Today episode is a CROSSOVER between the IFH Podcast and the Bulletproof Screenplay Podcast. I do this every 6-8 weeks when I find a guest that would be great on both podcasts. On this episode, we have Michael Tucker from Lessons from the Screenplay. LFTS is a YouTube channel that analyzes movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories.
I’ve become a HUGE fan of what Micahel is doing and wanted to have him on the show to drop some knowledge bombs on both tribes! I’ve highlighted some of his work before on the blog: Social Network.
Enjoy my conversation with Michael Tucker from Lessons from the Screenplay
Alex Ferrari 1:58
So today's guest is Michael Tucker, from lessons from the screenplay. Now lessons from the screenplay is a YouTube channel that analyzes movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling you their stories. And Michael has been doing this for a little while now. And I have become a big, big, big fan of his channel, I wanted to have him on the show because he has learned a tremendous amount about how a lot of these some of the best stories out there are broken down and how they work and why they worked. He's really beaten them up a lot. And I think there's a lot of value in what he does on his channel. And I wanted to have him on the show to kind of figure out what his story was, as well as see if we can get some knowledge bombs dropped on the storytelling process. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Michael Tucker from lessons from the screenplay. How are you doing, brother?
Michael Tucker 3:13
I'm good. Good. Nice to see you or hear you I guess.
Alex Ferrari 3:17
Thank you so much for being on the show. Man. I am a huge fan of what you do over at lessons from the screenplay, man. It's, it is very inspiring and extremely helpful to all of us screenwriters out there. So thank you for the for the work the God's work that you're doing, sir.
Michael Tucker 3:34
Well, my pleasure, thank you. I'm glad I'm glad people are enjoying it and finding it valuable.
Alex Ferrari 3:38
Now why did you? Why did you want to become a screenwriter in the first place?
Michael Tucker 3:43
Well, I've pretty much always loved filmmaking like since I was a little kid. I remember watching Star Wars and just like having the thought of like, I want to do this. And so I've Yeah, since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to get into filmmaking at some respect. And at first it was I wanted to blow up x wings, because that just looked like so much fun, obviously. But as like, right. But as I got older, I sort of realized that the reason I was excited about those x wings blowing up is because of the story around it. And that like filmmaking is storytelling. And so that's when I sort of got more into wanting to be a director. And so a lot of my attention to writing came kind of through the lens of wanting to be a director. And so if you want to direct something, you have to have something to direct. And so that's kind of where all my writing aspirations came from is like, how do I create the best screenplay for me to then turn into a movie because that's the part that I love, and I've a lot of fun with. So that was sort of the beginning of my journey into writing and filmmaking.
Alex Ferrari 4:51
Now, what is the genesis of lessons from a screenplay At what point did you said, You know what, I'm going to start a YouTube channel and I'm going to do this.
Michael Tucker 4:58
Yeah, so I I've been in LA since 2010. And I came down and I did a bunch of short films and worked with friends on creative projects. And it was really great and learned a lot, but quickly realized that short films do not pay the bills. And so then I spent a lot of time doing like documentary editing, or just shooting random, you know, going on random shoots and stuff. And so 20, at the beginning of 2016, I was working on a documentary project that was going to sort of pay for my life for the next year. And then it all of a sudden got cut short. And it was like, literally within 24 hours and went from I'm employed for the year to, it's all over goodbye. And so I sort of found myself suddenly without any obligations, and had been working enough to have saved up a bit, sort of, for the first time since being in LA. And so I had this free time, and I had this little bit of cushion. And so my thought process was like, Okay, why don't I use this time to go back to focusing on creative stuff. And sort of where I left off in my creative journey was realizing that my, the writing side of my skill set was sort of the weakest link. I can direct about short term web series and stuff. And their early feedback was like, the directing was good. It feels like a movie, but the story is kind of weak. And so with this free time, I decided, Okay, I'm going to just dive into screenwriting, and relearn all the basics and kind of dive in to those fundamentals that I probably rushed through too much when I was in film school. And so I started reading a bunch of screenplays. And then as I was reading them, I thought, well, maybe I can write a blog post for each screenplay that I write. And that will help me retain the information that I learned. And then also can I can share it with people, and maybe they'll find it valuable, and it couldn't become a thing. And so in the process of writing that first blog post, I was thinking like, Well, actually, I think this could probably be a video. And you know, I followed nerdwriter, in every frame of painting and had seen sort of video essays and was a big fan of the educational side of YouTube with like, SciShow and B sauce and cgp. Grey and stuff. So as I was writing that blog post, I was like, Okay, well, I think this could be a video and I think I, you know, I have this skill set that I think I could make this happen. So why don't I try that. And so that was kind of the inception of the original idea of the dentinal. when
Alex Ferrari 7:33
Now, you started the channel, I'm assuming it didn't take off right away or did it It didn't take a little time to kind of get get its feet, you know, get it get its feet under neath itself
Michael Tucker 7:42
And actually took off right away, which I was pretty surprised about. I spent a lot of time preparing before releasing the first video. I think there's probably two or three months where it was just me brainstorming like what is the channel? What is the video look like? my first video, which is the Gone Girl video. Don't underestimate the screenwriter. I think I did somewhere between like five and seven versions of that video before arriving at the one that I uploaded. Because I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing when it came time to launch the channel. And so part of that was figuring out what is my voice? What is the thing that I want to say about screenwriting? What is already out there? How can I add to the conversation and not just, you know, copy somebody else? And so and then that all kind of culminated I'd done the gun girl video and my independence day video, which is the second video before releasing. But yeah, the on the first day that I released the gun girl video, I think it got 200,000 views.
Alex Ferrari 8:49
How How did that happen? That doesn't happen.
Michael Tucker 8:53
Yeah, I mean, it was incredibly lucky, I think. I mean, I it was, it was largely just to to read it. Like I posted it to Reddit, and that happened to take off and get traction there. Sure. And so, yeah, within the first day or two, probably it was at 200,000 views. And I think at the end of the first day at 8000 subscribers, so in one day going from zero to 1000 Yeah, that was crazy. So saying it was a really good sign because it you know, putting aside life for three months and saying like, maybe I'm going to become a YouTuber, and that's going to be my career is kind of a risky thing. So it was definitely affirming one, the first video like, you know, caught some attention. It was like, Okay, cool. I think maybe I'm not crazy. Maybe this can be a thing.
Alex Ferrari 9:38
So how long does it take you to do a typical episode nowadays?
Michael Tucker 9:43
The average I would say is about three weeks. And it's interesting because no two videos are the same. And each one has different challenges. And over time, I've gotten faster but then that also allows me to work on other projects and develop new ideas at the same time. So generally my release schedules been about one a month with Yeah, each one taking about three weeks to make with like a week of research week of writing, and then a week of kind of post production on it.
Alex Ferrari 10:17
Now you are an editor by trade as well. Correct? Are you do that as well?
Michael Tucker 10:21
Yeah, but most of my, like professional gigs have been in the editing realm.
Alex Ferrari 10:26
That is why these videos look as slick as they do. I mean, certainly has helped. Yeah, cuz I see some of these these video essays and you're like, oh, that was an iMovie, wasn't it? That a star wipe?
Michael Tucker 10:42
Yeah, I mean, that was one of the things when I first had the idea. And I was like, trying to do the crazy test of like, this seems like it's crazy. Are there reasons why it isn't crazy to do this. And one of the things was like, I kind of realized I had a very nice, well rounded skill set for it. Like I knew, after effects and motion graphics and editing and had, you know, I know writing and I made films, and so all that. It seemed like I had the things that I needed to make it happen. So it was it worked out that way.
Alex Ferrari 11:12
Now, you've covered David Fincher his films more than any other director. Is that is that a purposeful?
Michael Tucker 11:20
I don't know that it was conscious. But it's definitely because Fincher is my favorite director. And I think his his films have are some of my favorite films. So yeah, I didn't sit down and say, I'm going to like do Fincher films more than any other, but they get requested a lot. And they're some of my favorites. So it has worked out that way. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 11:42
What are some of the biggest mistakes screenwriters make that you've seen in your journey through lessons of a screenplay?
Michael Tucker 11:50
That's a good question. I mean, kind of because of the nature of the channel, I've pretty much only read really good screenplays. Sure. But um,
Alex Ferrari 12:00
But from your experience in general, what do you think some of the big mistakes that you've made personally, when writing?
Michael Tucker 12:05
Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, I think I sort of like I was saying, I kind of came at screenwriting from a director standpoint. And when I make my videos, I'm often picturing as the audience me in film school, like, you know, film school, Michael, who was really into directing and, and I think it's easy to get excited about the clever ideas or like, you know, this twist is going to be so cool, or like momento, we're like, half of its told backwards. Like, I like stories like that. And I don't like normal stories where it's just like, normal character, arc, and blah, blah, blah. And so I think that's something that I found it myself and other people I saw when I was in film schools, getting excited about the clever high concept stuff, and skipping past the very fundamental basics, like what is what is a simple character arc? Like, how do you design like a normal, conventional structured film? What can you learn from that, that then lets you, you know, play with those conventions later, but just kind of that old adage of, like, learn the rules before you break them. So you know, how to break them in intelligent ways. And I think that's something that I think a lot of aspiring filmmakers do. Try to rush past the basics that make people care about that clever twist that you have in mind, for the end of the film,
Alex Ferrari 13:28
I just want to eat the cake. I don't want to make it. Right. I don't want to know all the nuances about how to actually put the ingredients together. What, what fun is that? Exactly. Now, in general, do you struggle more with writing plot character structure? Or? or all three? Oh, combination? Because I have my I have my answers to that.
Michael Tucker 13:55
Yeah, I think, for me, it's, I think a lot of it is character. I mean, I definitely try to approach whatever I'm writing, you know, keeping in mind that all of those aspects need to be connected. But I think I'm, maybe just because I've spent so much time editing, I think I'm much better at taking pieces that are laid out on the table and putting them together in the proper way than I am generating new ideas from scratch. And so I think, for me, a lot of it is, you know, probably in the character realm of like, I know, I can figure out the structure and like these beats need to happen, and these character changes need to occur at this point, you know, for the optimal, you know, dramatic impact. But when it comes to figuring out the specifics of that character, that can be tricky for me, because that's when it kind of gets into a realm of like, well, there are tons of things that could satisfy, you know, the needs of the story. So how do I decide the right one and how do I make sure that like, this choice also meshes but This other character choice. And so I feel like that that can be a part where I spend a lot of time running around in my brain frustrated trying to figure out the best way.
Alex Ferrari 15:09
Are there any tips on how you can evoke emotion in a in a story in a screen or in a screenplay?
Michael Tucker 15:15
You know, I think one of my videos that I talked about was in Game of Thrones and sort of how they evoke emotion. And I think, from a structural point of view, I think they're very good about making sure every scene has that sort of transition of values that Mickey talks about where, you know, the beginning of the scene, everybody's happy, then of the scene, everybody sad, like making sure that there are significant, you know, value changes happening on a scene level and on a sequence level, on, you know, the greater story level. And I think that is definitely key. I think the films where I find myself kind of getting bored or not as engaged are the ones where seems like things are going fine for too long, and there aren't those big changes. And when I, you know, read, either like friends scripts, or sort of, you know, people, you know, aspiring writer scripts, that is something that I see a lot too is like, scenes and sequences that are there just to get from point A to point B, but they're not, they don't have those turns, they're not really telling the story. They're just moving the plot forward. And so I think that's kind of one of the disciplines you have to internalize is, you know, making sure a scene isn't there just to get the characters made to be but like, what is the lesson they're learning? How is each scene and sequence pushing them further on their character arc? And I think that's why writing is so hard because you have to do so many things at once.
Alex Ferrari 16:43
Exactly. It is there is a lot of plates, you're spinning, especially as you look at some of these complex films that have so many things going on. And some of these writers just do, it's so effortless, effortlessly. And you just like God damn it, and how the hell are they doing this? So I'm gonna geek out a little bit with you. Considering that the Avengers was just recently released. Did you see it yet? Yes, I did. We won't talk about it. No spoilers. But why? Why is Marvel getting it right and DC getting it so wrong? In your opinion, because I know you did a Marvel episode or an Avengers episode is specifically, what is it about? In your opinion that Marvel's done so wonderfully, right? Whether you like them or not, for whatever reasons they are successful, where DC seems to be floundering so badly?
Michael Tucker 17:38
Yeah, I think it was really interesting doing my Avengers video because I went and re watched almost all the Marvel films. And it was interesting seeing the progression that happened, like going back to the original Iron Man, which I loved when it came out. It also, it's weird watching it now because it feels kind of outside the kind of model that Marvel has arrived at, at the same time. And I think probably a lot of it is that DC is trying to do a lot of catch up. I think like they were trying to jump too far ahead. Especially I mean, I haven't seen Justice League like I've seen enough. It's just now you don't need to watch it.
Alex Ferrari 18:17
It is the most atrocious thing you've ever worked. It's so bad. I watched it just because I wanted to see the car crash. I wanted to see the car crash. And it was absolutely the car crash. And then some it was Oh, sorry. That's Yeah, there's a you know, the funny thing is, you can actually tell scenes that just went and wrote, like, I can go like, that's just waiting right there. Like, oh, there's that scene, it was like, that's way too fun and clever. for it not to be just waiting and right. And you could just tell the moments that Josh put in because they are those Marvel moments, not enough to save it by any stretch, because the structure was all often and the background of the characters and all that stuff. But you could tell the individual little scenes that they're just little gems, but there's not enough for the movie, but but you could tell them to save it not enough to save it. But you could so tell.
Michael Tucker 19:11
Yeah, how that's funny. Yeah, I mean, I think what's also interesting about DC is I think they were trying to kind of ride the wave of The Dark Knight, which was sort of this like,
Alex Ferrari 19:23
It's an anomaly.
Michael Tucker 19:24
Right. And I think what was great about it was that it was kind of a darker take on a superhero film. And it was very grounded in reality, and it was sort of like a post terrorism commentary about like, there was a lot of things happening, and that that was really good. But I feel like it was kind of the exception to the rule. And I feel like they tried to then kind of paint everything in that same color. And I think it just, it doesn't seem like I don't like a tone and a style that superhero films want to live in, or at least not bad. 100 I think Marvel is found or Right. But yeah, I feel like Marvel's pound, their tone and their voice really well. And, you know, having seen Infinity War and sort of the more recent films, I am really amazed that each film, you know, in some ways, it's, it can feel cookie cutter because you'd go in knowing what to expect, and you get exactly what you want, pretty much. But that's also really impressive. And I think they know their audience really well and have found their sort of formula that also lets different directors come in and play and do sort of their own take, like, you know, Thor had a lot of personality and guardians and all that stuff. So yeah, I feel like, I think the focus seems to be on, like, the characters and the humor and making sure people are having fun with the characters.
Alex Ferrari 20:52
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Michael Tucker 21:03
And I think that, especially in infinity war again, I'm not gonna spoil anything, but that was something that that stood out to me is like, they're making sure that we're having fun when we're watching these films. And I think not every film needs to be fun in the same way. Like, I remember watching Batman vs. Superman just being like, just wanting to tear my hair out. Like, why? Why, why? Why are you making me watch this? Yeah, like, there's clever I do. Like, even if the story and the elements are interesting, like having interesting stuff isn't enough. Like it has to be compelling. And people have to be emotionally involved and all.
Alex Ferrari 21:45
I think that I think there was so much I haven't quite figured out how to do that. I see. I think that DC had so much fear. I honestly believe it's fear of being left behind, which they already are. They're their company. Marvel's got a 10 year jump on them. So rather than try to compete, just the Roadblock, the roadmap has been laid out. They could have easily brought in Aqua man what they did wonder, john, wonderful job with Wonder Woman. I thought that was that's one of the highlights. Do you agree? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You know, and and, and they could have brought up women and they could have brought in the flash and did the same thing they did with Avengers. And then and then at the end, bring in Justice League. And then you know, then slowly bring in March and man Hunter, and because they have great characters, but they're just, I don't know what the hell they're thinking. But yeah, but we don't need we don't need a brooding Superman. Superman is not a brooding character.
Michael Tucker 22:38
Right, or like, like, don't have that being like his defining quality. Like maybe that's, you know, the dark part of like, one of the films is eating like the doubts things, but like you still asked to, I think that that was something that I really liked about Wonder Woman is I left feeling like I really knew what Wonder Woman stood for Yes, like, intellectually, and emotionally. I was like, oh, okay, she is a superhero that stands for this. And I get it, and I'm on board. And that's great. And I feel like I never got that from Batman or Superman or other DC characters.
Alex Ferrari 23:09
And then it just just jammed them all in there at the end anyway, we could go on for hours talking, etc. But there was another video you did that I found riveting, which was the Rogue One versus Force Awakens. With the two leads, and you're comparing the two, I know you're a Star Wars fan, because there's a lightsaber on your, on your icon. Which is quite nice. By the way, I need you to do one of those for me. And so I know you've you're a big fan of Star Wars, and I'm sure you've seen all of them. And now we're in the Golden Age, if you will of Star Wars film, because now they're just coming in every year, hopefully their quality will will continue moving forward. What was your Can you just talk to the audience a little bit about your take between Rogue One and force awakens and the two leads and how they differed? So, so much, but yet they kind of didn't it all the you know, depends on your point of view.
Michael Tucker 24:07
Sure, yeah. It's funny, because after I release a video, my brain immediately like forgets everything that I talked about. So it's gonna take me a minute to load it back up, but but I remember watching The Force Awakens and just kind of like falling in love with the re character, because I feel like it was just a very well rendered character. We understood her background, you understood kind of what she wanted. And it was just fun to see her be put in these situations, at least for like the first half of the film. And I remember watching Rogue One and just feeling like bored the whole time. And like, I didn't understand who Jen was like, you see the opening scene, you know, you see her backstory, and I feel like that was really good, but you don't really get to see who she is in the present. And that was sort of what that Video was about was like how to kind of define your protagonist and make them an active protagonist and how important that is. And I think that was the main thing that was missing for me in Rogue One was Jin doesn't really make any choices like write extensively. She's the protagonist of the film, but she's pretty much along for the ride, or she's given choices that aren't really choices. It's like, do this or you die? Like I guess. Yeah. And making choices. That's, that's how you define the protagonist. That's how you learn what they care about. And I feel like she just wasn't given many opportunities to do that. And so I feel like that's why she was not a compelling protagonist. For me, even though I like I love the actress. I feel like the performance was great. It's just there wasn't a whole lot of character development there for her or really, any of the other characters I thought
Alex Ferrari 25:57
Before so waken I feel like Unfortunately, she was more of an active protagonist.
Michael Tucker 26:03
Yeah, I think, you know, for especially for the first half of the film, you kind of see her day to day live, and you see her make choices like she's gonna save BB eight, and she's not gonna like sell him to the drunk trader. And like, those are like little things. And maybe they're kind of obvious things, but they're at least that helps you understand who they are and gives you information. So that later when they're forced with more difficult choices, you kind of know where they're coming from, and so you understand why that's a difficult choice, and it's more compelling that way.
Alex Ferrari 26:32
Now, what do you agree with? I mean, obviously, Force Awakens is similar in structure to New Hope. If I remember the video correctly, you gave a good explanation why you felt that they went down that road?
Michael Tucker 26:49
Um, yeah, it's funny. I can't remember that specific point. But that that's definitely something you know, people say a lot. And I think there it is, it is definitely similar to a new hope. I think that was intentional. I feel like a lot of those elements are kind of universal elements. But I feel like for as many similarities as there were, it didn't really bother me because I felt like there were a lot of new things that they were doing also like the introduction of defin character was a cool you know, new take on what a Star Wars characters like getting to know a stormtrooper? We spend a lot of time with Kylo Ren and you know, get to know him as a character for more than you do Darth Vader in the original and yeah, so I've I feel like there was the it did have kind of the same big beats and I'm an agreement that like, if there's another desktop at any point, I'm just gonna like, wait. I need to stop having Deaf stars.
Alex Ferrari 27:51
Or or in Marvel or any superhero movie, the villain be a cloud in the sky that's destroying the blue light beam. Yes, the blue light beam red sky. It's a suicide squad when I said like, You guys gotta be kidding me. Right? I remember thinking about it. I was like, Wait, really? Like? We've done that so many times now? Like, come on. Now. Now lastly, on the Star Wars on the Star Wars front. Last Jedi. What thoughts, thoughts, critiques comments.
Michael Tucker 28:25
I'm not going to dive into it too much, because I may or may not be working on a new video, but we'll go into that. More detail.
Alex Ferrari 28:32
Good. Awesome. That should do well, yeah.
Michael Tucker 28:36
Yeah, hopefully in I will probably end up angering one half of the internet. Yeah, one way or another or both.
Alex Ferrari 28:43
But that's the way with everything is it I mean, anything you put out your game to somebody off?
Michael Tucker 28:47
So but yeah, my sort of overview with the last Jedi i think is I really like the things that they went for. And then they attempted to do and I think I liked all of the re Kylo Ren Luke force storyline stuff. I thought that was an interesting addition to the Star Wars universe that wasn't just like, replaying, you know, the original trilogy over again. And I feel like the Finn rose poll storylines while intellectually interesting, and again, I like what they were going for. It was not very fun to watch. And I feel like it was not executed in a way that that that made the things that we're trying to accomplish resonate with me anyway. So I have sort of like a love hate relationship with a film where there are parts where I feel like it's has things that I think are really important to bring to the Star Wars saga. And in some ways, I think, does those things better than maybe any of the films and then there are other parts that are like prequel level like that. Those are those those are fighting words.
Alex Ferrari 29:55
Prequel levels. How dare you sir no joking.
Michael Tucker 29:58
Yes. Can't win and win with Star Wars.
Alex Ferrari 30:02
It's true. And but you know, I think that movie will age. Well, I think I think in five or 10 years, I think you'll age. Better than that. I think the prequels have gotten worse with age. Mm hmm. I mean, because I remember when I first saw Phantom Menace, I thought, Oh my God, this was awesome. When I first saw, but also I was starving for a Star Wars movie in there was the greatest character the Star Wars ever created at the time, but a double bladed lightsaber, what else do I mean? He's got horns Come on. And I recently watched it with my my six year old daughter and I, and I just was in shock. horribly bad. It was like the story structure, the characters, the dialogue. I was just like, Oh, my God did I like this. It's kind of like going back to the 80s. And watching a john Claude Van Damme movie. Because at the time, it was like the greatest thing ever, but now not so much.
Michael Tucker 30:57
Right? Well, I think it'll also be interesting. I think episode nine. And what they choose to do with episode nine will probably affect the perception of eight because I feel like they can either kind of double down and keep going hard in that same direction. Or they could try to walk it back and do another JJ Force Awakens. Kind of lighter fun take on the ending.
Alex Ferrari 31:18
I think JJ does Jays there.
Michael Tucker 31:20
So I think that might be where it goes. Yeah. And that's kind of kind of worried about that. So it'll be interesting to see what what happens.
Alex Ferrari 31:27
And when are we ever going to get an Old Republic trilogy? One an old rip? Right.
Michael Tucker 31:35
Well, I mean, maybe that's what Ryan Johnson's working on.
Alex Ferrari 31:37
He said he's not he said specifically, he's no, but we'll see. Okay, we'll see. So I'm sorry, guys. We just had I had to go down. I had to geek out about this, because, you know, I wanted to hear his thoughts. I'm sorry. So let me ask you, you've read a tremendous amount of screenwriting books, because I know you refer to many of them. Throughout your, your videos. What is your favorite screenwriting book? And which one would you if you had to buy one for if you're a screenwriter, you're gonna buy one? Which are they?
Michael Tucker 32:09
Which is actually really hard question? I mean, I think okay, three, my three books, three books. Okay, that makes so. So my answer is going to be the anatomy of story by john Truby, which is probably my most used book. But I think the reason I like that one so much is because I've read the others. And I think it kind of added a missing piece for me. And so I think story by Robert McKean, is sort of the counter part to that in my head of just like, these are the fundamentals there. And then, recently, I've been reading john York's book into the woods, a five act journey into structure or into story. And it kind of covers a lot of the the same things that sort of the older screenwriting books, you know, like the writers journey by Christopher Vogler, and like sort of all those things that it talks about, and then makes commentary on and sort of updates them in ways that I find interesting. So I think those are the three that have really resonated with me. And I feel like that's kind of my litmus test for screenwriting books, because I think that a lot of ways they're all talking about the same thing. Sure. And so I think it's about finding the one or two that click with you make you go, Oh, I get it like this. This resonates with me understand how to internalize this and actually apply it.
Alex Ferrari 33:35
Now, how has lessons from a screenplay helped you as a screenwriter? And as a filmmaker?
Michael Tucker 33:43
Yeah, I mean, I think it's, it's opened my eyes to all all the things that I was doing wrong. I think it I think the most valuable thing is it's made me appreciate those fundamentals. Sort of, like I was talking earlier, you know, film school mean, just wanted to, like, be creative. And like, I don't want to follow the rules, I want to do something interesting and like, not cookie cutter. And I think I've come to appreciate that story as we know it anyways, as our culture and our society is kind of based on a formula and it's there for a reason, like there is a psychological reason that we respond to things that are told in a certain way. And so I think I've come to appreciate that and value the importance of that and structure and character arcs and all those those fundamentals. And then that has also helped me appreciate even more stories that either you know, do their own twist on them and kind of turn our expectations on their head or films that follow them to a tee but do it in a way that still feels really fresh and engaging. Like I'm I'm as impressed by people like Do everything conventionally and have it still be, you know, an exciting film experience as I am people that can break the rules and create that same kind of effect.
Alex Ferrari 35:10
Very cool. Now, can you discuss a little bit about your Patreon? And what is Patreon in general?
Michael Tucker 35:19
Sure, it's a Patreon, I kind of described it as kind of like Kickstarter, it's people know Kickstarter, it's sort of like an ongoing Kickstarter. So you can go on Patreon and pledge a certain amount to a creator that you follow on like an ongoing basis. So my Patreon, you could go on and pledge, you know, $3 per video that I release. So it's sort of a way to help for you to help the creators you like make their creations sustainable. And so yeah, so my Patreon. They're sort of like Kickstarter. They're different tiers with different perks. And so there's the $1 tier where you get to know ahead of time what film I'm working on for next video. There's a $3 tier where I released like extra content, where I sort of talk about, you know, another thing I love about the film and just sort of like a short video that I make just for patrons, there's a $5 tier where you get early access, you get to see the videos before they go live. And then a $10 tier, which is really fun, where you can join like a Google Hangout, like we have a monthly Google Hangout where me and all the patrons like talk about movies that we've seen, like, discuss the latest video. And that's actually I was kind of nervous about putting that up. So I wasn't sure what what that experience would be like, but it's actually been a really great getting to know some of my patrons really well on talking about our favorite films and just having really cool discussion. So. So yeah, so those are the different rewards available on my Patreon.
Alex Ferrari 36:54
Very cool, and yeah, and like $2 doesn't sound a lot. But when you got 1000 or 2000 people, then all of a sudden,
Michael Tucker 37:01
Yeah, and what I love about it is that it really is freeing because my videos don't have to, like live or die by how many views they get on YouTube. So like, that helps resist the urge to do like click Beatty titles or like try to dumb down my content to reach a wider, wider audience. That's Patreon is really great at enabling creators to make the authentic content that they want to make.
Alex Ferrari 37:25
That's why you haven't done a Marvel vs. DC. One, right? Like, do we need another one of those? I actually accidentally did one of those. When I was interviewed, I was doing a consulting session with with a filmmaker and he asked me, I'm like, shit, alright, let's do this. And I laid in 1520 minutes. And then I popped it up on my YouTube channel just for fun. I swear to God, I got like, 20,000. And I'm like, Really? Really, there's so many other good things on this channel,this little one,
Michael Tucker 37:59
Right! It is so far. And it is frustrating, because that's sort of how my Star Wars video was also that way. And it's kind of the one negative video that I've done, where I'm kind of like criticizing the film's Sure. And it's kind of unfortunate that I think, like criticism creates more like stirs people up more, so they share it more and like, debate about it more. And that helps the algorithm and stuff and it's a try not to like feed into that side of the index. I feel like there's too much of that. So try to be constructed with my, my videos are actually true.
Alex Ferrari 38:30
You are actually you're fairly because I think you're right, the Star Wars is the only one that you were actually kind of like doubting of something that you recovering generally you're you're uplifting, and saying what they've did, right as opposed to what they did wrong.
Michael Tucker 38:42
Yeah, cool. Yeah, I hope that's my goal with each one.
Alex Ferrari 38:46
Alright, so I'm gonna I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today? get really good. You are safe, you are safe.
Michael Tucker 39:04
I'm a genie is clear. But But I think that has in my kind of somewhat limited experience, you know, interacting with the industry, I think there is something to just being like, undeniably good at what you do. And I think a lot of people trying to break into the film business. Yeah, I kind of jump several steps ahead of like, I need an agent. And I need to do this and kind of like this one screenplay have, it's going to sell and I'm going to make it not miss stuff. And I think it's much more helpful to practice a lot, write a lot, make a bunch of stuff so that you build up your skill set. So when you do have that opportunity, you're able to really capitalize it, capitalize on it, or in the meantime, make your own opportunities because you know how to create good stuff. So I think that's sort of my, in my experience, what's helped me is like, Rather than getting like tunnel visioned on this one thing, put that thing aside, work on another thing, create another thing, put it out there work with people. And I think the more you keep yourself going, that attracts other people that want to keep going. And eventually you build something that breaks through to the next level.
Alex Ferrari 40:17
Very cool. Now, what is the book? Tell me the book that that had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Michael Tucker 40:26
I think I think it is john troubies. The Anatomy of story. Yeah. Because I think that was the screenwriting book that like I said, it really like clicked for me and all the sort of Robert McKee like arts and crafts and like that intellectual side of things, I think the key explain it in a way that felt very organic and actionable, and just really resonated with me and kind of finally opened that door for me to enter and appreciate those sort of fundamentals of storytelling.
Alex Ferrari 40:56
Now, what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Michael Tucker 41:02
Oh, hmm. I think the creative self discipline, I think, is hard. And I sort of mentioned that before, but yeah, knowing, like, knowing the difference between you're just excited about an idea versus like, is that idea. Good. And like, I think, in the past, I've had ideas, you know, like me, 10 years ago, if I'd had the idea for lessons from the screenplay, I probably would have just written a video and made it and uploaded my first version and just sort of dominant and gotten to the fun part. And I think what I learned over my time, and Elaine working all these other projects and stuff was that it's good to put in the the work needed before you get to that fun part like that discipline is the thing that will let you succeed and get to that the part that you enjoy. And so I think that for less than one screenplay, like I said, was a lot of research and practice and doing lots of drafts. And, you know, not taking good enough as the final version and really pushing myself to do that extra work. And I think that is what helps the channel become, you know, as successful as I'm lucky enough that it has been putting in that extra work that I may have skipped when I was younger.
Alex Ferrari 42:33
Yeah. Age, there is something to age isn't there? There is. I mean, there's just fading, but it's true. It's frustrating, and they're things that are not so good with age. But, but yes, I agree with you. 110%. Now, this is the probably the toughest question. you'll, you'll be asked today named the three favorite films of all time. Oh, boy. Okay. Star Wars, obviously. Oh, I hate this question. It's so hard. It won't be on your tombstone. Just three that the tickle your fancy today.
Michael Tucker 43:08
Okay. Star Wars. Alien. And oh, man, I had seven.
Alex Ferrari 43:14
Oh, God. Yeah, we can hang out. Seven is one of my favorite one. Seven is one of my favorite films of all times on my top five is that in Fight Club, because I just love Love, love seven. And funny. Funny. I'll tell you real quick, funny story. When I saw seven was in college, it was 95. I was in college. And when I walked out, I there was a garbage can right by the exit of the theater. And I saw film in it. And I said, What the hell is that? And I pull out the film. And it was a trailer to seven. And I literally just grabbed another bag, tossed it in the back and I just ran out the door. And it's still on my it's still on my shelf that they have a 35 millimeter print I have never played but I have a 35 and you know what? I cleaned it because it was like soda on it. And other stuff on it. I put it into the top clip. It's so good. And it still It looks great. I hold it up and everything. I still own the one of my prized possessions.
Michael Tucker 44:19
Yeah, no, that's amazing. That's like a priceless piece of like memorabilia, and that's awesome. Now, um, where can people find you? So they can find me on YouTube. The channel is lessons from the screenplay, and then on Twitter and Instagram, my handles at Michael Tucker LA. Yeah, those those are the places
Alex Ferrari 44:40
Michael man It has been a pleasure and an honor speaking to you, sir. Man. Please continue doing the good work that you're doing and helping screenwriters and filmmakers out there with those awesome videos, man. Thanks again.
Michael Tucker 44:50
Awesome. Thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 44:53
I hope you enjoyed that episode with Michael Thank you so much, Michael for coming on the show and dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe. And if you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode, just head over to indie film hustle.com or you can go to indiefilmhustle.com/bps022 for all the listeners over on the bulletproof screenplay podcast. So I hope you guys enjoyed this crossover event. I do these every few months or so every maybe one month and a half, six weeks or so I try to grab an episode that I think will talk to both audiences, both for any film hustle podcast and the bulletproof screenplay podcast. So I hope you guys are enjoying this. And I have a bunch more stuff coming. I just can't wait to tell you so much stuff. So many things happening. I can't I I'm like I'm about to burst seriously. But guys, I really appreciate all the support. And if you haven't gone already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave a good review for the show. And if you're listening to bulletproof screenplay, please head over to screenwriting podcast calm and leave a good review for that show. We are brand new with bulletproof screenplay. So every review really helps us out a lot in the rankings. So thank you again, so much for listening, guys. And as always, keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
- Lessons from the Screenplay – YouTube
- Lessons from the Screenplay – Official Site
- Lessons from the Screenplay – Twitter
- Lessons from the Screenplay – Facebook
- Lessons from the Screenplay – Patreon