This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 188: Writer/Director Jared Cohn Talks About His Latest Horror Feature, Devil’s Domain.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #188 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.”
I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Writer/Director, Jared Cohn. He’s done a number of horror films, horror, thriller, films. We talk about his most recent film, “Devil’s Domain.” Jared’s very down to earth. And we talk through exactly how he got his career going. Just to give you some perspective, he’s directed about 15 films in the last 3 years. Coincidentally, I talked with the writers on two of those films, one was called, “The Hoard” that’s episode #129, the other other was called, “Little Dead Riding-hood.” And that was episode #113. Jared has lots of great advice. So, stay tuned for that interview.
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Any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with each episode. In case you would rather read the show or look up something else up later-on. You can find all transcripts and show notes on the website, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and look for episode #188.
If you would like my free guide, “How to Sell Your Screenplay in 5 Weeks?” You can pick that up by going to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your Email address and I’ll send you a new lesson, once a week for 5 weeks. Along with a bunch of free bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional log-line and quarry letter. How to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for new material. It really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
I just want to mention quickly, about my writer’s group quite often on the Podcast. We’re looking to add a couple of good writers to the rotation. We meet every Tuesday at 7:15p.m. till about 10:00p.m. in Sherman Oaks California. It’s right around where the I405 and the 101 intersect. Here’s how it works? Each week 3 members writers put up about 25 pages of screenplay that they are currently working on. The pages are read on stage by professional actors in front of the other writers in the group. And then the listening writers give notes to the writers who are representing pages when the night is finished. It’s a great way to work up material, network with other talented writers and actors. And hone your critical thinking skills by giving the other writers feedback, and notes on their material. As a member writer, you will be putting up pages, roughly every 5 weeks. It’s a great way to workshop material, network with other talented actors and writers. And hone your critical thinking skills, by giving notes to other writers. This is a live, in person event. So, you need to live somewhere near Sherman Oaks California. To be able to attend. If you’re not in the Los Angles area? Perhaps consider starting a starting writers group of your own. Nearly every city in the world has a community of film makers, and writers.
And in most cases they are just looking for someone to step up and be a leader and get things organized. The one big stumbling block for people is, with this writers group is? Is that you have to be committed to showing up nearly every Tuesday. Even when you’re not presenting pages. That way you can give notes to the other writers. It’s a very symbiotic relationship, when you put your pages out, the other writers give you notes, and then, when they put up pages, you give them notes. So, you know, you’re only up presenting pages once every 5 weeks. But, you still need to be there almost every single Tuesday, just to be a part of this group and participate and give feedback to.
If you would like to find out more about the group, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/writersgroup. That’s all one word, it’s just writers group, just all one word, tacked onto sellingyourscreenplay.com. Again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/writersgroup. I will of course link to it in the show notes as well.
A quick few words about what I am working this week. Once again, I’m still working on post-production of my crime action thriller, feature film. “The Pinch.” Things are still moving along slowly. Last week I met with the editor, and we started to work to incorporate some of the special effects shots into our time-line. We ran into a few technical glitches. Nothing technical, or terrible. But, a few shots just need to be re-exported. That was just some co-deck issues, some sizing issues, just a few of the effects shots, as I said, just need to be re-exported and then we will be able to import them properly to our time line. I’m still talking to re-mixers, trying to find someone, who can do the final sound mix on this. But, I’m still waiting for my dialog editor, obviously. We can’t do the final sound mix until the dialog edit is complete. I’m hoping that will be completed this week.
On the writing front, I’m deep into writing my gritty thriller TV show that I mentioned last week. As I mentioned, I’ve finished the Bible. That was really the first step, was writing the show bible. I finished that piece, and now I’m just working on the actual pilot episode. Churning out pages of, every day. I think I’ve got about 10 pages of the 60-page pilot. So, hoping to finish out in the next few weeks, on that pilot.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing Writer/Director Jared Cohn, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Jarod to, the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Jared: You know what? Thanks so much, for having me. And you know, a big fan of you and the Podcast. And everything that you do, you know, for writers and film makers.
Ashley: Thank you, thank you. So, to start out, maybe you can give us a little bit of background about yourself? Where did you grow up, and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Jared: I’m from New York, originally. And I didn’t really know, exactly where I wanted to do? Until about, college. And I took an interest in the entertainment industry. And specifically, you know, writing. And I had a, I was also interested in acting.
And so, I moved to Los Angeles California, to pursue both. And obviously, as you know, if you are trying to get in touch with acting and writing. You’re going to have a lot of free time. And so, I really, my focus quickly drifted to writing. And I just sort of fell into it and really took a you know, a passion for it. Was watching movies, reading quite a few scripts, read the books, you know, Sid Field, and you know, “Save the Cat”
Ashley: Yeah, “Save the Cat.” Blake Snyder, “Save the Cat” yeah.
Jared: And also, now, also Robert McKeys, always trying to learn. Always trying to watch great movies. And you know, just as much, most importantly, is to write. I think that, you can almost be spending most of your time at, seminars, meetings, and reading scripts, and watching movies. But, at the end of the day. If you know, you have to just write. Plant yourself in front of
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Jared: Your computer.
Ashley: Yeah, that’s exactly why that’s exactly, don’t get discouraged. In fact, listening to Podcasts, just keep on, keep on writing.
Jared: Listen to your Podcast!
Ashley: So, let’s talk about your L.A. move a little bit. A lot of people Emailing me. Hey, can I make it work from outside of L.A.? How did you know it was a good place to live? Just general L.A. where did you come out with this? It sounds like you were the typical story to. Was to graduate from college, threw everything in a truck, just drove out here. What did you have out in L.A. already? Did you have friends. Did you have, you know, a few bucks in the bank so you could get an apartment. Just maybe describe that? And where did you ultimately end up living that first apartment you found.
Jared: I had one friend that was actually my roommate in Boston, who was an actor. And now he’s a pretty successful actor. And he was the only person that I knew. And so, yeah, I basically put everything in my car. I drove out. I’m fortunate enough that I had, my parents were somewhat supportive, and were able to help me out in the early days. So, I a, I did work, quite a few part-time jobs as well. To sort of not be completely reliant. But, you know, as I progressed. And worked more. That, you know, I was able to save myself. And, you know. But yeah, know one person and that’s such an important thing, is knowing people. Because the people that hire for you. The people that if you are writing a script. That you have someone to read the script. Then producers. But yeah,
Ashley: Where did you end up? Where did you end up in Los Angeles?
Jared: I was in, originally? In West L.A. near Brentwood, Westwood. But, to address your previous question? About whether people, it can become a successful screenwriters, not living in L.A. I would recommend going to L.A. There was actually another great book I read,
“How to Write Movies for Fun and Profit. With the word “Fun” crossed out. It was about the southpaw guy. And the first thing they say in the book is? Move to Los Angeles. Which I think is important because it is the entertainment, movie, television, capital of the world. And that’s where you’ll have the best chance of connecting with people. That said, yes you can. Become a successful screenwriter living outside of Los Angeles. I just feel, it would be in your best interest to go to Los Angeles. Because it is such a tough nut to crack. And you’re giving yourself the benefit of the better odds by being around the production companies. And able to go to the
“Pitch Fests”, Which I’ve done numerous times. Where I’ve met some great contacts. And I’ll say, I’m always keep that sort of, you know, that hungry attitude. Of you know, wanting to connect with more people. Expand the circle of contacts. So, I think these are all important things to do. You know, when you’re not in L.A. you’re sort of limited to, tracking people down on IMDb Pro, and sending Emails, and phone calls, and screenwriting competitions. Which are all great things. Which I would still say, if you are in Los Angeles, to do. But, you want to be where the action is. Otherwise you’re limited, to the things you can do.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s just describe the first couple of months. What did you do? You went and landed in L.A. and how did you actually start to turn this into a career. What were some of those things you just mentioned, “Pitch Fest” you know, quarry letters, all that stuff. And maybe just run us through some of those first, sort of beginning steps. And what things worked, and what things didn’t work? And finally how did you get that, maybe that first inclining of a break?
Jared: Well, the beginning was rough. I got to be honest with you. There was very little activity. I was much younger. And there was a lot of why did I do this? Anx, anxiety, possible did I make the right decision? But, eventually after you sort of go through that. That was a pretty tough time. You know, you sort of got to pick yourself up. And rise, and some people have great success, very early on. But, I again, you know, if that is, you know a lot of people. If you happened to be fortunate enough to be born into an entertainment family. But, for me it was really a lot of self motivation. Sitting in front of my computer, and just writing. And what really helped me actually, get my first sort of break was? The people that I met at, as an actor. Being on set, interacting with directors. And the first script. I mean I had sold the script. We made this movie of a very, very, small amount, micro-budgeted films called, “Legend Has it.” And I actually sold it to, it was a sound mixer, on a movie, as that I was an actor on. And we went ahead, he like he wanted me to write the script on. I sent him a script that I had written prior. But it was an action script, and he wanted a horror script. So, he than commissioned me to write a horror script, and I wrote that. But, that really didn’t lead to, to much other things. So, I kept writing, and I kept pursuing the acting. And I was fortunate enough to get cast in a movie by the production company, “The Asylum.” Most known for “Sharkanado” and “Z Nation.” So, I kept writing scripts, and I reached out to David Remawly, who is one of the partners at
“The Asylum.” And I kept sending it, you know, I sent him the script. Then it was one of those things where it’s you know, every 2 weeks. You send an Email, “Hey, did you get the chance to read my script?” And eventually he did, and he liked it. And I remember the phone call that I got. When Colin called and said, “Read your script, I really liked it, what do you want to do?”
And at the time I was acting way back in New York. Because I lived in L.A. for 5 or 6 years. Then after, sort of needed a break, went back to New York for a few years, to finish up college at film school. But, I was writing, never stopped writing. I always just kept this fire in me, and kept writing. And that’s when I got the phone call, when I was in New York. And then immediately of course he wants to talk about it. Funny, the next day, I’m sitting in front of him. And it was interesting, because at the time I was still, you know, still interested in acting. And then, I was also interested in directing, and he had asked me. If I had wanted to direct, or play the lead? Which I originally wrote, I had been writing scripts, a lot of them. For me to play the lead. Which I think is a great, a lot of people would be like we’ll say or argue otherwise. Oh, writing great script don’t worry. Don’t write ever role, don’t write the lead role for yourself. But, I recently learned and sort of had a realization that. If you do write an actor, and you do it right. A role for yourself that you want to play? Most likely it’s going to be a really good role. Because you want to play, you want the role that’s going to be the role of a lifetime. It’s going to advance your career. So, if you have that in mind. Whether or not you play the role or not? It’s going to be a good character. So, I think that’s one thing that writers can do is think. What, is this a role that if I get the script to a main actor, that they are going to want to play it too. Because it’s a good role. Obviously, it’s written to be a career making role. So, you should play every role to be actor they say. So, I kinda went back to that model. Even whether or not I want to play the role. But you want that role, you want an actor to read it. And be like, and that’s what gets me to have these made. Is if you can attract a star main actor, and they read the script. And they’re like, this is a role that I want to play. This is a really good fleshed out character. And if you get a big named actor attached. Then most likely the movie will be made. That’s just how it works in this town, actors greenlight movies, you know. A producer who knows these actors, can get the movie. But you’ll just need a big actor. And in some instances, a producer will say, great script for making it we’re definitely going to make it. And then we’re definitely going to make you know, cash offers to actors, and find the actor. And in many instances producers are not necessarily half funded will say, I need to get an actor attached. And then I can take it to the investor, or one of them to hire with money.
Ashley: I want to touch on something you mentioned. You said, you reached out to this guy from Asylum. Maybe you could describe exactly what that is? Was that like a cold Email, where you went on IMDb Pro, found this guy. Or was it through some sort of personal connection? You knew someone who knew someone, who knew him?
Jared: Well, I was an actor, got cast, I got cast in it, in an Asylum movie. I actually wound up doing, I wound up cast in one movie, and wound up doing 4 Asylum movies, as an actor. And due to that, I wound up doing the initial audition, booking the role. And continuing to get hired by The Asylum. I had developed the personal relationship, with the producer. And it was because of that, that I was able to Email him. And say, “Hey, it’s Jared Cohn.” You know, he knew me at that point. So, and I was like, hey, I’ve got a script, I have a script. And I always say, and tell screenwriters, that are trying to get a screenplay read. That you have to shove the screenplay down their throat. Which means, just be persistent. Because people don’t want to read screenplays. It’s almost like asking them to watch your baby for a year. It is so difficult, it’s still difficult to get a producer because there’s so many scripts, these producers are inundated. And the big producers are getting scripts from the big agencies. So, if you’re not a big name writer. And you’re trying to get a producer to read a script, without a personal connection.
Or without winning a big contest where people are championing your script. Then, it’s just always going to be an up hill battle. And there’s no consistent path that you can take. So, I was lucky enough, to, the acting really kinda helped me with my screenwriting career. Which is, everyone has their own path, to get, to become working writer. And for me, that was just how it sort of happened for me.
Ashley: And what was the name of that film?
Jared: That was, “Born Bad.” But I’ll back-up a little bit. I wrote the script, it was called, “Spaghetti Denny.” And it was a bad boyfriend. It was a charming boyfriend, who turns out to be, you know, very evil. And eventually, after working with the development at The Asylum. We shaped it for Bite Time, the network, the TV Network. And eventually they liked the script. We made them a movie, I wound up directing the movie. And that really helped my directing as well. Which lead to other opportunities. And it’s called now, “Born Bad.”
Ashley: And let’s talk about just a minute, about directing, this feature. Because, that’s another question I get often is? Hey, I wrote this script how can I keep myself attached as a director? Have you directed a lot of film stuff, before “Born Bad?” Like you had some sort of resume you could show them. Or really you could show them as a director?
Jared: So, probably as a director, on “Born Bad.” I directed one movie. And of course nobody is going to fund your film unless you’re coming out of AFI, or a prestigious film school, or anything. Or you got a short, or whatever? I directed one feature and I took out pretty much every dollar I had of my bank account. And fortunately, my family contributed some money. And I made this one film called, “The Carpenter” as a horror film. Which of course usually, a horror film when it’s, when you have a small budget. And when I was in conversations with
The Asylum. They, I remember, they asked me, they go, well, have you directed anything? And I said, “Yes, here’s a DVD of “The Carpenter.” And that was, and I was very glad I did that. Because had I not done that film? I might not had, had the opportunity to direct, “Born Bad.” So, I would definitely recommend to anyone that wants to direct, to direct something? You know, even a short film, you know. Direct a 7 minute, 5 minute, a short that shows that you can work with actors. That you can get quality, that you are able to make a quality something. You have to have at least one thing, or else you’re completely untested, unimprovement. And no one’s going to want to feel confident or comfortable investing in a lot of money in someone who hasn’t directed anything.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure, very sound advice. So, let’s talk about “The Devil’s Domain” you know, for a minute. Maybe to start out, you can kind of just give us a quick pitch or a log-line for that film?
Jared: That movie is basically about a depressed girl, who is obsessed with social media. Who is, you know, she’s a lesbian, who is in high school. And sort of gets bullied, or you know, her sexual orientation. And then she through a chance, you know, meets a very mysterious stranger. Who actually turns out to be the devil. Who offers her, the opportunity to get vengeance on those who cyber, who bully her. And cyber bully her. Although, of course the, there is always, you know, a hook. You know, since she’s so pure and innocent, I a, I don’t want to do any spoiler. But, the devil wants something in return, of course. And you know, after some contemplation. She agrees and kinda regrets making that decision. But, she’s also obsessed with media, and fame, and social media. And so, she goes, and she’s very much interested in online, and millennial. And it sorta touches on, cyber bullying, bullying in social media. And LGBT themes. And, it’s also a horror movie. Because you know what? It has the revenge angle. So, it’s an interesting thing. It got reviewed pretty well, and, I wrote the script. And I directed the movie. And, yeah, I’m proud of it. We did it for, it was a low-budget film. But, you know, we did the best we can with resources we had. And yeah, I’m proud of it. It came out in May, at the tail end of May. And, yeah, it’s pretty.
Ashley: Perfect. Let’s talk about your writing process. And it can be specific to
“The Devil’s Domain” or just sort of in general. And how much time, and it sounds like that was a lot of themes, there was a lot of dramatic stuff with something like “Devil’s Domain.” And how much time do you spend creating your outline, mulling things over, creating your outline. Versus, how much time do you spend actually in Final Draft, you know, churning out pages.
Jared: It’s funny. You sort of go through, you know, each script I sold, would have a different. Not each script, but, you know, you, earlier scripts I’ve sold. Do these much more detailed outlines. And certain companies I’ve worked for require an initial one paragraph pitch. And then, you know, when that give it that approved, you can move onto a one page you know, sorta that outline and that. And then everyone, there’s force back and forth on everything. And then once that gets approved. You go on to an 8 act treatment. And you know, that’s much more detailed. Of course there’s notes and back and forth in one, once that gets approved. Then you are able to start writing the screenplay. So, that’s one thing, that’s one method I’ve. Sometimes I’ve adapted to the script that I write on spec. And in other times, I have an idea, and I’ll literally write half a page that’ll, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you’ll always need that. You’ll always need your ending. And you have something, a few things that you want to, incorporate. Or whether or not, some of these micro-budget movies, that I continue to produce myself, with my producing partners. We’ll have a location, a specific location that we are writing for. That we aren’t, or that we can get for a good deal. So, sometimes I’ll just write, I’ll just literally write half a page, you know, half a page of outline for myself. Knowing, whether it’s not going to be other people that are going to be giving me notes, until the script is done. So, I’ll write that and I’ll dive right into the final draft. And then what I do is? I’ll write 15, you know, 10-15 pages. And then I’ll go back, and read them, you know, read the 15 pages. And then go back to the outline, as it sort of shapes organically. And then write another little outline, that’s from that, you know, from that 15 pages in mind. You know, that will take me to the next, you know, another 15-20 pages. And then I’ll write those pages, you know, get everything, see where I’m at, see what characters develop. See what sort of shaping up or down the tree. And then I’ll write another continue it out. So, it’s sort of like I have two outlines, the beginning, the middle, and the end. But then, as I start writing it, and announce the characters, shape up and I’ll continue the outline process while writing this screenplay. Which I find is, good for me. Because the way my process is, I’ll write an outline, and then I’ll start writing. And then I’m like, well this outline is not anything of what. And then if you’re so locked into this outline, you’re trying to write, and make it organic. Sometimes it doesn’t always line up. And you’re like, well, this character, well this doesn’t work? I’m going to have to go with this new direction. But, if you stick to your outline. But, they have to hit this point, you know. How am I going to get everything to that point?
In a logical way that works. So, for me, I like this sort of simultaneous, you know, there’s a very lose visual outline, beginning, middle, end. And just dive in, and going back to the outline. And that, you know, is sort of been an interesting process that developed on it’s own. I would have never have came up with that. But that might be something that you know, the listeners can attempt to do. Because it’s often times you’ll spend months working on this outline. And then once you get to, I mean, it there is a lot of logic behind, you know, writing an extremely detailed outline. And using index cards, and charts, and graphs. I do want to do that, and sort of see if that works, fully flushed out characters. And you stand-up and you act out the dialog. But, I think my acting background, I sort of you dialog in my head on it’s own. I don’t know if that would necessarily be of a benefit to me too much? I still do want to get and give that approach a shot. Because I think, I really, really, want to, I’m always trying to improve my writing. And I think there is 2 ways to really write, the Master, Epic! Script that you know, is going to take people to the next level. And that’s either, maybe you do this extremely detailed outline with a great idea, you know, based on a true story. Or something that can win an Academy Award. Or, you know, you sort of dive in and you write the script. And in any instance. You’re going to be rewriting the hell out of it. And what I’m doing now is? The script I’m writing is, I plan on producing. I’m writing it, I’m rewriting it. And then I use these, you know, coverage services, and there is a lot of them. There’s one that I use quite a bit. And I would really like the notes that they give. I’ll go back and forth, with them, ya know. They charge you, like $150.00 you know bucks or so? But, it’s totally worth it. Because you want professional. Because if you send your script to your friend, or your family. They don’t know, they’re gonna be like, Oh, yeah, great we love it. A” You know, but you want it to be read by a professional reader. Who’s going to basically tell you, and tear it apart, and tell you, this thing sucks! And this doesn’t work. But, you can do this to make it better. And then you know. But , you don’t want to live and die by there with or at somebody else’s notes. Because, what can happen is, you take their notes and it’s not meshing with what you have in mind. But, there are probably some good points that they the readers make. And so, I’m gearing up, to send it to them. But, you want to make sure that it’s as best as you feel it can be, before sending it out to a cover service. A. Because you’re going to be spending the money. But, it’s a worth-while investment. If you have a producer to contact. Or you’re going to be entering it into screenwriting competitions, going to “Pitch Fest.”
You want your script to be in a place that, is a really good place that has been critiqued by a professional reader. And that’s another thing, let me just touch upon, professional readers. Because there is not profession, and you can call them, professional readers. But, professional readers usually some, it’s a low-level position that I have heard of with a production company. But, usually a writer, that is just looking to tear apart the script. I was a reader for a while. And it’s very tough, because, who knows? Who knows who knows what their
sense-abilities are? You may send them a horror script, they may hate horror. But at the same time, you may send it to another reader, who thinks, oh, this is great, I get it, you know, they have to get it. So, it’s a crap shoot, and that’s why, nobody knows? People spend $100’s of Millions of dollars, on some of those movies aren’t good, and they bomb, they are bad. So, and they’ve had, you know, committees, and many readers. So, either everything’s subjective, and there is marketing literally. And maybe the movie was great. But it, just bombed because, you know, they didn’t market it right. Or, the timing was wrong. So, it’s very tricky, to get to be, you know, one of those top writers. It’s just a brutal industry. You know, and I hate to, but we all know that.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, let’s talk about getting devil’s domain produced. Before we started recording, you said that, that was kind of a paid assignment, that you were brought in on. Maybe you can describe that relationship. And how you were able to get in the position that you’re getting hired to write and direct it, a feature film like this?
Jared: Well, I was introduced to the record company by a producer that I’d worked with several times. And I’d hired, a shout out to, David Sterling for making that connection. And should out to Brian Harrarah, the producer who believed in me to write this script. And it was their idea, they had this idea. They had the idea, sorta based off of a true story. About a girl, a young girl who is cyber bullied, who wants to get revenge. And they had this idea. And they were like, alright, well, write a pitch. You know, write me, you know, round up a few pages. They weren’t very specific about how long the pitch was? And so, I wrote this pitch, and the producer liked it. They ended up liking it. And then like, okay, we’ll write the script. And I wrote the script. And you know, they handed out some notes. They had given me at that point. And I had directed and written, you know, movies for a long time, Showtime, MTV, SyFy. So, luckily I had a body of work, to were like, okay, we know this guy is confident, competent writer, director. So, it’s really, you know, it really helps out. The bigger, the better track record you have, the easier it is to put together people, to believe that you’re, you know, are capable. So, that really helped then and that’s kinda how that happened then, for that script.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So, maybe just some parting advice for screenwriters. What would you recommend. If someone is fresh to L.A. And they are in that early stages. What would you recommend they do?
Jared: A couple of things. Say, always continue to write, you know, make up. If you really want to be a writer. I know writers that have written, you know, 80,100, over 120 plays. They wake-up, they treat it as if it were a 9-5 job. Or 9-8 job, you know, whatever? And they just, every day, they wake-up, they write, you know, take a look, a walk around the block, go to a park, come back to your script. You know, get coverage, go to “Pitch Fest” write every day. But also, almost as important, or just as important, or more important. Is, your mental state. Because writing is a very lonely, dark, place, you’ll find yourself. At home, or at a coffee shop, staring at your computer. Not having any contacts, writing the scripts on spec. And have them met, have a need of persistence and you need mental strength. And it’s so important because you can really fall into a depression, you know, which I’ve went through, several times. Because it’s so lonely, and it’s just you. You not going to have a support system. Have some writer friends, and it’s very important to have that. But, at the end of the day, they’re not going to be the ones hitting the keys, it’s going to be you, it’s going to be you by yourself. It’s always you by yourself. And you can collaborate, I never had that, I’m not that type of person writer. Where I have a collaborator, a partner, where I’m sending in a quite a few pages, and or empty pages. I’m just not in my DNA. And maybe one day that’ll change? I’ve never been in a writer’s room. Hey, you know, I’ve got this good idea, I’ve got that idea. And it, you know, and so on. I’m sort of the lone, you know, lone wolf kind of guy.
Who’s you know, I like, I’ll go to a Starbucks every once in a while. But, usually 99% of the time, it’s me and my, you know, in my apartment, you know, me and my laptop, and that’s it. You know, just writing, and it’s been tough, you know, it’s been tough. But, when you get through, and you get through the script. And come around page 70-60 something? And you start seeing that finish line. It’s tough when you’re on page 15, and you’re on page 5, and page 20, and you’re like, man, I’ve got. You know, you don’t see the finish line. You just see, you know, a low page count. And it’s like, I don’t know, if it’s good? Maybe I should just delete this? But, once you start seeing that finish line. And you get to the end, and you’re polishing. That’s the most enjoyable part. Because I know I’m quoting to be sure I know it. It’s not fun to write, it’s fun to have written, or something, along those lines. But, you just keep going. It’s persistence, persistence, persist, and eventually, or hopefully. You know, that’s the scary part is, you don’t know? But, eventually if you keep doing the thing. Eventually, the thing I was talking about, the contests, in L.A. Being social-able you know, it is important too. Because, a lot of writers are introverted, and that’s tough. I mean I was lucky, I always had the acting thing to make the connections, which has helped me. But, yeah I mean, go out, go out to these meet and greets, meet producers, be in the city, and do all those things. But again, there’s no, I hate to keep saying this, but, it’s fair warning, that there’s no guarantee. I’ve seen a lot of writers, come and go. And I’ve seen a lot of writers, that have that one script, you know, that they keep trying to get made, It’s that one script. And they’ve written one or two scripts. And I would advise, not being that person. And I would advise, being that person, and actually writing that one script that you think is great. But, if it’s your first script, probably not going to be very good. Improvement comes by writing script after script, and the more you write, you know, they should be getting better. Your scripts should be best to go, right? If your scripts aren’t getting better, than maybe it’s not just, this job is not for everyone. You know, and it’s brutal, it’s brutal, and it’s painful. And there are very sharp. And writers aren’t often treated very fairly. Though, they are considered, and the executives are like, oh, we’ll just get a couple of guys. And they’ll sit in a room and they’ll write. But, also learn the business end. Learn to produce your own stuff. And these are things you can do, as writers. You know, if no one’s making your script, and you believe it, and believe in it? But, it’s not a script you can do for $20,000.00 or $30,000? And you can raise $30,000.00. It may sound like a it’s a lot of money. But, you can make a feature film, for $30,000, even less. And so, I would say, no one’s buying your, you know, $30,000 movie. Write a script, but, the thing that you can shoot in your house. That your friend has a camera. You know, but probably not your friend has a camera. Invest in a real cinematographer, a real sound guy, work it. And make that script awesome. Submit it to film festivals. Or make a short. You know, with which is another thing. But, if no one is buying your script? Make something. You know, that’s something that you can do, troll. And that’s ultimately, that can be your calling card. Whether it’s, you know, it’s harder, it’s much harder to get people to read your script. Than it is to, hey, watch my 5-minute short. Or submit these and get them into Con. And that’s how Dameous Chevel did with “Whip Lash.” You know, he made this, you know, 10 minute, I’m not sure? “Monolith” is a short film called, “Whip Lash.” And he was able to then do “Whip Lash.” And now he’s getting paid Millions and Millions of dollars to every studio in town wants him.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Sound advice. So, it sounds like “Devil’s Domain” is already been released. Maybe you can tell us, where’s it available? Is it going to hit iTunes, NetFlix, Hulu, just where is it going to hit next?
Jared: It’s on, you know, it’s on all those DOD platforms now; NetFlix, unfortunately, it did not, it was not able to get on there. I think because 13 reasons why? Was sort of a similar type of TV show. I don’t know? Who knows? But, NetFlix is. Their NetFlix is making a lot of their own kind of content. So, it’s becoming harder, and harder, to get. With that said, I’ve gotten quite a few movies on NetFlix, you just got to get another movie on NetFlix, it’s called, “Locked Up.” Which is coming out in June 20th. But, a yeah, it’s on all the DOD, you know, platforms; Amazon, iTunes, Voodoo, Rhapsody, Hulu, and just Google search, it. And you’ll be able to find it, on it’s own link.
Ashley: I just like to wrap up the interview, by asking the guest, just how people can find you, and follow you, and keep up with what you’re doing? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, anything you feel comfortable with sharing? I will grab those links and put them in the show notes. But, you can share them now so people can hear where you’re most active.
Jared: I’m most active most days on Instagram. Which I think is probably become the most self used social media platform for artists. And my Instagram name – @JaredCohn1,
the number 1, J-a-r-e-d C-o-h-n and the #1. So, I’m constantly you know, throwing pictures up and you know, screenshots, the reviews, and you can follow me there. I mean, you can find me on Facebook. But, I’m doing more these days on Instagram.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. Jared I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me. A very candid interview. Lots of great advice. A lot of other screenwriters will get a lot out of this. So, I really appreciate it.
Jared: You know, thank you so much. And hopefully, I encouraged, than I hopefully I didn’t do discouraged, I just wanted to be real, and with you. And I’m not a big shot Hollywood writer. I’m the guy in the trenches. So, you know, if I can help with anything? And I can help anyone, than that makes me feel really good.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, perfect. Well, I appreciate it. Good luck with your projects. And next time you are finished with something, let me know, and we’ll have ya back. on to talk about that.
Jared: Thank you, I really appreciate you having me here.
Ashley: Thank you talk to ya later.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things I’m doing at “Selling Your Screenplay.” To help screenwriters find producers who are looking for new material. First, I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. 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, I have well over 400 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These are producers who are hungry for material and are happy to read scripts from new writers.
So, if you want to participate in this pitch newsletter? Get your script into the hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select, that’s www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
And secondly, I have partnered with one of the premiere paid screenwriting leads services. So, I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. These, there are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently, I’ve been getting 10-12 high quality paid leads per week. These are producers or production companies, actively looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you sign-up for SYS Select, You’ll get these leads Emailed directly to you several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV, and web series pilots. So, it’s a huge a ray of different projects that these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and SYS Select members. Again, to sign-up, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
So, in the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing, Writer/Director, Sonny Diane, this is the final short film maker that I am going to be talking to. In my short film series, that I have been doing over the last few months. Sonny wrote and directed a short film called, “The Grove.” Which is available to watch for free on www.screeningnow.com. So, if you want to watch that, before next week’s interviews. I will link to that in the show notes. We talk through the entire process of how he made this short film. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Jared. A lot of great information, and a lot of great tips from Jared. I know a lot of screenwriters don’t want to direct, that’s totally fine, I get that. But, I would like to really highlight what he did and said. The first feature film he directed it wasn’t a success in and of itself. But, it gave him just a little bit of leverage to get that first directing gig on-board and under his belt. With my own feature film, “The Pinch” that I wrote, directed, and produced. It’s working in much the same way, it’s not even done yet. But, I’ve been able to inject, and interject myself as a possible director on several projects. Just because I haven’t nearly done. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, on this writing this TV Pilot I’m writing for a producer. One of the things that he promised me. Was that if he could get this TV series funded. And then obviously it would be a 10 or 12 episode run. And he would let me direct one or two episodes of that. And again, that’s in large part, based on that, having that experience, “The Pinch.” “The Pinch” obviously hasn’t been a success, it’s not even finished, yet. I also optioned a script, that maybe 6 months ago, through “Ink Tip.” And I mentioned to that producer that I might be interested in directing it. And so far, she seemed, opened to the idea. She’s actually creating a business plan, and she’s sliding mine in as a possible director on it, on the project. Again, having those credits. You don’t have to be super successful to still benefit your career, and still move ahead. And again, directing isn’t necessarily what every screenwriter wants to do, which is okay. But, I think the bigger lesson is getting out there and doing stuff. So that you have a resume of work. If you don’t want to direct? Perhaps you can put on your finance hat and produce one or two of these scripts. And then start with shorts and work your way up to features. There’s really no way of or better way of building your resume, than producing your own stuff yourself. Getting out there, you will end up, producer, you will ultimately have creative control on it. It will be your baby. It will turn out, hopefully with the way you want it to. Again, there might be some people out there. That want to direct or produce, and that could be okay too.
I’ve talked about this many times in the past, on the Podcast. There’s a lot of places online especially, www.maybe.com, is another one, Craigslist, is another one. Whether there is some people out there, producers, directors, film students, people out there looking for short scripts. And this is a great way to do again. Get it out there, meet people and get your scripts produced. These short film scripts, are easy, if you write a half way decent one, and are aggressively sending it out. You will find someone who wants to produce it, and direct it, and make it, and ultimately all that again can add to your resume. Having an actual writing resume makes you seem a lot more legitimate than just another person with a dream of making it big in Hollywood. So, when you are talking with producers about your screenplays. You’ll be able to show them some short films that are completed. This is much more impressive, than showing them another film. If you have a 3 or 5-minute short that’s something a producer can just quickly watch. And again, if it’s half way decent, they can watch it and enjoy it. Sending them a full script, if they’ve watched the short film before-hand and liked it? It makes reading that script, that much easier. These short films, they can be listed on your IMDb page. Again, most of the time a producer when he’s reading the script and will give an option of a script to a producer. He will look them up on IMDb. To see whether their resume is at? If you have a half dozen short films, with awards, on your IMDb page. That’s just going to make him feel like you’ve got something going on. Just make it feel like you’re more of a writer, you’re more legitimate than he’s other scripts and other writers, than other writers he’s reading, if you have a resume. And hopefully some of these shorts will be half-way decent. Hopefully if your are going to produce your own work or the producer you are working with. They will aggressively pursue entering them at film festivals, even small film festivals can garner awards for your film. And again, you can go from, and this is putting it in antiquated, if you go from just being a screenwriter to an award-winning screenwriter. Winning an award at even a low-level festival. That is an award, by something you can add to your resume if you add to it a quarry letter. And the biggest thing you get out of doing all these things. Whether they be low budget feature films, or low-budget short films. The biggest thing you get is the actual experience of seeing it in the pages comes to life. Seeing how the actors interpret it, seeing how the director interprets what you make. All of that stuff is just going to make you a better writer. Make you understand the process better, all of it will help you add to your writing ability. All these things, they will add up, they will set you apart from the millions of other screenwriters, who don’t have any shorts or low-budget features on their resume. And the things, there’s really no reason to not be actively out there to do these types of projects. I’d say, once or twice a month, I get an Email from someone, and it goes something like this – “I’ve just completed my screenplay, which I will believe will be a national hit. And I am very talented, creative writer. So, I know I have the talent. But, I just need someone to give me a chance.” And again, that’s sort of the type of Emails I’ve heard, just over the years, since writing “Selling Your Screenplay.” Where someone says, oh, I know I have the talent, someone just needs to give me a chance. And you know, I just feel like, gee, if you really have the talent, go out and prove it. Go out and make it something that’s great, Hollywood will find you. You don’t need anybody to give you a chance in this day and age. You can literally shoot something on your cell phone. If you have the where-with-all to be listening to this Podcast. You probably have the where-with-all to go and actually do something. Do it, a short film. And I talk about this in again, I mention this many, many, many, times on the Podcast. Make a low-budget short film, make a low-budget feature film. All this stuff where, all this stuff I am talking about? These guys, I’m talking to Sonny, next week, he did it, a short film. But, a whole short films shows. It’s all sort of an effort, to demystify the process of making short film.
And again, you don’t necessarily directed, maybe you’re going to produce it. But, all these little things, hopefully will start to show you that these things are not that difficult. And again, the only reason, if you haven’t done this, is you don’t have to wait for permission, you don’t have to wait for producers to say, yes, I love your stuff. You don’t have to wait for production companies to say, yes, I’m going to give you funding. You can go out and do this stuff. I want to mention one separate higher end of this whole equation. If you go and search out Christopher Knolin Fowling. That was his super-low-budget film. And it’s a really, really, good film. I saw on NetFlix a couple of years ago. But, you can probably find it on Amazon, once again, it’s Christopher Knolin’s, and that’s a great example, and he just went out there, and made, a short film. It stood out because it was so good. And it got him and got his career moving along. Obviously, that’s an extreme case. It’s an incredibly talented film maker. It’s probably not that fast. But again, going back to Jerad’s story. Jerad’s first film, it wasn’t
Christopher Knolin Fowling. But, it wasn’t a huge success or financial success. But, it gave him just a little bit, just a subtle, little edge over other people that are coming into that office. And it gave him just enough to get him that first job as a writer/director. And that is really what this is all about. At least movies don’t have to be terrific. They don’t have to be to go viral, the short story, to go viral for them to be a lot of help in your career. And to help you stand. You don’t necessarily have to be disappointed if you do a short film, and it doesn’t get 10 Million views on YouTube. That really not what it’s all about. It’s about making something good so that when someone does see it, they appreciate it. And they understand that you are a film maker, a quality film maker, quality writer. And that as I say, can be the difference, between you and the millions of others, of people that are trying to do this.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening