Reckless Creatives Podcast co-hosts Sadie Dean and Jeanne Veillette Bowerman chat with Spike Scarberry about what it takes to succeed in screenwriting. Spike is a veteran of the Hollywood development landscape, having worked for an agency, a prod company, and a TV network.
A super-sized episode full of everything from "do I have to move to L.A. to be a successful writer?" to the question everyone has—"how much champagne can I fit in this mimosa?"
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We need a little slate to like, slap us in or just to slap us. Just like a hand that comes in. Yeah, hand that just comes in slaps inside the head. That'd be awesome. Stop, stop take to get again. This is Jeannie flat powermeter Pipeline Artists. And this is Sadie Dean from skirt magazine. And we are doing our next second episode of reckless creatives podcast, following up our first episode, which was all about failure, and well received. I don't think it failed. Well, I don't think so either. I think it's getting a lot of love on social media. Everyone that I've shared it with. You really liked it. Um, I've sent it to my mom, but I haven't heard back so I know better than to send it to my mother. She would cuz she just loved anything I did. Like she would just be like, Oh, it's great. It's great. It's great. Because she's a mom. But she's a great mom. She's 89 we'll have to have like a mom conversation one day cuz you know, these people who birthed the reckless creatives deserve a little kudos? For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because there are a lot of jerk parents out there who wouldn't let people be reckless? Yeah. So I hear you've got some quotes for us today. Satan, Dean. I do. Yeah, we actually have a really cool podcast. Today we're interviewing spikes Carberry. He seems like he's like the jack of all trades, of screenwriting and TV writing. So I'm really excited to pick his brain about everything that I don't know, which is a lot. The first step to being reckless is admitting you don't know anything. I know nothing about that. Um, so I have a few quotes here from both Larry David and Fran Lebowitz. And we're gonna play a little game with you, Jeannie. Oh, God, edit. But first, because our topic today is about success. And whatever that may look like to any of you. The first one I found was from one of my favorite writers who is Mark Twain. And his quote is, to succeed in life, you need two things, ignorance and confidence. Yeah. I mean, I think I lean towards ignorance. But that's my you know, and that's an interesting question, because I interviewed James Kicklighter the other day, who is a documentary and filmmaker also does narrative film, but he did this, it'll be on pipeliners, who did this really cool movie called The sound of identity and about a trans opera singer, performing Don Giovanni, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, what I talked to him about his younger self and advice, he would have given his younger self and all that. And he said something really cool like that, you, you think when you start that, I'm just have to make this short film or make this feature film or do this, and then I'll have opened the doors to Hollywood, I would have climbed that mountain. And then he goes, and then you do that, and you get up at the top of the mountain, and you realize there is nothing but a whole bunch of more mountains in front of you. You know, that they're just like, it's, it's this wide expanse of things you need to conquer or try. And he was saying that for him, he took on this specific roles director and editor of the stock, because it made him really nervous and made them uncomfortable. And then so then he knew I have to do this. And so when it comes to that ignorance aspect of it, I do think that sometimes when you tap, like, if you knew everything you know about how whatever, whatever art it is you're pursuing, whether it's music, or writing, or filmmaking, or acting or whatever. Like if, after you've been in the game for a few years, if you had known all of that, when you first started, would you have done it? And maybe not yet. I feel like though, as as a creative, especially with writing and music, I'm I'm constantly learning new things, new tricks, or new, just things about how I can play or convey something as an artist. And that's always really exciting, because there is still a lot that I don't know, I'm in both worlds. So yeah, totally. And I mean, I've always maintained to takes about, like eight years to really know how to write. I mean, I'd love to ask Mike that too, because he's got some great advice. He has a really great column upon Pipeline Artists sight and I don't have favorite children. But I really love reading his stuff. It's sort of like the same kind of stance I took in doing balls of steel like that. I just wanted to tell people what they needed to hear, not necessarily what they wanted to hear, knowing that they wouldn't really be happy sometimes hearing the things I had to say, but they were honest, at least from my experience. Everybody has totally different experiences. So like, I like that raw, honest thing. Yeah, sure. Yeah. It's really good. It's, it's stuff that we need to hear. And it's reassuring to, especially when you just have no confidence in yourself on certain days, or hours or minutes of the week. Yeah. Often, I'm sure yeah. Alright, so I have three more quotes for you. And they're either from Larry David, or Fran Lebowitz. Are you ready, Jeannie? I think so. I think I've watched enough Curb Your Enthusiasm. But I'm not sure I could tell. I'm gonna get him all wrong. The first one is, you're only as good as your last haircut. I think that's Larry. Now. No, Fran? Wrong. Yeah. Okay. Okay. So I'm putting one in the wrong column. Next. You know, I was not told there was going to be a test. And I think next time I'm going to have to test you on something. I think it's fair with all the homework you give on the first podcast. You gave a lot of former homework. Oh, to everybody. Did I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Get back on their behalf. Yeah. That's not a bad idea. I did it though. Oh, I have my angry Charlie box with the Yeah, it's in the other room. Oh, cool. I hope that people did it, too. I'm sure they did. Everyone should listen to Jeannie. Here's the second one. Success didn't spoil me. I'm all I've always been insufferable. Okay, well, that has to be Larry. Now. Are you giving me a friend? See, now I know. See, here's the thing. So now I know that the third one has to be Larry. And this is pretty good, actually. Okay. Which and I was very surprised when I saw this one. I was like, that doesn't sound like Larry David. So I'm purposely picked one that was going to be hard wanting me to fail. I believed in Yeah, I always believed. Alright, give it to me. So this one's really good. Okay. When you're not concerned with succeeding, you can work with complete freedom. See, I would have thought that was Fran. I wouldn't believe it's from either of them. It's so yeah, it was very optimistic. Yeah, it was. So I'm excited to see what spike thinks about success and failure, because we're gonna ask them. Great. Yeah. Here we go. Well, I was I was getting something very important for this podcast. And it's a gigantic Mimosa that I just made myself. That is very nice. I was getting something very important for this podcast. And yeah, Kayla. I knew there was a reason we got along. And Oh, there you go. That's wild turkey. Honey whiskey hit that wild turkey going on? No. And by the way, we have nothing planned. Usually a good recipe for success there. Yeah, we were all about failure. You've already made a mistake. I'm so glad I feel like I'm set up for such success here. Since you guys are all about failure. I trust you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's your first mistake. I'm just the guests here. So there's nothing Exactly. There's no pressure on you at all. if this fails, it's all on us. There you go. So we're here with spike, scar, Berry, and spike, there's probably I know, you've got these really great articles up on Pipeline Artists because I read them. And somebody does. What I'm actually the first person to read them unless you give them to your girlfriend or whatever. Why don't you tell for those people who aren't reading your articles yet? Those five people? Um, why don't you just give us a little, you know, idea of where your background is and where your perspective is going to be coming from in this conversation and why I got invited to be on a podcast is this your first podcast is actually my second podcast only because when I was in LA, I had two friends who tried to break into the podcasting world and they did like a joke podcast, and I was a guest for that. But there was like, no topic. So there was like nothing to wear. Like it was like, Oh, this guy is talking about something that he's actually qualified to speak about, like a random guy who joined their podcast, and I think we ended up talking about like male genitals for most of the time, as men are Want to do? That's generally how just like guys get together, we just start talking about those things. But yeah, is that podcast like documented somewhere like an archive somewhere? We'll have to like dig it up and link to it. And I really hope not, because I want to get it taken down. Because I really, I don't remember what I said, as you know, Genie, gn, excuse me, I Oh, god, no Genie, excuse me, I gotta write the first day you did the first time. But as you as you know, I am wanting to just say whatever is on my mind, which gets me in trouble all the time. So I I really don't remember what I said during that podcast. And I'm just kind of hoping that it doesn't exist anywhere. Because it could be really bad for me. I don't know. Well, why don't you take another sip of that Mimosa? I see, I see where this is going. Exactly. Just gonna loosen you up that you say anything you want to say like, Don't hold back. And meanwhile, we haven't even found out anything about you yet. Other than I have no filter, which I'm sure will become readily apparent as this goes on. But to answer your question, my name is spike. I like long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners and dynamic storytelling and all forms. I was the kid who at six years old was sitting about two inches away from the television watching Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. And I was like, yep, that's what I want to do. I want to make movies for the rest of my life. I want to give little boys and little girls and little every gender identity in between kids out there, the same feeling of that I could just fly that that I got from watching that movie. And I was hooked. I knew that that was my that was my my destination. That was where I was going to go in life. I had this like roaring fire in the pit of my stomach that I had to make it out to Los Angeles. And I had to be part of the business. So I graduated film school in three years a year early because I did Summer Sessions because I wanted to get out there as fast as possible. drove across the country didn't know anybody. And it's funny. On my drive to LA I think somewhere around Iowa or something. I said to myself, you know, spike, if you end up in television, you're a complete failure. You should just like go home, back to the east coast and just like live the rest of your life as a barista at Starbucks or something. If you end up in television, why did you think television was a failure? Because at that point, premium TV had not become a thing. I was so obsessed with movies. Trust me, this will come back at some point. I will Yeah, my words Trust me. Because I spent the majority of my career in television actually after the peak TV movement, and all of that happened. But essentially, I got to LA as a bright eyed 21 year old kid stayed with cousins on their couch while I interned at a bunch of places ended up getting a job at a financier, learned how little movies get get money and how they get made and sold overseas and how much money you can make selling those like crappy little Wesley Snipes action movies to like Uganda, like people make bank doing that. It's surprising just how that business runs. But from there, I went to an agency went to a production company that did a superhero franchise went then once I realized that the movie industry was not quite what I thought it was went to a television network for like four and a half years. Which is where I got the the most of my experiences the you know, the TV landscape kind of boomed and became just as good if not a better place for premium content than then the movie screen was. And so after about nine years of that, and we can get into all the whys, and how's this thing happen? I just kind of I burned out on the business, I saw what the beast was. And I knew that there was nothing that I could do to change it. And I knew that while Yes, there was a pathway for me to like, work for 2025 years and like climb to the top of the mountain and then finally have that decision making power that I was so hungry for. At that time, I realized that my fire had just gone out, I just I didn't, I did not want to continue doing that anymore. I was living such a miserable existence toiling away in the machine that is Tinseltown. That I just could not to see myself continuing with it any longer. Eventually, the company that I was working for got acquired by a larger company. And whenever that happens, there's always layoffs and the company knew that I was unhappy. So I think that they made the easy cut where they were like, we're just gonna lay this guy off, we're gonna give him a very nice severance package, we're going to let him go his own way. And I had a decision to make was I going to jump back into the field and try it, try it again in a different company knowing more than likely how I was going to feel because that was a pretty clear cycle for me at least. So I decided that I knew how this business made me feel. I wanted to see if a different industry made me feel otherwise. So I've moved back to the east coast during the pandemic where I started a coaching business where I now work with amateur writers who want to get into how You would want to get coached by somebody who's been on the development side, worked at the network's worked at the studios has passed on their scripts more than likely. And I teach them, Hey, this is how you actually impress the people who are behind that desk. This is how you actually get their attention from the mind of somebody who's done that. And so that's basically what brings me here today. And then at some point, I found Matt, who introduced me to you, and now I write articles with no filter for Pipeline Artists, that that's how we got connected, Jean. Yes. And I love that. Now you were in the business side for so long. And one of the things that satine I talk about a lot, not necessarily on the podcast, because we just started this but in life, that, you know, the the writers not understanding anything about the business. Do you also write like, I want to ask that question. I was asked the same question do you write? It's something that the short answer is yes, but it's much more of a hobby at this point, because like when I was transitioning from West Coast to East Coast, I stayed with basically, here's a funny story. So when I got laid off, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And I had no idea. And so I'm thinking, do I get another industry job? Do I get a job someplace else? If that? If so, where is it? Like the world is my oyster, I could go anywhere, like I don't even know where to begin looking. And so one night as I was having this existential dilemma, I was on Facebook and I saw an ad. Have I told you the story, Genie Oh, okay. And the ad said, relax, eat well, advanced science. And I think to myself, well, this has to be bullshit. It has to be fake. So I click on it, because what else are you going to do? Yeah, it was not fake. It was an actual ad for a medical study sponsored by Harvard, Boston Children's Hospital and a bunch of other universities that essentially was paying people money, actual money to live in Boston, while medical researchers studied your body while you ate their food, lost weight. And then they did like medical tests on you. Oh, my God, can I do this study, they were paying $10,000.40 pounds. So I was like, Well, that sounds fun and interesting. And I never would have thought I would have done that. So I applied I got in. And that's the story of how I drove to Boston to live in a hospital slash hotel for six months, while researchers studied my body fed me food and like, I had to lose weight for them. You know, I'm basically staying in a hotel with a bunch of dudes and we have nothing to talk about, but our life experience and so the fact that I had come from Hollywood came up there were more than one screenwriter in this group. Two people trying to write a smoke three people trying to write a screenplay. And so me I know it's completely shocking but I told them about what I did my side business and working with writers and doing contest judging and things like that. And they kept telling me is like, Man, you know, so much about story you should write you should write you should write something. And I I hesitated with that for a very, very long time. And it's because I know intimately Well, the plight of the professional writer like I know, yes, you can talk about like, they're the Aaron Sorkin's of the world. And they're, you know, all of these a level writers who make millions of dollars to write a screenplay or, or to write novels or things like that. They're the minority, like the the the math, the majority of Hollywood people are just are just people. They're just working Joes who are trying to get a paycheck. And I've seen too much of them struggle. And so like, when people were like, you should write something you like, you know, this, like you can break in, I was just like, but do I want to? Because one of the things that pushed me out of Hollywood is I looked around me, and I was like, nobody's happy, like everyone's miserable doing this, like, why am I continuing to, to kill myself over a dream I had when I was six years old. Just because I want to follow my childhood dream, even though it doesn't make sense when I'm 26 or 30, or whatever age I was at the time. So I didn't really want to push for the idea of being a professional writer, even though I think that I have knowledge that could benefit me in that right. Only because I felt like, what's the point like, I know, professional writers struggle. And then just to see, you know, people like all of the trials and tribulations of the business, being intimately aware of how the business works and how much luck goes into, you know, a professional writing career. Not to say that there is no skill involved. But to say that luck is not a vital aspect of what we do would be naive. So that's why I didn't want to like commit to being a writer professionally, because I was like, I just I don't see myself being happy in that way. That being said, I have it In my head, one of the things that I learned, one of the many things that I learned upon leaving Los Angeles was that I didn't love movies, necessarily what I loved was storytelling. I love the feeling when a story grabs you and transports you to another world and just makes you completely forget about your own and you lose time in it. That's the best one for me. Yeah. So I definitely enjoy, you know, being a narrator. And I have ideas of my own that I would love to get out on paper, because quite frankly, they've been bugging me for years. But I'm not going to hinge my financial success on it. I just I can't I can't. I'm too analytical to just take the full on dive and completely be creative. But I do dabble in in some in some forms of storytelling. We'll see if anything ever happens with it. But but that's sweet. And I very long answer to your question. No. And I've had the pleasure have a sneak peek at some spikes graphic novel. Um, he's got a you have a really great writing voice, like really great. And I, I, I think the world would be entertained by the stories that you have to tell, just to kind of back up for a second. Like you had this dream, the 66 year old kid as his dream. I mean, you've now come gone to the east coast. So left Hollywood, do you in fitting with our theme of our first episode? And we're also talking a little bit about success today, like what that means to you? Like, do you? Like how would you define failure and success? Oh, wow, what a question. Um, dad. Okay, you can have another sip of your Mimosa. I just, I think the question that I'm still figuring out how to answer for myself, because, like I told you, for the longest time, my success was entirely driven by career accomplishment. Like one of the issues that I learned about myself, one of the things that I'm trying to fix now is, when I was in LA, I didn't think of myself as spike scarb. Every human being, I thought of myself as spike scar, Berry, film producer. And when the Film Producing aspect of my life wasn't going well, aka, most of the time. I wasn't feeling good about me. And so that was not a healthy way to look at success. But in terms of figuring out what success is now, I mean, I the only thing I can think of is just to give the stereotypical answer, just be happy. And I definitely think I'm more I'm definitely more successful today than I was two years ago. Do I think I'm perfectly successful yet? No. But I'm getting there, I'm, I'm building a better life for myself day by day, brick by brick, trying to trying to get to the place I want to go, working out this answer in my head. Now that comes down to freedom. Like knowing when I was in LA, there were so many things I couldn't do. Like I was surrounded by this awesome city, we had all these things going on, there was always a pop up bar or a show at the Pantages or, or, you know, a cool event at the beach, they would have the Cirque du Soleil coming in, they have things came to Los Angeles, I could rarely afford to do them. Like I rarely had the money, because I was paying ridiculous amounts in rent gas was over $4, a sandwich was 12 bucks, not including the drink or the chips or whatever else you wanted to get. I could rarely afford to actually go to the pop up bar, without in the back of my head being like, you shouldn't be spending this money. So I didn't because again, I'm too analytical to just say, EFF it, you know, YOLO as some of my friends do. So, for me, what I want in my future is I want a future where I'm free to do anything that I choose, go wherever I want to go. And one of the reasons reasons I left LA is I could more easily achieve that freedom, not in the third most expensive city in America. Yeah, I could achieve that much more easily in a city that doesn't have a high cost of living. So yeah, I can't afford to live here. It's It's insane. It's insane. Yeah, I mean, I've kind of did the same thing as you spike where I remember I moved to Silver Lake of all places, because it was the hip place to be. And I found a great spot that was like right around the corner from my favorite bar. And then I moved there. And I never once visited that bar and actually have a meeting with Matt next week. And it's basically a coffee shop that was across the street from my house. And I was like, I remember walking by there, but I could never afford to go in I couldn't really afford to go to 711 because it was too expensive. I think that's really cool that you were able to pivot in Hollywood from a different perspective, from your perspective after being in the trenches for so long and give writers and creatives That perspective of like, this is really what happens. Brace yourself. It's not all glitz and glamour, but you got to put in the work and just be ready for whatever is gonna happen because it, whatever is gonna happen, and it's either gonna be really great or it's gonna be terrible. But I think you can learn from those things and hopefully not be so miserable from the outcome. I gotta say, when I go into LA, I can set up myself with meetings, people know, I don't live there. So it's almost like, oh, gene is gonna be in town this week, I need to make sure I have time to meet her. So like, I ended up some of my friends who've been in LA for 10 years, say to me, you know, more people here than I do, because because like when you're there, you don't always do the stuff that they say. You can serendipitously run into people or whatever. Like, I don't want to make the trip across country until everything's opened up again. Because it defeats the purpose. Like if I'm going to go all the way out there, I want to see as many people as I can see, and one of the things I would always do is if like I met, I meet a bunch of people and on social media, so if I knew a casting director, and I knew an actor, and I knew producer and I knew an indie filmmaker, and I knew whatever I would, I would kind of try to figure out who should meet each other. And I would say, okay, on x night, I'm going to be in Studio City, let's all meet at this bar this time. And then they would come together, they'd see me, but they would see each other and meet each other. And then they'd have warm and fuzzy feelings about me because they met somebody who could help them in some way. And also, I was mostly an assistant coming up toward the end, I was basically, I don't want to say I was a development executive with out the title, but I was doing all the things that development executives do just without the title. For me, I don't I like there's not much other than just like the knowing somebody at that company that I can provide them just being a general contact for you. They might be like, Oh, well, this is somebody with credits, I could bring that to my boss, and I could look good. Or she might have a spec sometime that gets really hot, but I know her and then she'll slip it to me first. So there's like, this is another issue in the Hollywood system is that everyone's out for themselves, which again, is like life. But I always tell people that Hollywood is like real life, but like amped up to 11 because everything is just more intense out there. And so everyone is looking out for themselves. And so everyone's looking out for that thing that can help them the most. And then when you leave, and you can't help them anymore, your contact list like drops to basically not when you realize because you know it when you're there. But when you realize that the only reason people were talking to you is so that they could have had a contact at Warner Brothers like you were their contact at Warner Brothers. And now that you're not at Warner Brothers, they need to find a new one of you. They weren't trying to actually be friends with you. They're being friends with the position that you held. Yeah, that's a little depressing. Yeah. And something that Sadie said that I'm trying to remember now cuz I wanted to go back to it. Talking about living in LA not being able to go anywhere. Crap, I forgot what it was all I remember in a second but you made a really good point about something Stadion. I wonder, was it the not going to the bar, the coffee shop that was right across the street? Or Yeah, there's something about that, but I think it was around that, but I forgot exactly what it was. We have a commercial that comes on every time. It's a reminder to take your vitamins for optimal brain power. Because I do that a lot. Like I know what I'm supposed to say. I'll be like, okay, we need like that. What does that mean? commercial? Like, you know, whatever that thing is to come on to rely on me, and then you'll, it'll come back to you for sure. Just to not completely deter people who do still to do this for a living, like from moving to LA or all of that kind of stuff. Like what advice would you give the person who is like, you know, what, that may have been your experience spike, but, you know, maybe I've got a trust fund, or maybe I've got big savings, or maybe I've got whatever, I'm going to move. But So how should those people best take advantage of that decision? Oh, this actually you reminded me the thing that said he said that. Cuz you were you were talking about, about how you're you living in Los Angeles, and like, you can't afford to live there. And the entire idea being that if you don't go You'll never know. Like my breakup with la was painful, it hurt. I'm not going to tell you that it wasn't like I had to go through a grieving process of my old dream. And I went through that and I came out cleaning the other side. But I don't regret doing it. Because I know that if I didn't do it, if I just went into another industry straight out of college, and I was now 30 year old guy. I'd still be thinking about Hollywood. And having done it now. I know that it's not the thing for me. What advice do I give to people who still want to go out there and do it? I think what I just said, like you like, I can tell you what it's like, until I'm blue in the face, you're not gonna believe it until you go through it yourself because you haven't experienced the thing that I've experienced. Now, there's a lot of common denominators in people who work in the business, who all kind of say most of the exact same stuff. But the human brain isn't really wired to hear other people's pain and then believe it there. It's wired to say, Oh, this is happening to me now, I need to avoid this. So I don't think even if I told them, all the stuff that I'm saying about my horrible experience with it, that it would register. So you should still do it. Just know. The advice I would really give is just know that it's not everything. Because one of the big, big issues with Los Angeles in the film industry in general is that there's a it's never directly stated. But there's a feeling and like a subtext to the whole industry of superiority of like, oh, we're the tastemakers, we work in Hollywood, everyone thinks to what we do is so cool. And if you can't make it, well, that just means you couldn't cut it. That's not the case. Sometimes the industry is isn't for you. It's not for every personality type. I could still be out there. Like I knew enough people. I've had enough career experience where I'm sure that if I wanted to get that next job, I could have done it. I just I made the choice to value myself and my mental health more than that. There's not there's nothing wrong was saying I want to do something else. It's a big country. It's a big world, like Hollywood is its own little Hogwarts. things that matter in Hollywood, oftentimes don't matter to the rest of the world. And don't don't get seduced into thinking that they do. I have a question for you spike. With with the state of the world. I mean, now it's kind of getting healthy again. But do you see a trend that writers or filmmakers are spreading out outside of LA and still able to work in the industry at the same capacity as they were before? In order to keep the business running? I'm sure people had to do pitches over zoom. I'm sure they had to do general meetings or resume, I feel like if anything, my guess would be that it probably normalized it. And I don't think as a writer, you have to live in LA. Because like Gina, you talked about that idea of like, you could just randomly run into somebody at a coffee shop or at the Century City Mall. That like never happened to me, right. And obviously, like I said, I was poor, didn't go out a lot. I'm an introvert, not a natural networker. Like, it seems that you are. But I don't think that that happens as often as people say that it does. I feel like if if Hollywood wants you, it's gonna be because of your material. The connections are definitely an important part. Don't say that. Don't Don't let me tell you that they're not. But if you write a great script, you've written a great script doesn't matter if you lived in LA or Alaska. Like I think that you'll be able to, to make something of yourself. So I would hope that the answer to your question say to you is yes, but I don't know. 100%. Yeah. And like the other thing people always talk about a lot of writers and you've discussed this in one of your articles, one of your first ones, about people stealing their ideas. Like, like, there's a lengthy article that you can go read on Pipeline Artists about that. That's by grow, but it's that fire. Yeah, like, maybe just give a little, a little quick synopsis of why. That is not something people should freak out about quick synopsis. It doesn't happen. Yeah. Long synopsis. As I said in the article, has it happened before? Of course it has. Of course it has, but the the times where it does get such outsized levels of attention that it totally, like over blows the entire problem. The issue is that studios, and I'm going to basically repeat my article, studios don't pay for ideas. Like if I'm a studio head and Genie, you have an idea for a movie about a squirrel, and the squirrels hoarding nuts for the winter, and then all of a sudden, a farmer chops his tree down for firewood, and his nuts are gone, he has found a way to survive. If you were like, hey, I've got this idea for you. I'd go cool. You're gonna write it? And if the answer is yes, I might pay for it. But I'm not paying for your idea. I'm paying I'm pre paying for your script. Hollywood pays for well executed ideas. Like you bring me an idea which then I have to go find a writer to execute it well means nothing to me. I like it. So it's it's a bunch of time that I have to waste trying to find somebody who's available who can do this type of movie. It's a bunch of money I have to waste trying to see if this this idea even comes out well. It's just not something that really happens. And if you're worried about being at a coffee shop and another writer, hearing your idea, and going in and stealing it again, there's there's counterpoints to that, because it takes like, three to six months to, to write something. And so if you've got the script ready, and they're still writing it and your scripts good, I mean, you will need to have the connections, but you have the advantage there in terms of getting it sold. And even then, let's just say that the writer goes out and they write an idea, or they write a script off the premise of your idea, the execution is going to be entirely different. They're going to have different characters, they're going to have different subplots. There are like, a base idea, being the same as something else does not mean like that someone stole it. If you want to look at the Kung Fu Panda situation where you can trace back to the father being a goose, and the trainer being that little lemur monkey, and the the the ultimate wise one being a turtle, then Okay, maybe you have a, you have an example of someone really stealing every little aspect of your idea. But unless someone's going through and taking lines of dialogue, or specific characters, and specific storylines, and emotional plot points, if someone just takes the premise, and then does an entirely different take on it, then sorry to tell you, that's not stealing your idea. All that is, is saying, I'm taking this premise, and I'm doing my version of it. And there's nothing wrong with that. So it's not something that really happens enough that people need to worry about at that level, but at the level of people who worry about it, way more than they should. It's like ideas aren't copyrightable, either. So I'm curious about your clients that you work with? Are they all screenwriters or just some of them write novels or graphic novels? Or are they mostly all screenwriters? Most of them are screenwriters, I have one novelist client, who I'm working with that one takes much more time because novels are much wordier. But the general idea is still the same. The narrative formula that most young writers who are emerging need to know is going to remain consistent throughout the entire process. Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, I'm a big fan of people crossing over and trying different things. Because, like you said, like screenwriting is, I mean, it's almost like the industry is set up to say no, and, yeah, and so. But you've got this story, the spec script on your hard drive, why not adapted into a novel? And even sell publish it if you can't traditionally publish? I mean, there's, there's, you know, it's all whatever you feel like doing now? I mean, I feel like now of all times, every option is available to explore. Well, I would also say to it's not even that, yes, you're right, all options are available, but you got to think about what Hollywood values, hollywood values, guaranteed return on their investment, because the the price of production in the last 10 years, basically, since I've been in Hollywood, has just astronomically blown through the roof. The roof isn't even a good enough analogy. It's blown through the stratosphere, it takes so much money, so much content being made now that the rentals have gone up, the price of that has gone way up, the cost of a good crew has gone way, way up the cost of building materials because of the pandemic has gone way, way up. Like it costs real money. Like obviously, like when people start saying, Oh, you know, the difference between an episode that costs $3 million, and one that cost $8 million? I mean, it's just millions of dollars, who cares. But when you start timing, timing that times 12 times 24 times 36 mean those numbers add up. So Hollywood needs guaranteed return on the millions of dollars that they're spending. That's why they care about China so much because they can look at China and say, all right, we can know pretty clearly how much money we're going to make from there with this type of movie. So if you're coming like again, if you Jeannie have a spec script, and you're coming to me, and you're like, hey, I've got this really great story, people are gonna love it. Am I gonna buy that? Or am I gonna turn around to the book franchise that has 25 million young adults who love it, and who Oh, by the way, it's got fans. In the acting community, I already know that there are like five actors with name value, who liked this book series would probably want to be in the adaptation for it. Oh, and this a director brought it to me and he's pretty talented. So which 1am I going to go to one of the issues I always found very frustrating is the people who are knocking on the front door a there's a lot of them and be the front door isn't what matters. Hollywood is looking now for things that have fan bases that they can go and adapt things to, because they can then turn that into guaranteed return on their investment. So if you want a better chance of getting your story sold to Hollywood specifically might want to make it a book, you might want to see if you can get an audience in a way that is cheap, where the publisher only has to print hard copies, rather than spend 50 million plus dollars turning into a movie. What kind of advice would you give a writer who is interested in IP like a video game or Maybe an underground comic book that that has an underground following if they wanted to acquire those rights to then shopped around into adapting it, what is what is the maybe right way or wrong way to not go about it or go about it, the wrong way to go about is 100%. Just doing it. Like there are lots of instances where we're like, you could be the army and just do it and be fine. But that's that's the wrong way to go about it. Because I can't tell you the number of instances having worked at a buyer where we we bought something believing that the controlling party had the rights and they didn't. And then we had to save egg on our face and go ahead and get the rights. Because we already announced that we had bought this thing and then realized, Oh, wait, this person didn't have the rights to that thing. So definitely don't do that. If you if you're looking at like underground property. I mean, the best way is just to reach out to the to the creators and say, Hey, I'm a big fan of this. I'm an I'm a screenwriter, I really want to get my take a shot at this, can we do like a six month option agreement just so I can hammer out a script and and see how it goes. And you also, if you if you're that big of a fan of it and you want to write the script first, you can and then just know that you can't do anything with it until you get that permission. But then if the author says yeah, sure, you can, you can have it for six months, go ahead, then at least you can wait a month and pretend like you wrote it in a month, and then send them the finished copy that you worked on for six months. That being said, I do think that the chances of that succeeding is going to be pretty slim nowadays, just because everyone knows that IP is the name of the game. And so giving up control of a property like that, it's going to be a pretty big thing. So again, if it's underground and super small, and the writer doesn't know any better, they might do it. But if the writer has any any brains about them, I don't think that they would take that that option. So like what's the biggest mistake you see people doing or? And what's like the thing about the industry that surprised you the most biggest mistake in people's screenplays like in their actual writing? Sure, let's talk about Kraft for a second. Because we've been talking so much about the business. In my experience, most writers are doing the same six things wrong. And if you're asking for the biggest mistake they make, I'm going to give you two that are tied the top number one is they don't focus enough on leading with emotion, they lead with plot, they lead with what the character does. And that's a big mistake. Because if I'm reading a script, you have to remember, I'm opening it up for the first time fresh every page, like if if a page is a minute, which is the approximate time that it should take or at least take to film. If I'm on page 20. I've been with your story for 20 minutes. You the writer, on the other hand, have been in that story for weeks, months, years, you've been thinking about how every character feels and the emotional plot points that they have. And the traumatic childhood that made them who they are, you care about that person. And that's why you love the story so much. You've got to make me care as much as you do as fast as possible. Because me just saying, Okay, this character is now walking their dog. And this character is now doing a thing. And that thing makes them do another thing. And that thing makes them do another thing. I don't I don't care about that. But if you can say, Oh man, this character is super sad because their their mother died. And you can make me the reader feel sad to that the mother died, then I'm like, Oh, I feel something. I wonder how this is going to turn out. I'm invested now in this character sadness, I don't want them to be sad, I wouldn't be happy, I'm going to keep turning the page to see if they become happy. I'm generally not going to keep turning the page to see if a character diffuses a bomb. Because again, if a whole bunch of people that I don't care about are going to are might die because of this bomb might go off. But I don't care about them. Why would I read about them, you have to make the reader care. Because that's number one. And the other number two is simply basic structure, like knowing how to structure a story, knowing how to bring in conflict, knowing how to have a have conflict, because so many writers, one of the common mistakes I see is that young writers care, love their characters so much. They're like, I don't want anything bad to happen to them. And so they'll they'll inject conflict, and then three pages later the conflict is solved. And then there's no plot engine for the rest of the movie. And so I'm like, Okay, cool. Why did you solve this so fast, like this was your film, and you solve it in a theme. You need to draw that out, you need to make sure that there is something going on. And the second act is about them solving that thing. It's not something that just happens like in the blink of an eye. So what I try to do with my business is I try to break down actual films. I try to sit through an entire film with my client and say, Alright, this is the inciting incident. This is the problem. Look at the emotional anchor point here. Now let's look at how the second act of this film is all About this character prop this this character having a problem that they're trying to solve. And then the third act is do they solve the problem or not? And I think that when you can actually watch a successful movie, it might seem obvious, but it's obvious because it's, it's well done. Like, that's why the movie got made is because they hit on all of the very obvious markers. And then when you start comparing it to their material, that's when they go, Oh, I see what I'm not doing here. Yeah, some writers get mad at me because they go well, you're just being very formulaic. Like you're you're wanting to be like every other writer. And I say, Well, hey, is that a problem? Like, if you get a job as a formulaic writer, who continues to churn out, you know, specs that are that are all the same vein, are you gonna be mad at me? Because you're gonna be making hundreds of 1000s of dollars every time that you write one of these? So is that a an issue? And then B, I don't think it's formulaic. I think you're using the same stuff that Homer used around the campfire, when he talked about the Odyssey, you know, like there are, there are fundamental building blocks of storytelling that have existed since the beginning of time since the beginning of three act structure. And I think that there are lots of people out there who just need to learn those fundamental building blocks. Okay, so I can just chuck this entire thing. Chug, chug, chug, chug. I can't actually do that. No, no, I don't think you could do that. I like that you, you lead off with the emotional part of it. Because I think people are definitely afraid of that. putting themselves like that on the page. They'd rather like. They think the movies robot, the big explosions, or whatever it is, right. But yeah, you gotta care. Cuz I know. I've read hundreds and hundreds of screenplays. And you're just like, yeah, 20 pages in? Why do I care about our main character, if you don't care as the writer to put in that time? Correct? Yeah, the things that I say all the time to my clients is, it's not on me, as the reader to find a reason to give a shit about your story. It's on you, as the writer to give me a reason to give a shit about what's happening to your characters. If you can't do that, then there's no if JK Rowling couldn't make people care about Harry Potter being with his demented step, uncle or aunt or uncle or aunt, or whatever it was, and make them say, Man, I really want Harry to get out of this house, and then he gets the chance to go and join this magical world of wizarding, no one would have read that book, it would not have become what it was. So you have to, you have to connect with the audience. And you have to give them a reason to care about what your character is going through. You have to if you don't do it, no one, like people might read your stuff, but they're not going to enjoy it. You know, there's a piece of advice that everybody gets, like, write what you know, you know, well, sometimes what you know, is really boring. And if you haven't lived, like a really interesting life for, you know, just you just sitting around doing nothing, and what you know, was that much and so like the right what, you know, thing really drives me crazy, because you can research anything, you can you can go experience, stuff, travel, whatever. But even if you can't do that, I mean, we have this beautiful thing called the internet. You know, the Library of Congress, like Google, I've never heard of this. What is this thing? What is this thing? And there's so many ways, like so it, it makes me crazy when people get so hung up on that. The other thing that makes me crazy, is when people say, if you write a great script, the cream will rise to the top as if it's going to magically get discovered, without you putting it out there somewhere. Or, you know, it's like, you're you can't just write this amazing screenplay. I mean, you can, that will be lovely. But no one will find it unless you put it out there. Correct. Because I agree with that second point, the cream will rise to the top. But that assumes that you put it out into the ether and into writing contests and into into people's hands where they can say, Oh, this is the cream that has risen to the top because I like it so much. So I agree. Yes, that's true. But also, it's true that you need to do something with it. I will also say in terms of the right way, you know, aspect, I'm going to say I agree with you, but only to an extent because you're right, you can research how spies do things until you're blue in the face. And you can know alright, I feel like I can write realistic spy movie. But, again, going back to the emotional point, no one's gonna care if you can't connect the audience with that emotion that's going through, that the character is going through. So I would say, right, what you know, from an emotional standpoint, yeah, if you if you just went through a horrible, horrible grieving process about losing your grandfather, and you know how it feels and you know what you had to overcome, coming to terms with the death of this person in your life, right, a spy movie about a spy who's on a mission while he's dealing with the death of somebody who really mattered to him. Show him trying to complete this mission with the cool spy stuff, while on the back of his mind distracting him from what he has to do all the time is crap. My grandfather just died. This man was everything to me. And I loved him so much, because you know how that feels. There's a great line in Have you ever read on writing by Stephen King? Oh, yes, it was one of the first writing books I wrote. It's, it's the best writing book I've ever read. And there's a line in there where he talks about writing as telepathy, like you're punching keys, and you're taking an image in your head, and you're putting it on the page and your mouth isn't moving, you're trying to take a image and putting it in someone else's brain, I want you to do the same thing with emotion, whatever you're feeling, you need to put that feeling on the page, and you need to like transfer it through paper through magic into somebody else. That's what's going to make them continue on in your story. So you need to find the emotion that you're feeling. Make it again, take it from your body and put it into paper, and then send that paper off for someone else to take that feeling that you got in order for for you to be successful. Because otherwise, like me and sad we're talking about, they're just not going to care. Yeah, it's just not gonna care. I've written some things that I've had never had experience doing that stuff before. But I always have thought about if, what emotionally Can I relate to about the circumstance that this person is going through. And that's always like the connecting factor. So that you can write about something like a going to the moon, which I've obviously never done, but if I could find some emotional connection to the character, something that's happening in their life that I can click to, then it can be definitely more compelling, right. I'm writing historical novel, historical fiction novel right now and play taking place in the 1700s. And yeah, what do I know about that? You know what I mean, but like, finding out that, you know, certain aspects about his personal life have been really fun, because it's like, oh, yeah, I can connect to that you may have been lived in the 1700s. But those same personal problems, maybe not those professional problems, but those personal problems that are happening are still happening today to people because we're all human, right. And I'm sure that you'll agree with this, Genie, it's the idea with emotion, you have to show it not tell it. Because if, like, if, if there's a character who's afraid for their life, and the scene is there in their house, and they go to their roommate, and they go, I'm afraid that my crazy boyfriend who I just broke up with might kill me, that's, that's weak, that's cheap, no one's going to feel that. But if the scene starts with the roommate coming in, and hearing a commotion in the other room, and going to check on them, and it's the girl going into her closet, and just grabbing all her clothes, and just tossing them in a suitcase, and zipping it up, and I've been packing it and she's running around, and she's just crazy, and she's grabbing all her stuff, because she's so afraid that her boyfriend or ex boyfriend is gonna come over there and killer then you're showing the reader Okay, this this character is actually afraid for their life I need to care about what's what's happening here. It brings the the reader more fully into the world. And once to me, that's the, that's the magic key that kind of unlocks a lot of writers potentials, I've had two clients specifically, who have struggled in the beginning. And then once they kind of learn the lesson of like, showing the reader why to care, that's what I feel like so far, in my experience is like opening the door, and kind of given them like the aha moment. And every script that I've read, read from them after that was 10 times better. It's never perfect. There's always notes, but like, once they grasp that concept, things tend to come so much easier. In my experience. You said a badge, that I know safety loves notes. Oh, I thought you were gonna say ex boyfriend. Now. Nobody likes those words. Nobody likes those words. No. Can you tell them a Moses is starting to kick in getting up? Yeah, I love notes, notes. And the note behind the note. Yes, the note behind the note is always critical in the art of taking notes and how to actually apply them to your work. I will say I think that you're right, the art of taking notes is especially for someone who wants to be a professional writer, a understanding that as a professional writer, you're writing for somebody else. Because if you're writing for yourself, then you can write whatever the hell you want. But if you're writing to get paid, you need to write to satisfy the person who's paying you and really coming to grips with what that means. And knowing that the story starts out as being yours, but then it's going to evolve into being somebody else's, is a really important thing. But then the idea of understanding what the note is actually saying because you know I've been doing this for 10 plus years now, I can tell you without a doubt, the notes I gave in the early part of my career, were not as good as the notes I give now. It's just not even close and I Feel like being through practice through doing it. hundreds upon 1000s, maybe 10s of 1000s of times now, I feel like my notes are pretty clear. And generally when I, when I give a note on something, I don't just give the what to change, I give the why to change it. But not every person has that that ability in that clarity. And so saying, okay, they want me to take out this subplot in the second act, but I think it's really important for the emotional knowledge of the character. Why do they want me to take it out? I think the note is actually saying, the second act drags on, let me try to pace it up. Let me try to find something else to cut that's going to get to it faster, so I can keep this thing that I want. And still give them what they're actually looking for, to kind of get through this thing faster. Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're not. But you do need to figure out what people are actually saying with their notes. Because there's, there's layers to a script, there's the topical plot stuff. And then there's the thing is, things that are happening underneath. And sometimes you have to find the deeper dive into what those things are. I love getting feedback, and I can like read your book then. And I like getting really honest feedback like i don't i and then I like to sometimes I cry. And then I'll be like, Okay, I'm not sure I'm buying into what you want me to do. But it's just a scene, so I'm going to write it and, and then in writing it and trying it on, you can all of a sudden a lot of times ends up being Oh, okay, and I won't have executed it the same way they wanted me to or they suggested that I did, but I found a way to execute it in a way that worked for me emotionally, story wise, whatever. And then it was like Now I understand why you told me to do this, you know, so you have to try it before you really understand the note behind the note. I during the pandemic I I bought masterclass which was mostly a waste of money in my opinion. But I listened to the Neil Gaiman masterclass, which again, I love Neil Gaiman. He's my favorite author, I've got the entire Sandman series right here. And like three other of his books, like I think he's probably one of the greatest living authors, there was one thing he said that I really thought stood out, which was, if you give it to 10 people, you're the thing that you've written, and eight of them come back, say the exact same thing. That's a pretty consistent problem, you should probably listen to that note. But if you give it to eight people, or 10, people, and eight, they all come back saying different things. That's just opinions. And then your opinion supersedes theirs. But that's the note that you follow the one that where you can tell, okay, this is what the audience and mass thinks. And that's not my intention for it. So let me work on that. That's the important part of that. You know, when you're given notes, by a development executive, it's always your choice whether to take it, but you also need to be wary of the fact that, especially if you're a professional writer, these are the people who decide if you move on to production or to series. And in production, and in series come, the more money comes the promise of continued paychecks. And so yes, you can say, I'm not going to take that note, or I'm not gonna take any of these notes, I'm just going to cut around the edges, because I think it's good enough. But again, if you're a professional writer, writing to make other people happy, then you might need to take notes that you don't want to make, you might need to change things you don't want to change. In order to get your overall goal, which is get paid. I think we kind of came full circle on that. It's, you know, reading what, you know, to a certain extent, right, and what you enjoy and doing something that makes you happy in this industry. But also there is that idea of success of all you want a paycheck. So do you just give into the machine and turn out the stuff that kills your soul, just so you have a roof over your head. And now it means generals and meetings and going out on, you know, open writing assignments and pitching my idea and writing things that aren't my ideas and rewriting other writers and taking writing credit away from another writer. I mean, there's some like, ugly, icky things that you have to like wrap your brain around that this is what being a professional screenwriter is. It's how the sausage gets made, man. I mean, I mean, that's life, right? We all have skills, and we're trying to get compensated for our skills to the highest possible dollar value. Hey, one of the things that I don't think a lot of writers realize is once you make that first sale, that's probably what you're going to be doing for the foreseeable future. Because like, let's say like you said, you write a spec. Let's say you write like, indie horror spec. It's not something that you normally do, but you just tried it, it turned out really well and you sell it your agent sells it. What do you think after that sale, your agents gonna send people as your sample, they're gonna send you they're gonna send people the sample that sold they're gonna be like, hey, look, this is the spec that sold. Lionsgate is producing it. It's got this director on it, it's in the process like that's the impressive sample and so What are they going to use a horror spec for horror, open assignments, horror rewrites, things of that nature horror franchises like, you might want to write dramatic stuff like, True Detective. But if you haven't written something that's gotten traction in that vein, your agent can't get you those jobs because no one's going to hire you to write True Detective based off a horror sample. But these emerging writers out there don't necessarily realize how the business works in the sense of like, yeah, you might write a specific genre really well. But then you need to recognize that that's the those are the jobs that you're going to get moving forward from, from that I don't, I don't really know how I feel about emerging writers. I certainly like it better than aspiring. I cannot stand that expression. Because it's like, if I'm putting words on the page, I'm not aspiring to write I'm writing. Yeah, I'm actually writing. This is the conversation that you and Matt and I got into and I would love to get Sandy's opinion on this. Yeah. Coming up in the business, Satie. I got very used to saying baby writers. And baby doesn't mean anything in terms of age, or in terms of gender, or in terms of race. It just means your career stature, like, if you're a writer, who is writing specs and hasn't sold anything, you're a baby, you don't have any experience yet. And once you make that sale, you start gathering the credits and you start moving up and all of a sudden, you're not a baby anymore. You're a working professional writer. But Matt, showed me a Twitter thread that was getting quite a lot of traction, possibly based off one of the articles I wrote where I say baby writer, can I say it a lot. And people were complaining. I don't want to be known as a baby writer. I'm not a baby infant infant tantalizing me. I don't like it, I think and people were commenting that emerging, was more correct. Now I have problems with emerging writers. Because as you were saying, Jeannie, I feel like you can't tell me you're emerging. Like that's like an NFL player, or like a football player wanting to play in the NFL and saying, Well, I'm an emerging NFL quarterback. Well, you don't have an NFL job. You don't have an NFL tryout. You're just a guy who wants to play quarterback. You can't tell me you're an emerging talent. The NFL tells me that like the NFL tells me Oh, you signed to a team. Okay, you're an emerging talent. You just like that. You can't tell me you're an emerging writer. But that is apparently the politically correct. Take the stance nowadays. And I'm just curious about it. Because quite frankly, I don't like saying it. And I would like to find a reason to stop. Well, I think just like any Twitter trends, emerging writers can probably last another week until they find something else. And baby writer. Yeah, that's something I've always heard. I've never been offended by it. And to genies point. I mean, if you're an emerging writer, you're a writer. So just say that you're a writer, but I think it's just depends on where you are in your stage in that career as a writer, if only it only took nine months. Right, right, exactly. And oftentimes, I will say, young writer only because like you might be a 40 year old who just decided to start writing two years ago, two years out of 40. You're pretty new to that idea. And so you're still young in your career as a writer, as opposed to like Neil Gaiman, who's been writing for like 3040 years now. And he would just add massive amounts of success. So I don't think that young writer is offensive either. But I'm also this is why I don't go onto Twitter very often, I only go to check once my articles get posted to see what people say about them. That's forced him to come back. Like I started tagging him and things. I'm sure he was getting alerts, like, I haven't gotten a Twitter alert in forever. Basically, it was like I logged on it was like you have 20 plus alerts and I'm like, Oh, god, what did I say that blew up? Am I getting cancelled yet? I knew it was gonna happen one day. Well, I wonder like, writers who are born seasoned. Do they prefer to be called veteran writers does that age them out? People will say veteran scribe I mean, I've definitely heard like deadline articles, they would say like this veteran scribe is repped by this place in that place. So I don't think it ages them out. I think it just it's like a it's like a level of stature like you've leveled up but you've achieved better in the status in the business. So yeah, I mean, I don't I don't because then when you're saying like even you're saying, aspiring writer, emerging writer. I don't really know that there is a good appropriate label for that, which I think is hard for people, you know, because they want to be able to identify as a writer you know, like that's that's also part of it, you know, they want which is Satie had given a quote before you came on. See now I need my prep gin and vitamin confidence, it was about confidence and say the quote, and then I'll finish my thought. Yeah, it's a Mark Twain, quote, if it goes to succeed in life, you need two things, ignorance and confidence. Yep. And some perhaps, labeling people labeling themselves as writer, whether whatever you preface it with, helps give them that confidence to keep going because it's what they they want to do. And maybe maybe for people identifying as a baby writer doesn't quite give them the confidence that they need it. So it's like, yeah, I can understand that point. And again, I would say, if you want to call yourself an emerging writer, go ahead. Don't expect me to call you an emergent. until I've, I've given you until other people have bestowed that upon you. And then that Mark Twain quote, Sandy, I think is actually very similar to another Neil Gaiman always comes back to Neil, quote, where he said, in order to be a successful writer, you need to have the confidence of an eight to 10 year old boy, the ability to not know at all what you're doing, but you don't care. You just do it anyway. And that, like allows you to try things that you would never have thought might work or that you would. Other people might tell you, it's not gonna work. And then all of a sudden you try it, and it does work. And then you become a superstar overnight. And I think that, you know, that's like, perfect timing. Because last night, we watched big, haven't seen big in so long. And so as I'm watching it, and I'm watching him he has, it's like that age, where you have no inhibitions. So he's just like testing the toys, doing all the things that come naturally to him. He's not worried about what other people think or what they care about him. And I think that's that thing, if you can write like that, like Stephen King says, and I'm writing right with the door shot, like don't worry about what people think Don't worry about anybody else reading this just be authentic, and really poured onto the page, you know, and not filter yourself. And just like just like you spike, unfiltered. Oh, my mind just comes for not knowing when I should shut up. However, if you ladies can't tell my Mimosa is almost gone. So whatever. Big like nuclear bomb questions you wanted to ask him this, now's the time. We did have one coming in. Because I remember you mentioned Genie, before you popped on Spike was something about contracts and knowing your worth as your writer? How do you establish yourself and ask for money? for projects, man? Do we need to pause while you go for another one? I don't have any more orange juice left. So I can't you can just drink the champagne. Throughout three completely honest, this was an entire bottle of champagne. So I don't have any more champagne left? Um, that is such a tricky question. Say it. I don't know. I think that that's one of those case by case basis thing. You have to be okay with the idea of them dropping you. So going back to the confidence idea, you have to be confident enough in your writing ability to get another job if that one doesn't play out. So you kind of have to act as though you have options when you don't. I mean, I'm a big believer in in artists getting paid what they're worth. Unfortunately, hollywood doesn't feel the same way Hollywood to bottom line business. And especially for like directors you have to pay actors you have to pay crew you can skimp on a lot of times people try to skimp on writers fees. And this is one of the issues that the Writers Guild of America has had for a very long time is that writers writers pay has not been going up in, in appropriate equal fashion to the price of the cost of movies and the cost of other talent. So this is why I think that it's much if I was ever going to be a writer in 2021, I would not make it my main hustle, I would have either a business on the side or a day job that fulfilled me that paid my bills and I would write in my spare time because in the in the day and age of strict budgets and micro budgets and the frickin Jason blem model which is paying nobody until I absolutely have to. There's a high chance that you're not going to get paid and i've i've seen those fights play out and they're not always pretty. So there's no clean cut answer to that one. You know, a lot of people equate money with success. And in it you know, when you're writing like when I first started writing and I would write articles or you know, guest blogging on somebody's site or reviews of things or whatnot. I was starting, I had no published clips, nobody wanted to pay me anything. They thought they were doing me a favor to let them, you know, to let me write for them. And you with exposure gene exactly, you're getting exposure and exposure. And that just makes me want to vomit. But I recognized in the beginning, I didn't have any hand, you know, like I had no hand, I was a baby writer. It was like, wow, like too bad. Like, I had no hand I had nothing, nothing I could do. So what I did for all you people out there who are in that spot, and you're looking for published clips, especially if you want to write for magazines, or whatever online sites or whatever to get that your voice out there, which I would also recommend because a lot of people discovered me as a as a, as a, you know, wanting to read my novels or read my screenplays, because they read my articles. So they knew I could tell a story in 1200 words, so they wanted to see what I yes. So they wanted to see what I could tell in larger words. That's actually the story of how both my writing partner and Doug Richardson first read my work because they were reading my articles and script magazine, and they're reading the blogs that I would write on my own website. And Doug Richardson after about six months of knowing him, I never asked him to read my stuff. He was reading my articles, and he said, Cosby's calls you up one day and he goes, you know, you can write, like, I want to read this script, you know, and I'm like, Okay, and then he ended up coming on to the project because it gave me notes. And he liked the way I took notes, and then said, Can I come out and help you with this? You know, and we never got it produced, but it was a what you want to talk about a masterclass. I mean, a masterclass working with him, and Tom Shaw met him. He was like, incredible. But so what I did, but go circling back to the articles in the very beginning, I would ask people who anybody wanted me to write for free? I would say, okay, but can you go on my LinkedIn and like, write me a recommendation? Like, can you do like, so at least I was getting something for it. And, and that made me feel like I was being valued. You know, because that recommendation meant more to me than 50 bucks, you know? Yeah. And you're working to trade in that point. Right? Right. And then that gets you the next job. Because then you've got now I've got published clips, I could put up on my site, that to use to query other publications that would pay me money. So right, like, it was a win, win. And just like, like going back to the Hollywood working in the business side of it, like everyone has to intern to start to make the relationships and that's how you're getting paid. You're not getting paid in money. You're getting paid in relationships. And when I was starting out there was the whole fight about well, is unpaid interns really an ethical thing to do? Should we be doing it there was the whole lawsuit about asking for free work for things like that, because it didn't follow the laws? And I understood it, but in the same sense, yeah. I mean, like, you're, you have nothing to offer those people at that point. I mean, it though the article is a slightly different thing, because you are giving them content to put on their website. But you're working on a trade of, of at least value to you where you're getting something out of it. Now, you can't do that forever, you can't work for free forever, because at some point you have to eat but just starting out, I don't think there's anything wrong with with writing for free. Since I've been published publishing on Pipeline Artists, there have been two or three, I think two outlets that have come to me and said, Hey, we want you to write for us and I'm looking at their pay scale. And I'm like, why would I go to you? Like there's, there's no, there's no incentive for me to do that. Like, I would rather just continue to publish my ideas on Pipeline Artists. Yay. Yeah. Congrats. Like, there you go. And I want to actually like circle back to the reason your stuff is so good. And like what I was, and I actually Oh, say the balls of steel article for script magazine. Because it's that your and this is the same approach I take with balls of steel, which I think the book is coming out June 1, by the way, what is balls of steel though? I don't know balls of steel is a article I was writing prescript magazine for like 10 years. And like a like a like a series series like regular series about how it takes balls of steel to be a writer to be in this industry. And you've gotten just to live like damn true, right? Yeah, that's so yeah. And, but I think why your stuff is so popular, speaks to exactly what you recommend to your writers, who, who your clients. It's getting to the authentic core. You know, you're you're not sugarcoating anything, you're going right to it. This is and you're passionate about what you're writing about, because you want to help the reader. Like you want them to learn something. And so you're not like, Oh, well, yeah, maybe, maybe Oh, yeah, don't worry about I'm just gonna steal your stuff and then move on, like you go into like to really explain to them so they understand, like, you know, what's going on here, and, and how to look at things. And I think that's why, just like if you're writing a screenplay, you know, your graphic novel or whatever, when you tap into that authenticity, people love it, and they resonates with them, and they come back for more. Totally, totally, yeah, no, I look, the articles I write for pipeline are what I would tell people pretty consistently, if they if they saw me in person, though, the exact same thing. They're just more well plot out and probably more articulate, because I have a chance to go back and edit them and make them sound pretty. They also probably contain about 20% fewer curse words than I would probably put in like a normal conversation. One of the things I tell my clients is, don't give so much of a shit about someone likes your work just right. Like, if you like what you're writing, the chances are that someone else is going to as well. And so you're not writing to make someone out there happy you're writing to find 1 million people who are like you and resonate with your voice, and you're there to make them happy. If there's any. I have many thoughts on the content explosion that we're going through in terms of television and streaming and having 500 600 700 However, many shows there are now out on the web and being produced. But if there's anything that that showed is that you don't need to be 100 million people's favorite show to be successful. If you can be 1 million people's favorite. That's all it takes. Help me less than that. If you're going to be 500,000 people's favorite. That's enough. Like for Big Little Lies. What was the sequel to that? Was it like broken mirrors or something? I'm drunk? I can't quite remember that. I don't remember. shards, like like, like pretty shards or something like yeah, whatever it was like the sequel to that got all this acclaim and Hollywood, everyone's talking about it. You know what the numbers on that were less than a million viewers. Nobody watched it. But it's like, it had enough of a following. And it was on the right network with the right people to where it's still got all this buzz, because it had all the right elements even though it was a very niche show. You don't need to be everyone's favorite perfect example. Again, one of the shows I worked on at my last company and I won't name the name cuz I'm not quite that drunk yet. But that show survived for five seasons. We only pulled in like a million viewers in episode. Like we didn't pull in that many. But for us that was good enough. It was a metric that worked. It kept us going we made a profit on that. And we made extra viewers up not in the the actual air but we made it up in the in the the repeat viewing and the going on our website and watching the episode there with commercials. We made bigger numbers than that. But the the hardcore fans who watched it every week, whenever it came on there, I think was like 1.1 May at one point to like a really good episode. You don't need to appease the masses, you just need to find your core audience. And if that core audience is big enough, you're going to be valuable to somebody in house. Spike, thank you so much for so perfect timing. He just is with the last the last gope thank you so much for hanging out with us this afternoon and chatting about all this and I think you might be onto something. I think we might have to turn this podcast into like a like a drunk history. Like we make. Yeah, big. All of our guests drink all throughout the show and see where they go. Yeah, maybe we'll just have you come back and talk about you could talk about Neil Gaiman. I loved it. I love it. This is great. I really enjoyed it. Nice meeting you Sandy. Always good talking to you. Jeannie. I cannot wait to send you my latest article. Oh, yeah. So I might start another one who knows the world is my oyster or you can start it before you sober up. We'll see how that one turns.