Another Rung in the Ladder

Maybe you’ve noticed that my feature slider bar on the side there hasn’t moved in a while — maybe you don’t give a fuck. But I do have a valid excuse. Not just procrastination. I promise.

I got a manager.

That’s right motherfuckers.  All that hard work is starting to show. It can be done. I am living proof. There is someone out there that read my work and said, “Huh, maybe I can make money off this guy.” Well, Mr. Manager — I hope you can. I hope you fucking can.

So — now the excuse.  Said manager wants me to focus on TV, so I’ve switched gears and I’ve started writing a new pilot.  Feature is being put on hold for a while. I’ll probably end up taking it off the slider soon. I don’t mind — because I want to be working in TV right now anyway.

So … what now?

Hopefully get a staff job.  If I don’t move from assistant land into professional writing land sometime soon I may explode.




Writing Tip: Learn to Write Anywhere

Welcome to 2016 you procrastinating pieces of shit!

Let’s face it — a writer will basically find any excuse not to write. And we all know the number one mistake new writers make is not writing.

One question I see asked over and over again to professional writers is “What does your writing space look like?”. I feel this question stems from a big problem in young writer’s minds. And that problem is a little voice that says “I need to be in the right environment to write, and if I could only figure out what environment my favorite writers write in, then maybe I will write better.” You know what that is? That is called bullshit. Absolute Grade-A-Mother-Fucking-Bullshit. It’s an excuse! Because deep down you don’t want to write, you want to have written. And your mind is looking for any excuse not to write. So you tell yourself, “I’ll write later when I can go to Starbucks.” Or “I can’t wait until I finish my home office, because then I can write.” Or “I can only write sitting alone in my room wearing my specific noise-cancelling headphones and listening to that specific soundtrack I created specifically for my story.” No. These are excuses to not write now.

Listen – I understand everyone has their “ideal writing environment”. But the problem is when that “ideal writing environment” stops you from actually  writing. If you would stop reading this article right now and start writing, wherever you are, you would find that it is not only possible, it’s really not much different from writing anywhere else. Guess what, you can even write on a pad of paper freehand! OMG. Or on your PHONE. I know. It’s insane. Who knew?

Put aside that dream of your perfect writing room. You know — the one with the large wooden desk and the view of the ocean. The fireplace crackling nearby with a hot steaming cup of coffee in easy reach — And realize that it is what it is — only a dream. Maybe someday you will get that perfect writing space, and I for one hope you do, but for now, do yourself a favor and realize that until you can write anywhere, you will never be a professional writer.

What I Read in 2015

Here is my annual book list for 2015. Are you ready? Okay. Let’s start from the bottom and count up to my favorite book of the year.

Note: These are books I read this year — doesn’t mean they came out this year.

15. Armada by Ernest Cline

After reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, his first novel, I was fucking thrilled to read his second novel. I even pre-ordered a hard copy on Amazon. I NEVER pre-order books. I don’t think I have since Harry Potter was flying off the shelves on release day. Really the only good thing I have to say about this book regards the cover art. It’s a beautiful looking book. But, unfortunately, that won’t save it. Where RPO is a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream, Armada is being wet dreamed on by a fat, smelly, neck-bearded 43-year-old that lives in his parent’s basement.  It doesn’t even compare to Cline’s first novel. It was simply… Meh. I give it 2 out of 5 stars for effort and I do not recommend.

14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This book must be forgettable because I’m having trouble remembering the plot. Oh yes. It’s about a girl whose entire family was murdered by Satanists. Sounds fun, right? It was okay. A good girl power book from the author who gave you that movie where you see Ben Affleck’s dick. I liked it. The book. Not the … Anyway, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. The book.

13. The Fold by Peter Clines

I have a love hate relationship with this book. It starts out wicked slow. And the plot drags and drags. Giving you just enough to want to keep reading and find out just what the fuck is going on. But it’s a smart book, and rubs that sci-fi itch pretty damn good. And the last third is fantastic and super inventive. So I give it 3 out of 5 stars and a pretty decent recommendation.

12. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Just finished this one. This is a collection of shorts by the one and only Mr. King. There are some really great stories in it. And none of them are bad. I especially enjoyed Blockade Billy, The Dune, and the one near the end about the fireworks. I highly recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Stephen King is always amazing. If you don’t read short stories, this is a great way to start.

11. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6) by Stephen King

The penultimate book in Stephen King’s highly regarded Dark Tower series. Which … did you hear Idris Elba might play the Gunslinger in the movies? That would be fantastic. I honestly didn’t love this book, but it’s part of a greater whole which I highly recommend. So I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars — and suggest you read the entire series.

10. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1) by Stephen King

One of King’s newer books about a psychotic fuckhead bent on killing innocent people and the ex-cop trying to track him down. I enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 stars to this one.

9. The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1) by Conn Iggulden

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and I heard Conn is a master. So I’ve started reading his books from the first series he wrote — the Emperor series about Julius Caesar. Spoiler alert –  he dies. But not in the first book — it focuses on his childhood. I plan on reading out the rest of the series and starting some of Conn’s other series while I’m at it. I recommend this book if you enjoy Roman Historical Fiction. 4 out of 5 stars.

8. Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2) by Stephen King

The sequel to Mr. Mercedes. If you enjoyed Mr. Mercedes you’ll like this one even more. Better plot and better characters IMO. 4 out of 5 Stars.

7. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War, #2) by John Scalzi

Okay — let me introduce the Old Man’s War series here. I enjoyed the first book better than the second, but not by much. If you enjoy sci-fi — like the fun Star Trek/Star Wars type of sci-fi…. you will love this series. John Scalzi is honestly one of the best new authors I’ve read in a really really long time. I am going to read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. But in the meantime — go buy the books in the Old Man’s War series. They are thoughtful, action packed, hilarious, and smart. 4 out of 5 stars to this bad boy, but almost, almost a 5.

6. The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I started reading Sanderson this year with the Stormlight Archive, and you can read what I think of those books coming up. I think under normal circumstances I would have given The Final Empire 5 out of 5 stars … but I enjoyed the Stormlight Archive so fucking much, it bumped this book down to 4 out of 5 stars… but it soooo wants to be a 5 star you can taste it. And it tastes good. The Mistborn series is a fantasy novel about people who can use Allomancy — that is a magic that has to do with different metals. Sanderson is a master of magic systems and the best fantasy author I’ve read in forever. I will read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. And he writes like 12 books a years. So… fuck.

5. Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) by John Scalzi

I’ve already told you what I think of the Old Man’s War series up above, so all you need to know is this first book is fantastic and you should click on the title up above which will take you to an amazon page where I command you to buy it right now. Okay? Great. 5 out of 5 stars.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

The first book by Andy Weir — and I will be buying the second. I only hope I don’t get burned like I did with Ernest Cline.  I’m sure you’ve heard of this book — after all, a giant fucking hit of a movie with Matt Damon was adapted off it. I don’t care if you do or do not like the movie or if you haven’t even seen it. This book is fantastic. It’s in my top five books of the year. And you must read it. 5 out of 5 stars.

3. Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson

This book is amazing. See below. 5 out of 5 stars.

2. The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

If you enjoy fantasy novels, you must give this series a try. It’s practically the best book I read all year. It’s really long — over 1000 pages, as is the sequel, but they are fantastic. Sanderson is amazing at world building, creating extremely unique and interesting locations, and his magic systems are some of the best. This is a series that Sanderson is currently writing. There are two books out now, out of a planned ten. The third is set to release sometime near the end of 2016 or early 2017. 5 out of 5 stars for sure. I highly recommend. Oh jesus, I just realized these books will still be coming out after I have children. And I will read them with my children. Or they will be disowned.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Even though I don’t necessarily think this is the best book I read all year, I have to give it the top spot because it captivated me more than any other book I read. I couldn’t put the book down. It’s so easy these days to get distracted or overwhelmed with the amount of entertainment being shoved in our faces, however this book completely took over my life. I was even reading it at work. I don’t know how he did it, but Cline simultaneously holds the best and worst spots on my 2015 book list. I give RPO 5 out of 5 stars and super highly recommend.

Reader Question: How to Get A Job With No Work Experience

Another Question — man, we’re blowing through them today.

So far your website has been extremely helpful and I am grateful. But I would like to know what to do with my resume if I’ve never worked in the film industry beyond student films? My previous work history is in retail (not by choice, it’s something I got stuck in when I was studying and now I’m finding it difficult to get out & I can’t afford to move literally)
You said that no one cares about previous work history outside the film industry. I have none. No one cares about my student films (the only filmmaking experience I have thus far). But you also said that anyone can be a PA, that you don’t need to go to film school to become one, it’s an entry level position. What can you recommend I do to make myself employable by actual production companies with no industry experience and what I can do with limited sparkle on my resume?

Yes. I know it’s confusing and frustrating and irritating. It’s that age-old catch 22. You need work experience to get the job, but you need the job to get work experience. That’s why breaking in is so hard. The answer you’re looking for is one you don’t want to hear.

Know someone.

And if you don’t know anyone. Find someone to know.

When I came out to LA I knew one person out here and knew OF one person out here. That one person I knew of was a friend’s sister who happened to be working in photo shoots. She was able to get me an unpaid job on a photo shoot where I kicked ass and met people in the art department. I then used those contacts to get paid PA work from the art people I met — and so on.

The person I knew OF happened to be someone who went to my film school that I had literally never talked to or met in my life. But I got their number from another person and cold called them. “Hey, it’s so and so. I went to your film school. I’m out in LA now. If there is any way you can get me a PA job it would be really helpful. Lets meet for coffee. I’ll buy.” Etc — etc.  That guy got me a couple shitty PA jobs and some unpaid jobs that eventually — almost 5 years later — has networked me into the job I have now. Yes, I can track the job I have now all the way back to that first job the dude I didn’t even know got me.

You have to get someone to give you a chance. And to do that, you have to find someone who is already out in LA working with connections.

Another story —  I walk into a bar in LA and end up talking to two other guys who work in the industry. Turns out one of them works in production for music videos. I tell them I’m a PA looking for work. We exchange numbers — go our separate ways — a few months later I get a call from someone saying I was recommended for a music video shoot. Turns out it was that guy I met at the bar.

Meet people. Know people.

Does your cousin have a friend whose sister has a friend whose uncle is working in LA? Find them and meet them and ask them for a job.


Progress Bar

The #1 mistake new writers makes is that they DON’T WRITE.

Even though I’ve finished three original pilots and a spec episode over the past couple years — I’ve started and NOT finished twice as many. So, to help keep me accountable, I’ve put up a little progress bar on the right side of the screen. See it there? If you notice that progress bar doesn’t move for a few weeks. Feel free to cuss me the fuck out and tell me I’m worthless.



Reader Question – Job Decisions

Hello, hope this Christmas season is treating you well! Back when I was working as a production assistant — Christmas was the worst. I was stuck out in California away from my family with nowhere to go. And guess what, the ENTIRE FUCKING INDUSTRY basically grinds to a halt. Which means no work. Which means no money. Which means… blegh.  So, I feel for you PAs out there. I really do. Hopefully you were able to grab enough work over the past few months to tide you over.

One thing I tried to do every year was find a producer or someone who needed house-sitting over the holidays. A good way to make a little cash over Christmas break. Especially if you’re not going home to visit family or something. But if you CAN go home on your parents dime. DO IT! Free food = the best food when you’re poor.

Anyway — here is a reader question I found in my inbox recently.

Hey, just found your blog and absolutely love it! Anyway I have a big question… I was hired almost 2 months ago at an Agency – I’m finally starting to get everything down and about to hit 2 weeks paid vacation for the holidays. They’ve trained me from being fresh out of college and Pilot season is around the corner. I’m also on REDACTED IMPORTANT PERSON’S desk, which is pretty awesome. The thing is I’ve got a potential job opp for doing what I really want to do, gain experience as a PA on a show. Do I cut and run knowing this opportunity is rare or should I tough it out at the Agency to prevent burning this bridge?


Okay — now with that out-of-the-way.

What you should be asking yourself is — what is your end goal? Do you want to be an agent? Or do you want to work in production? If you’re not sure what you want to do — maybe talk to some current PAs about production and see if it’s something you really want to do. Or better yet — dip your toes in by offering to work as a PA for free one day — A day that you don’t have to be at your agency job  — just as extra help to get some set experience.

The thing is — Being a PA sucks. There are some (crazy) people out there that actually love being a PA. But most of those people want to become ADs or coordinators. I admit — I REALLY enjoyed being a PA for the first year I moved to LA. But after the initial HOLY SHIT I’M WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY FOR REAL wears off — you will realize you’re just a slave at the bottom of a very long totem pole.  You’re a slave at the bottom with the job you have now, but YOU’RE a slave with PAID vacations. Do you get health insurance at your job as well? — because holy Christ if you do DON’T LEAVE.

Every job in the industry is really hard to get — even the one you have. Working a desk at an agency is super competitive. So if you have ANY desire to become an agent — or hell — even a producer. I would 100% stay at the job you have and milk all the contacts and relationships out of it that you can. PA jobs will come and go. The worst thing (and the most likely thing) to come out of leaving you job for this PA job is — you take the PA job. It lasts what? A few months? Half a year at best? And then you decide you don’t like it. And when the show is over — so is your job. And guess what — there is a new girl sitting at the desk job you used to have. So you’re fucked outta luck, kiddo.

But honestly, if becoming a Set PA is 100% your hearts desire — do it. I just want you to know the risks you’re taking.


I assume you’re talking about a set pa position, but my reply applies to all PA positions. Except maybe a writer’s PA position. If you want to be a writer and a writer’s PA position becomes available 100% take it.

Christmas Gifts for Screenwriters

Want to get that writer or screenwriter something they’ll love and actually USE for Christmas? Here’s a quick buying guide. Enjoy.


Kindle Paperwhite

I bounced this item to the top of my list because it is literally my favorite electronic device. The kindle paperwhite is a brilliant piece of technology. And it actually looks like you’re reading off paper. And the battery life lasts for weeks. I would rather cut off my hands than ever read off an ipad or kindle fire again. Buy this. Now.

Coffee Mug Warmer

This thing is awesome. I have one. It rocks. Keeps that coffee warm if you enjoy drinking out of a mug — if you don’t like a mug, check below item.

Yeti Rambler

I literally use the Yeti Rambler every single day. Works for hot drinks and cold drinks. It is my favorite cup/mug/travel mug. A little embarrassed to say it, but I actually own three of these things. They clean easy and keep drinks cold all day long. No shit. Put ice coffee in this thing at 8am, you’ll still have ice cubes well after lunch.


Another thing I use on the reg. Adjustable height. Great if you don’t want to buy a super expensive stand up desk.

Writer Emergency Pack

26 Illustrated cards designed by those great guys over at the ScriptNotes Podcast. Designed to help you out of a bind when you’re hitting some much dreaded writer’s block.

On Writing by Stephen King

This is one of my all time favorite books, let alone my favorite book on the craft of writing. Advice works for screenwriting just as much as novel writing. A must read for anyone interested in writing.


A writer can never have enough sharpies. ‘Nuff Said.


A writer can also never have enough Note Cards. They’re amazing for breaking story.

I will frequently be updating this page as the holiday season comes along and good gift ideas come to mind.


Alright everyone. Long time no posting. Let’s remedy that.

I spend a shit ton of time listening to podcasts since my commute is about an hour every morning and every afternoon. If you’re doing the math, that is pretty much 10 hours of podcasts going into my face every work week. Some of that time is dedicated to listening to podcasts about writing — specifically screenwriting. So here they are in no particular order.

  1. WRITING EXCUSES – “Brandon Sanderson, Mary Roninette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced, 15-minute format.” Now although this podcast is specifically geared towards writing science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, and comics, I can tell you from personal experience that pretty much everything they saw also applies to screenwriting.  A story is a story is a story . . . plus the short podcast length is perfect for a quick trip around town on errands.  Downside is the podcast seems to crash my iphone quite a bit. Not sure why.
  2. THE WRITER’S GUILD FOUNDATION PODCAST – “Founded in swinging, mondo-groovy 1966, The Writer’s Guild Foundation is the only organization in the world devoted solely to the promotion and preservation of writing for the screen. Our events and interviews capture screenwriters and television writers at their most intimate, and run the gamut from Oscar-winning dramatists to TV scribes writing to devoted fanbases.” This podcast provides some great interviews with screenwriters. The only problem is their episodes are few and far-inbetween.
  3. NERDIST WRITER’S PANEL – “The Nerdist Writer’s Panel series is an informal chat moderated by Ben Blacker (co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour; writer for Supah Ninjas, Supernatural, among others) with professional writers about the process and business of writing. Covering TV, film, comic books, music novels, and any other kind of writing about which you’d care to hear. Proceeds from the live panels benefit 826LA, the national non-profit tutoring program.” This podcast puts out a shit ton of material and some great interviews with screenwriters and comic writers. The only downside is sometimes the audio quality is total garbage. Lots of live panels.
  4. SCRIPTNOTES PODCAST – “Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.” A very helpful and entertaining podcast from two working screenwriters. Arguably one of the most popular screenwriting specific podcasts.
  5. FRESH AIR – “Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries.” Okay — so technically not a writing podcast. However Terry Gross does interview  a lot of writers. And a lot of topics the show tackles are good inspiration for stories. So I would def add to your podcast  list. The only downside is the sheer amount of material Fresh Air puts out is hard to make time to listen to. Even with the amount of time I put into listening.

There you have it. Go have fun.

Production Assistant Store

Hello! We’ve had an increase in page views on the clothing and accessories for a PA article, so I’ve decided to put it all in one place on a new page called the Production Assistant Store!

I’m not selling anything personally, but if you buy something off Amazon from one of those links they’ll kick me back a small percentage — so shop away me little PA minions!

But really — don’t spend money you don’t have. Most of these things can be acquired slowly throughout your production assistant career.



Back Up and Running

The site went down for a couple of weeks. Server-side problems. Sorry about that. All better now. How about a reader question!? I have a backlog.  Lets blow through these.

First, a quick one:

What do you think of sites like StaffMeUp and Mandy? – Nick

I’ve honestly never used either.  But it can’t hurt to look. Just beware of all the people asking for non-paid work. I think I wrote some articles on working for free before. ARTICLE ONE, ARTICLE TWO, ARTICLE THREE

Alright, onto the next one.

So I am currently going into my senior year at film school, and am trying to work as a PA in LA this summer. I have some money saved up, and am trying to buy some essential gear to have on set. I just don’t have enough money right now to buy all the essentials I have been compiling. Do you have any suggestions on which are the most important up front? Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you. – Shaeden.

I have an article written about PA gear here. But when talking about ESSENTIALS… I would say good shoes are #1, followed by sunscreen for day work, followed by warm clothes for night work, and sunglasses. Everything else is just extra. Don’t waste your money on crap you don’t need… until you can afford it. You can slowly build up your PA arsenal over time. Buy a multi-tool on one job… get something else on another. For now just get yourself some good comfortable shoes to run around in all day and you’ll be well on your way.  Everything else can come later. Save your money for surviving.

Note that all of this crap is for a Set PA… if you’re going to be in the office you’ll need different stuff. Like #1 would probably be a laptop.

Next one.

Hello, my name is Stevie and I am film school right now at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.  I came across your blog and find it very helpful.  I even take notes, its always good to keep those things in mind.  I am in a program where I will have my bachelors in 20 months.  I am in my 10th month right now so I will graduate in 10 months.  I am starting to feel the stress of wondering how I’m going to break into the business.  I read that you packed up and headed to LA which is what I plan to do.  I was just wondering if you had any advice for a film student getting ready to try to break into the PA world.  Thanks. – Stevie.

Hi Stevie. If you go through the archives of this website you’ll find a bunch of good advice. I would, if you can, try to lock down some work or make as many connections out here as you can NOW before moving out here. If you can afford to take a summer internship for no pay out here while still in school, do it. But if you can’t do any of that, just save up as much money as you can, come out here, find a place to stay, and start calling up ANYONE you know who works out here and asking them for a job, or if they know of anyone who can give you a job. Then take ANY job you’re offered. You just need to worry about getting your foot in the door. Even if it’s a job you don’t really want to stay in…. doesn’t matter. Take it. While you’re on that job meet everyone and make connections and when the job is over start bothering everyone you met about getting another job. Rinse and repeat until you have enough contacts that know you’re a kick ass worker who will call you up on the reg for work.

Alright. That’s all we have time for today. I’ve been working non-stop. Writing a lot. Still trying to get a manager. See you in another 6 months with an update.

A blog for aspiring screenwriters and those seeking to break into the film industry.