Articles & Advice

Jack Waz – Young & Hungry

Jack Waz is a graduate of Emerson College, Jack has worked on shows like Marvel’s New Warriors, USA’S Satisfaction, and is currently the Writers’ Assistant on Epix’s Get Shorty. His script The Biscuit made the 2018 Black List. 

How young and how hungry do you need to be to win a place on the 2018 Young & Hungry list?

It absolutely helps to be highly motivated in order to land a spot on the list.
 
Describe your unique personal and professional background and the specific project that attracted industry interest?
 
I grew up in a politically-oriented family, which has lead to a lifetime of interest in politics. The projects I’ve written that have drawn industry interest have all had a political bent to them – first getting noticed via a pilot about the Lebanese Civil War and landing on the Young & Hungry list with a feature about a lesser-known political scandal. 
 
What personal qualities do screenwriters need to make it?

This might sound counterintuitive for what seems like a solitary profession, but the ability to work well with others/work as a team is key. I’ve spent my entire career so far working in television, and personality fits are just as important as creative talent. Being able to collaborate and, more importantly, take criticism well from others always leads to better work.
 
Why did you decide to become a screenwriter above all other careers?
 
I’ve known I wanted to work in entertainment since I was a kid, and had my first opportunity to work in TV when I was 16. Ever since then, I’ve known there’s no other career I’d ever want to have. Entertainment and culture are America’s greatest export, and the opportunity to have your work appreciated world-wide is exhilarating. 
 
How do you become agent/manager bait? Someone a manager wants to work with?
 
Two things: have a great sample, and a personality to match. Your manager and agent are your partners in your career, and you need to treat them as such. Finding people who believe in you and are willing to put up with years of investment before payoff is key. Be honest, open, direct in what you want.
 
Where do you get your creative inspiration?
 
I started my career working in reality TV, which taught me the value of research and constantly searching for new stories. It lead to a habit of constant reading of news stories, magazine pieces, and new books. Also, never discount a nice long walk – clearing your mind for an hour while out in nature can lead to amazing new ideas popping into your brain.
 
How do you decide which ideas are worthy of pursuing?
 
Any ideas I want to develop are run by my manager, my fiancée, and a small group of similarly-minded friends. I trust them all completely, and if they don’t respond well to something, I know it’s not worth pursuing. 
 
Do you have a writing brand in terms of interests you gravitate towards?

I tend to gravitate towards political stories and action comedies. 
 
How do characterize the current state of the industry and opportunities for emerging screenwriters?
 
There’s never been more opportunity for writers, but paradoxically it’s never been more difficult to break in. The process has been democratized, as anyone with the talent and a copy of Final Draft can create their breakout script. Anyone can break in, but everyone is trying to.
 
How do you train and improve your writing craft?
 
The best advice I got in film school was to know a little about a lot. You never know where your next idea will come from, so expose yourself to as much media and culture as possible. Read everything (feature scripts, pilots, news, magazines, books).
 
What are the qualities of scripts you read that don’t get industry interest?
 
Most of the scripts I read that DON’T get attention are too jokey or convoluted. Scripts can be complex, but require a strong through-line that’s easy to keep track of.
 
What advice do you have for screenwriters wanting to make next year’s Young & Hungry list?
 
Write with passion about something you care about. You can feel dedication and hard work on the page, and that pays off.
 
What is something that few people know about you?
 
I accidentally ruined Christmas for Courteney Cox’s daughter when I was a PA on Cougar Town.

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