ashley: Okay, so let me just dig into a couple of things here, a, so, did you finish law school?
Jared: Oh, I didn’t even apply. So, I applied, I took the LSAC, but I rescind the application, and moved to Los Angeles the day after I graduated undergraduate. So, I never ended up going to law school.
Ashley: Okay. So, how often were you out in Los Angeles before you said, “Alright, I’m going to apply to some undergraduate film programs? How long did you spend in time, just bumming around L.A.?
Jared: Um, maybe about a year and three months.
Jared: That was just about over a year, yeah.
Ashley: And you had written this ten page? Was this, the ten-page short, does it, was it the first ten pages of the feature?
Jared: Yeah. it was the later, the first ten pages of the feature. They just wanted, honestly, I encourage people, who either have writers block, or trouble writing. Not even apply to USC. That’s great to, but they’re writing assignments as a part of the application where you have to write a set of two scenes, be this really great guideline. That one, where two people are stuck on an elevator and need to be there, write a two page scene. And there was another creative assignment like that. And there was a, give us ten pages that kinda could be your calling card, that really define you? In terms of your voice and the tone, and subject matter that you are passionate about that you will be writing in the future. And it was that third part of the assignment that spun through my, a yeah.
Ashley: So, then did you get into USC, and then attend USC for two years?
Jared: You know what? I did. So I got into USC, and I got a scholarship, which was Coo-coo bananas. And I ended up dropping out after a semester, because I got job on ABC Family, with a show called, “Chasing Away.” Where I was a Writers Assistant.
And they were kind enough to let me Co-write the season finale. So, that was awesome. But, I learned a lot in that semester. And I really encourage people to MFA programs, it’s just a great way to kind of start building your portfolio of samples to send to agents, managers, and to get your foot in kind of the writing world. It was just a great place to learn. All be it, I wasn’t there as long as I should have been. But…
Ashley: So, Um. Then how, then okay. You’ve written those ten pages. Did you already have the, you had already written the whole feature? And just sent them the first ten pages? When did you actually start to write the, fill out the full feature films?
Jared: I was just, I’d finished the ten pages off. And I was just like, reading it. And I was like, I’d never written something? As good as these ten pages were for. And the story was something I had never seen before, you know? A lot of AIDS narritives are the ones from, you know, the ‘90’s, or the ‘80’s. Where it was really indelible to, you know, the epidemic. The sadness of people dropping down the streets and people being really sick. And you know, the historical context how taboo homosexuality was, and how it was a gay disease. But I’d never really seen something that kind of subverted that? Until it got to the core of what HIV function today, you know? There’s an amazing group of people living with HIV. Who are still, you know, in some ways frowned upon, because people think HIV is a shameful thing, and it does such an irresponsible perspective. These people are, you know, some of the, you know, at the forefront of industry, and then station. They are just the greatest people forever and I just wanted to shed light on, not so much the disease itself and the medical self-acts of the disease. But, you know, the cultural shame that we place on the world. When you say, “HIV” or “AIDS” in the rears, people are like, taken a back. And everyone kind of agrees, on those slurs. It’s not the same way we look at heart disease, or cancer? These are other things that are, you know, affecting people’s lives. And I kinda wanted to take it from that place of shame. So, I finished it after I wrote those ten pages, like I said. I’m one of those people I need no card for every seed. I had also never written a script feature. So, I’m, I was terrified that I’d fuck it up?! So, I wanted to take as many precautions while we were writing as possible. So I could create a finished product I could be proud of. So, I literally had a notebook card for every scene. Just tell Caleb, my protagonist developed, and how those, the secondary characters developed. And if I could have write at the bottom of each note card? Either, what the purpose of the scene was, was does it establish? What the conflict was, tossed about. So, it was incredibly methodical, in terms of my outlining process. And then I wrote a, and it was so edgy and so much easier to write something. When you have that little outline. And, yeah, and then I said, “About that.” So, without that outline, and I filled out the application in three months, it would have never existed. Which is weird to think about?
Ashley: Yeah. Okay. So, you mentioned that you submitted to a bunch of contests? I wonder if you can kind of talk about that, kind of your experience. And it sounds like you got some positive feedback from them? You know, people are always asking me, as someone who runs a screenwriting blog. Hey, what contests should I enter? So, I love to have people on, who can just say, “Hey, I entered this contest.”
We don’t necessarily, you know, poo-poo contests? But I would be curious to hear, hey I entered this contest, and this is kind of what happened. And I placed in the Semi-Finals. And this is what I got out of it. Because people are always wondering? How good are these contests? And what kind of juice do they really have?
Jared: Yeah, I would never “Poo-poo” any contest, even the smaller ones that I have placed number one. And have been like a really incredible experience. Um, the biggest one for me? Well, there’s two large ones, the biggest one in the industry that I won. Was the, “Awesome Film Festival Writing Competition.” I won their “Comedy Screenplay Contest. “ And that really kind of changed my life. It’s that in the “Nickle” they’re like the top 2, so I’ve heard? And, you go to Austin, which is crazy, because that contest is not only a screenplay contest, it’s also a screenwriting conference. The festival, it’s a festival for the screenwriters. Which in this industry, you know, prizes the after, you know, the director. To have this nurturing environment, that prioritizes that screenwriter and the script. It was awesome! I went to the greatest panels, the guys from “500 Days of Summer” had a great panel. Writers from “Bob’s Burgers” you know, it’s film, it’s television, it’s everything you want to know. And it’s a great way to network, and meet people in the business. You know, and on the flip side, it’s like the greatest screenwriting competition. I won a nice chunk of change, it’s really cool, it’s in this like Antebellum Ballroom in Austin. And it’s like at the Oscars, you, they call your name and you get up, you give a little speech. Great people, I was, when I was at the podium, accepting. Like Matt Wynner, and Winnie Olsman were at the first table in front of me. And I’m stammering so hard and trying to keep my composure. Which I did not keep my composure, because I am incapable of doing so. But, yeah, winning from Austin is a really cool thing. But I don’t think a lot of people know this? Once you win, there’s like “The Producer’s Handbook” had the name and log-in of all the winning scripts in it. And they send it out to industry professionals.
So, I’m with Paradigm now. Of Paradigm Agency, which is the reason I got with Paradigm is because someone from Austin? I think, I’m not even sure how this happened? This is how behind the scenes it is, and how many, and how much leg work they do. Don’t even know this, but I believe someone from Austin, distributed that list to some at, I think it was Denver Delila the production company, and sent me and sends it to a coordinator, at Paradigm? And the script was just sent out directly. And then I got signed for both TV and features based off of the script. So, that’s something you don’t know? Aside from money, besides the cool award, besides the conference. They just do a lot of leg-work for you. So, I highly recommend them to you.
And then for any LGTT story tellers there, not even story tellers. To be of a script, somewhat queer deals of queer themes. Of the first contest I ever won? Which really changed my life. Of which my confidence was the “AgFest Screenwriting Fellowship” Which is join the office from the small, which was the best, they will teach you. For one of my most favorite film festivals ever! It’s here in Los Angeles during summertime. That was great because that was like a four to five day workshop. Where I got to take off work, and you come in. And have mentors like, Don Woos, who did “The Opposites of Sex.” And has just written so many great films. A great mentor, Jeromy Stein, was my mentor. And ended up directing “A reading of Directing.” Every winning script gets to put on a reading for a Director’s Guild in Los Angeles. And it’s directed by a great director professionally. Actor’s Johnathan Cartwright, who played my great grandma, she’s from “Alien” played my grandma script, I apologize. And a, that was great, and just, it was, a great experience. But, for mentoring the scripts and helping it develop. And also dedicate it when you’re not there.
A, some other ones that were cool? The Big International Film Festival. That was fun, gotta go to that one, I think for a few days. Sizeable Chef, and you get like, free screenwriting programs. I also won the Screencraft Comedy Screenplay Contest. Which was another great one, it’s a sizable check, and I got to talk to one of the prizes. I talked to one of the, I didn’t know, O’Dell, he’s a screenwriter from Steinfeld. We talked on the phone for a while. And he read my script and gave me feedback. And then I did the Sundance Alternative Initiative. Which is for any indie film space. But it was a wonderful three days stint, up in Los Angeles. The hub of Sundance, right across from Latna. And I got to work with Joan Stroupsberry, with the movie “Nashville” just like a screenwriting hero, and legend. And for a day again, I had internships, then private sessions with Patrick Alverez, who directed, “The Stamford Prison Experiment.” And Kyle Kilian, who did “Lonestar” the TV series, and also wrote that Mel Gibson movie, “The Beaver.” So, that was another great opportunity. You know, you can’t really go wrong with these contest.
Ashley: I’m curious, you know, I get a lot of people, especially if they are new to the business. There’s this kind of idea, about if your script is good? It’ll be recognized. And there’s no hurtles to that. And I’m curious, you mention obviously Austin, is you know, one of the top contests. And you mention, the Nickels? Would you also enter the “Nickels” if you will not place in it? This script, I’m curious about it? There were some losses. The reason why I ask? Is so people can understand that? It’s not all just a bed of roses, even if you have a good script. There are going to be some set-backs.
Jared: I think the Nickel deadline is really early? So, I’m not always finished with the scripts by then? I gotta go back, I don’t know if the Nickel is right to apply for? I missed the deadline this year because I wanted to apply this year. I did not get some contests? I didn’t get “The Script Pipeline Contest.” Which is a popular one. I didn’t place in “Scriptapalooza.” Which I think, those are great contests as well.
Jared: Yeah, just, not everyone is going to enter or respond to your script for sure. And then I also only placed, I was a Semi-Finalist, or Quarter-Finalist through the “Health Grey Contest.” So, when that one, I win.
Ashley: Yeah. No. That’s good to hear. I appreciate you sharing that. I’m curious, just how you found all these contests? I mean, obviously there’s some of the bigger ones. But, you mention, I think it was like, “The Big Bear” this I have not heard of? How did you go about researching these contests and even finding them it enter?
Jared: The World Wide web. I just, I started at the internet. There’s a great page, and I wish I had remembered the address? I think people can just Google it. If you just Google Top 10 Writing Competitions, “Big Bear” is on there. It’s like one knot, one of, one of the most underrated ones you haven’t heard of. But, a, it’s a nice prize. And it’s a great trip up for a film festival close to L.A. They also did a reading of it there. And it’s smaller, but pretty fucking cool! No, wait, I also did not win “The American Zoetrop Award.” Oh, man, come back in my head. One of the ones I fucked up with. But, a.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I want to go back on something? You said you were working on a TV Show, “Chasing Life” and they let you write an episode on that. Maybe you could back-up a minute, and tell us? How did you actually do that job working on that show? Because I think that is always a question people have. How do you just kinda get that at first job in the business?
Jared: Whoa, so, actually my first job in the business? Did you know the show, “Bob’s Burgers?”
Jared: Okay, it’s a great animated show on FOX. And it was my favorite show. Like I said, I couldn’t get a job. So, I think the run advice would be, to be as ridiculously ballsy as possible! Because I literally stole, there’s this contact sheet that goes out to industry people with all the up coming shows that are next season’s television shows? And I basically stole this from there. With Emails, personal Emails, with resumes to every single show. And none of them wrote back. So, I was like, FUCK! I got a premium length account, which is for like $60.00 bucks and you can send like six inbox notices to anyone who has a link to the account. So, “Bob Burgers” is my favorite show, so I found the head of the animation studio at FOX Entertainment. And I sent a linkedIn message to him. And I was like, Hey, so listen, here, every time I let, I like a joke I write it down. Good jokes are read and the more you write them. The better you are at writing your own. So, he’s like, you’re all the jokes from “Bob’s?” All of my jokes, are walk your dog, make em’ shit, I’ll make your kid pb&J’s I’ll take to “Crossroads” Or whatever school? I mean, those kids. But, I didn’t know that at the time. Just give me a job that works. So, that’s how I got my first job, my first PA job. By scouring the victim, I think people don’t think good enough? But it’s a great way to reach out to them, a lot of different incentive. And then…
Ashley: No, that’s great advice. And that’s not something I’ve tried or heard? So, that’s great.
Jared: No, that’s great. And then, for “Chasing Lights” When I won the “Outpost Screenwriters Fellowship.” The Screenwriting Lab. That year, the opening film at the festival was called, “Life Partners.” And that is a great indie film. Written by wonderful Susanna and Joanie Luckowitz. And Susanna and I met at “Outfest Party.” And she had gone to Columbia a few years before me. You know, I knew of her through friends and that, like on my contact list. And I just went up to her and said, “Hello.” And like, we became sisters within five seconds. It was just like two peas in a pod. And she became my mentor. And she created the length. So, when I was in school, I got like an Email from her, being like, “Hey, we like need a Writers Assistant, who can like, write episodes. Because we have twenty episodes. And we have a smaller room. I’ve seen a bit, but I think you could help us out there.” And I said, “Sure.” And then eventually the episodes, were shortened to thirteen. So, I too the job because they were most likely going to cancel the show. But, because my show, one of Shawn’s nephews, got into the world and allowed me into the room and he liked my pitches. He helped me write the finale with him. So, it’s a bit of good luck and a bit of networking and seizing opportunities. Yeah.
Ashley: Okay, okay. Perfect. Let’s see, let’s move onto your agent. Now, you got this agent basically through the winning of the Austin Film Festival? I’m curious, what happened once you got the agent? Did he say, send you out on meetings? Maybe you could just talk about that relationship a bit? Kind of, again, I get a lot of people, just on, man, if I could just get an agent everything will open up and everything’ll be alright. This great working writer. It’ll shoot my career to the stratosphere. I’m always curious to get actual experiences. I mean, because this is a good agency, they’re certainly well connected. So, kinda curious to hear your story, once you signed, what happened then. And what sort of stuff did you do? And what did you get out of it?
Jared: Yeah. I actually got management before I got an agent. I got management about a, a little less than a year before actually. The previous summer, because once I learned out fest. Than after I was P.A.’ing. I optioned on of my animated comics. And I had no one to help strike that deal. So, I boxed up and ended up with a management company. That’s been wonderful, “Haven Entertainment.” So they were awesome, and they were sending me on some meetings. But, management started, didn’t quite have the breath that agents do? In terms of getting industry exposure. And one thing I’ve hear, first of all, Paradigm’s awesome! I’m just in love with them, and I have the greatest agents on TV. It’s Chris Lacotta and Allie Shift, features its, Phillips and it did sort of change my life in a way? And it kinda did break everything. Because I had, I’m always writing. Let me give some advice to everyone. You have to constantly be turning out material. So, you know, we have this great relationship, where I constantly give them new material. And they send me on all these awesome meetings very well. Again, they can’t get you a meeting if they. They didn’t have the contacts, or that person doesn’t respond to you. Or discrepancy, you’re not going to that meeting? So it’s a combination of being with the right agent, having the right scripts. I’ve gone on, I’ve signed, when I was on “Chasing Life” working all day. So, for the first few months, we at Paradigm, couldn’t really go on any meetings without a job. But, as soon as that ended, in late July. I just had like, meetings every day. And it’s, it really has changed my life. And, but again, it’s more, I’ve heard horror stories about great agencies, of agents that don’t, that aren’t passionate about one. And they don’t get on the things I just want. And I just won the lottery and my agents are really passionate about me. Because they’re crazy and I love them. But, no, it’s really about finding the agent that’s passionate about material. I tried to hand agents before-hand, when I didn’t work. Like when I first came out here and one terrible script and. You just don’t want to have an agent, who’s like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll take ya, around when I’m passionate about ya.” Because they’re not going to spend their time working on you. But it is really about trying ways to get that agent. Then screenwriting competitions.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Now, back-up a little bit, you said, you got this manager. But option was a pilot you optioned?
Ashley: And so, maybe you could take us through that? How did you get that TV pilot optioned?
Jared: So, um. Again, it was “Venovox Entertainment.” So I was a PM who manages “Bob’s Burgers.” And did “Fickleberry.” And now they have this new show, “Boarder Town.” And a new show “Legend.” And they’re offered. And I love animation, it’s really great work and then, out here. But after winning the “Austin Screenwriting Lab” the L.A. Times did a little write-up in all the winner’s scripts. And a great friend of mine, Kathy Rostern who is not with NetFlix but she was the Assistant to the Head of Development. At my agent at Venovox, she was just kind of a guardian angel. And we became fast friends there. Once she found this article, and found out I’d won this contest, she let her boss know. And her boss asked if I’d ever animated any scripts before? You know, we’ve got this PA who’s won this writing contest. See if he’s got anything we may be able to use. Which is also a really, just unique story. Because he’s such a great guy. But, Zacky had this pilot of mine called, “Marathoners” and optioned it out. I was like, juggling copies, making copies, when then they called me into his office. He’s such a, it was such a, like a big red powerful guy at the company, I was like a little pee-on. Well, I’m definitely getting fired! I’d sent something to20th when it should have gone to 30th. Looking back, and now I’m going to get my head chopped off. But he was like, no, I love this piece of writing you did. Let’s try and make a cartoon together. And a, even though inevitably did not end up selling anywhere? It got me management, it was a nice little chunk of change. And yeah, it just kind of, it was my first time pitching. It was amazing, then, it’s just like being nice to people. It’s like write all the time, be nice to everyone you meet. Be that good person who you would want to help out. And apply to contests.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I’m curious when you talk about, you know, they sort of call it, “The Water Bottle Tour.” Where you don’t attend all these meetings. And it sounds like you’re doing a lot. What has come out of those? Have you started to get some jobs just making connections?
Jared: Totally. So, I, a, so. Well, I was commissioned to write a dance pitch of mine. A summer time dance movie. That would be along the lines of “Step Up” and “Pitch Perfect 2.” Mason Novac Development Fund. That was a management meeting that they set me up on. The agents, I mean, it’s everything. I’ve gone out for staffing meetings, developing with these a, great producers. To, I, a lot of things now, I’m hesitant to talk about? It’s like in the early stages. But, yet, things out of the things all the time. Whether it’s staffing, or development, or all of the above. It is a “Water Bottle Tour.” But again, it’s up to you. They can only get your feet in the door, when you sell yourself. Then they like your script and they, the executive, the coordinator, development person, is sitting across from you. What else do you have? If you have those ideas and the pitches, and the script. So, those kinds of stories prepared. Then it’s up to you, to kind of get the ball moving. Yeah, meetings are what you make of them. So, as the writer, as the talent. So, yeah, sometimes people don’t like generals. But generals can very quickly turn into pitch men, very independent, depending on what you’ve prepared? So,
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m curious, you mentioned three months was your first screenplay. And then you also mentioned? You, your constantly writing. How many scripts would you say you’ve written at this point? Pilots, and features?
Jared: So, I’ve written about three movies, two of them dance movies. Two completely different versions. Of a similar idea of a dance movie. And then, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 pilots, I think?
Ashley: Okay. I’m just curious just to kind of get a scope as kind of a scope of what you are talking about? Yeah, and how many over the course of how many years is that?
Ashley: Okay, okay. You’re pumpin’ this stuff out. So let’s talk a little about three months? And this Black List sample read. That’s how you and I got in touch. They are doing this table read of three months. Maybe you can walk us through that process? How do you kinda get on the radar of the Black List? And what exactly did you do to get this table read from the Black List?
Jared: So, the Black List has this great thing called – Black List Online. Which is where writers themselves can upload their scripts be it a tele-play or screenplay. Then on their website, you can purchase evaluations from industry insiders who rate your script. Then based on those ratings, reviews and what you categorize your script at? Industry people can use this hub of scripts to hunt and find the next thing that’s out there? And I uploaded three months, like way before any of this happened. Maybe when I first applied to these screenwriting competitions. I upload my script, and Franklin was at the Austin Film Festival. And was sitting on the bus next to you. The screenplay judge, who talked about my script. Will be, but he didn’t mean it because he wasn’t on allowed to? And then I think Franklin looked at, like, some of the people who had won these contests on the website. And it was a mixture of him finding the script himself after being on his website because of these competitions. And also, my script was voted by the industry rated, it was the top five drama scripts and the top five comedies scripts on the website, simultaneously. And I opted, and the great thing about the Black List online is? You can opt into all these programs that they have set-up. The Black List, there’s the digital writers network that I opted into, that I’m a finalist for currently. There’s the Sundance Diverse Initiative, which I opted into, score. So, those things happened, then he reached out and hey, we’re doing this Podcast. You’ve ha d success on the website. You’ve had success on the contest competitions, I read your script, I love it, do you want to do it? So it was kind of a little mixture of different elements and components. But,
Ashley: When you up loaded the script or originally, did you buy two reviews? Like how did you kind of get the ball going?
Jared: I did. So here’s the thing? I am a low expense type of person. And, a friend of mine, first PA job, Chris Wilming, great guy. Now works for the Disney show. But, he said something, because I was like, “Ohhh!” Screenwriting competitions and there’s entry fees, and there’s the Black List and like there’s these for all this stuff. And he’s like, “There’s no better way to spend your money, if this is what you want to do? Then buying the opportunity to take chances on yourself. And I really took that to heart. So, you know, if it’s a matter of not getting wasted one weekend instead of $1000.00 in terms of your friends. Or rather like, I ended up taking paychecks and creating like a little screenwriters editing fund for myself. Where I can dip into without any guilt. And submit to these contests, and pay for Black List scripts in. A lot of the time, like when those contests are lost, there’s like a hundred bucks gone. But you don’t always owe them, hopefully? So that’s, I did buy those evaluations.
Ashley: And how many did you buy, originally? You bought newer.
Jared: I bought two. And when they started to get good reviews, they kept finding more. Because I was like someone with industry insight. There was reading the script right? So, it was like, yeah, big bucks, but it was like someone who was like, liking this. If it was, like, if my reviews were shit, and they were like, “Go home.” And you’re like “You’re garbage.” I probably would have been like, “Fuck you!” and would not have thought any more of it. But, it was great feedback, which is just so invaluable. But when it’s positive, and when it’s constructive to have it help you improve upon your story telling. I mean, yeah, it worked out for me.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. So how can people keep up with you? I’m going to put a link to all that stuff. I want to get the Outfit Contest, that’s not a contest though? I mentioned in the big, I will track down those links so people can find those on the show notes. And I’ll get the actual Podcast episode to our link to that in the show notes. How did people keep up with you? And just follow along with what you’re doing? Do you have a blog, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, anything you feel comfortable sharing, I will also put that in the show notes.
Jared: Yeah, so I’m not a share social media person, but I’m trying to be better? But it’s, my Twitter handle, my InstaGram, and Facebook page, it’s all my name – Jared Frieder.
Jared: Okay, keep it simple.
Ashley: Facebook and Twitter.
Jared: And InstaGram, but…
Ashley: And InstaGram, okay.
Jared: Those are just like ratchet photos of my being ridiculous, so…
Ashley: Okay, so Jared, it’s been a great interview, lots of, you know, tactical advice, as well as some inspirational stuff. So I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me.
Jared: Thank you so much for having me, this was awesome.
Ashley: Thank you and good luck to you.
Jared: You too.
Ashley: Thanks, talk to ya later.
Ashley: A quick plug for the SYS Screenwriting Analysis Service. It’s a real economical way to have a high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy a three pack, you get evaluations, it’s $67.00 per script for full length feature films. And just $55.00 for tele-plays. All of the readers have professional experience reading for: Studios, production companies, contests and agencies. You can read a short bio on each reader on the website, on our website. And you can pick the one you think is the best fit for your script. Turn-around-time is usually just a few days, but rarely no more than a week. The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors.
- Over All Craft – Which includes: Formatting, spelling, and grammar.
Everybody will get a grade of – Pass, Consider, or Recommend. Which should help you roughly understand where your script might land, if you might go and submit it to a production company or agency. We provide analysis on feature and television scripts. And we also do proof-reading without any analysis. We will also look at treatment and outline and do the same analysis on it. So, if you’re looking to vet some of your project ideas? This is a great way to do it. We will also write a log-line and synapsis for you. And add this service for the analysis or you can simply purchase this service as a stand-alone product. And as a bonus, if your script gets a “Recommend” from a reader, you get a free Email and Fax Blast to my list of Industry contacts. This is the exact same Blast service I use myself to promote my own script. And it’s the same service I sell on the website. It’s a great way to get your script into the hands of producers who are looking for new material. So, if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay, at a very reasonable price. Check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview of Jared Frieder. I think there are lots of lessons from this interview.
First, I never heard of a screenplay getting so many accolades. He consistently got good scores on the Black Listing. Consistently won contests, so, that’s awesome for him and for his script. So, most of us, and I include myself in this. We are never going to get these sorts of consist awards with a screenplay. What he did was exactly what Del recommended on this Podcast. And it’s exactly what I recommend you not do in segment #100. So, this is worth noting. He wrote something wholly original and his experience. And again, you’re kind of wondering what I’m talking about? Go back and listen to the last third of episode 100? And potential those episodes with Corey Mandell as well. Corey Mandell is as exactly what he said, write something wholly original and unique to your own experience. And that’s exactly what he did and it worked out well for him. So, that’s exactly the strategy for he recommends. It’s exactly what worked for him. So, I think one thing, to note is, I think his writing is probably pretty extraordinary. So, that’s worth checking out. “The Table Read,” you can actually hear this script being read. I would definitely go and do that. I’m planning on going and doing it. Just interviewed him a few days ago. So I have not had time to go and actually listen to the screenplay and the Black List table read. But I’ve got it downloaded on my IPod, on my IPhone. And I definitely gonna listen to that in the next few days. Really try to understand why this script got so many positive reviews? Listen to it, listen and really try to use some critical thinking about why you think this script, it got all these reviews? Consistently good reviews on the Black List.
How I’ve put my own scripts up on the Black List, I have definitely not gotten consistently gotten good reviews. Thought it’s worth taking note why a script doesn’t, and the Black List does just a win contest. And consistently get good reviews on the Black List. But I still think there are lots of great
take-aways from this interview. Even if we all can’t write a script that is this good. I think there are lots of things that are good, that can help all of us.
First, the whole bit about winning is a great practical tip that anyone can, who is listening to this Podcast can use. Paid for the up-grade to link the account like Jared did and start trying to network people in the industry, that’s a great tip. That’s not something I have ever done. But it’s something you might want to check out?
Also think about what Jared did in terms of budgeting his money. I really like what Jared said about that. I get a lot of Emails from people who are down to their last penny. And they’re thinking about trying to use my Email and Fax Blast service. This is a terrible idea. You never want to spend money on these services. And my own services included. If you can’t afford to lose it. Screenwriting is highly specialized. The odds are you’re not going to get a return of it. At least in the short term of that money. So, if you are down to your last penny, spend it on foods, spend it on rent, don’t spend it on trying to blast it at your screenplay.
But the biggest take-away, for me, is just how his career ultimately unfolded and came together. It wasn’t any single thing he did? It was the collage of many things combined that pushed him forward each step of the way. He was entering when he entered contests, he was linked in to get a level PA job. And to be clear too, it was listen to the description of his job at his company. You know, he was working as a Production Assistant that was the lowest job in the entertainment industry. He was literally getting executives their coffees. So, he was starting at the bottom. But, because he was writing and entering these contests. I’m sure he was telling his friends at the company, people were talking. And there were contest wins that lead to him getting this meeting with the Head of Development at this company. So, you know, it wasn’t the one individually. There’s working in the industry, that wasn’t just a, winning the contest. It was the combination of the two. That actually got him entered, from his manager. That actually led to getting him, his first professional option. And helping him write, and his first professional credit. And it also led him to get his literary managers. So, it’s really a combination of many things combined. It’s not just one thing, winning contests. It’s not just one thing of working in the industry. It’s a combination of the two things.
Hopefully, two I practice what I preach. I’m working to raise money for a script I wrote. I’m sure next year I am doing some paid writing assignments. I’m doing a spec. TV Show. And I’m marketing a bunch of my spec. scripts too. I have several outstanding options right now. So, um, I’m pushing forward on several projects at the same time as well. Hoping to take my career to the next level. And I just really think that all levels of the entertainment industry, this is what you do. Probably all the way up to Stephen Spielberg. He’s probably got lots of different things thing? And when something comes together, you just never know how those cards are going to break? You’ve got to have many, many projects in the work. You’ve got to be, you know, fighting battles on many fronts, light many torches, and get as many irons in the fire as possible. So, I think that’s great what Jared did and I think it’s great advice for anybody else. So, keep this in mind when you’re writing scripts and entering contests. That might not be enough? I hope it works out for ya buddy! But it might not be? You might have to go a little deeper than just entering contests. Enter contest, enter, you know, scripts on the Black List, put them on Ink Tip, put them on my Email and Fax Blast Service.
As many things as you can do. You know, working in the industry. I talk about this a lot on the Podcast. Working in the industry, really. Is like the single biggest thing you can do to advance your career. So, keep that in mind too. It’s not possible for you to do that for whatever reason? Then you’ve got to pursue some of these other avenues a little more aggressively.
Anyway, put Jared on your radar, I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. So, we’ll be tracking that. And hope he’ll come back for an update in a little while when he’s got some more projects going? I think it’s really worth kinda keeping an eye on what he’s doing and following his story.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.