Young & Hungry - Jason Scott Goldberg

By Jason Scott Goldberg • October 20, 2021

Jason is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America with over 100 hours of original programming to his name. His most recent credits include E!’s hit series Botched and Disney’s reboot of Bug Juice. Horror is his genre of choice and he has 7 completed feature screenplays and 2 television series that have placed in top writing competitions, including Script Pipeline, ScreenCraft’s Horror Contest, Final Draft Big Break, and International Screenwriters Association’s Fast Track Fellowship.

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

I’m not as young as I used to be, but I’ll say that I still have the same tenacity and passion to write that I had when I first moved to Los Angeles. I’ve always worked in unscripted television, but even after a 10-12 hour day, I would come home and write until 3 am, and repeat. I managed to build up a library of material and submitted to a number of competitions, and would always make my presence known in the room. I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I am, but I am also one of the most gracious people. I wouldn’t have this success if it wasn’t for my family and friends.

Describe your unique personal and professional background and the specific project(s) that attracted industry interest?

I am an unscripted story producer, which means I comb through hours of footage to find a story. Similarly, I am a horror junkie. I watch it all, and so I have a good idea about which films are effective. I am lucky enough to also have four projects on the ballot for this year’s Hit List – three of them are on the Young & Hungry List. 700 Feet, Flatwoods, and The Caregiver are very different projects, with extremely different characters.

They aren’t your typical teens being ripped apart. Whether it’s a middle-aged woman trying to survive 700 feet in the air, while attached to a parasail, connected to a runaway speedboat or a middle-aged gay man falling in love with his hospice patient that is transforming into a giant insect, the themes are inherent; everyone wants to feel loved, and survive, I just write protagonists that aren’t usually leads in the genre.

What personal qualities do screenwriters need to make it?

You need to understand your brand (I only write horror), be comfortable networking and make your own deadlines. I certainly don’t feel like “I’ve made it,” but I try to maintain a professional attitude to my work and getting the pages down.

Why did you decide to become a screenwriter above all other careers?

I was raised on The Twilight Zone and just loved reading. Going to the movies was always a treat for me, and it still. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer or dentist, but my heart was in creating, and so I did my homework and kept honing my craft.

How do you become agent/manager bait? 

I recently signed with my manager at Dedicated Talent Management. They were actually referred to me by a friend that is a horror director/writer and we just meshed. They saw my passion and liked what I had to offer. Conan O’Brien said it best: “… if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” I truly believe it. If you’re easy to work with and get the job done, the right people will find you.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

I have a long list of log lines that I have been developing and I keep adding to that list. I’ve had nightmares and I’ve woken up and jotted the idea down. Once I “finish” a project and attack notes, it’s off to the next screenplay.

How do you decide which ideas are worthy of pursuing?

I ask myself, “which of these stories are you willing to spend the next 3+ months on?” If you aren’t willing to fall in love with your own characters and plot lines it comes across on the page. Recently, I’ve started pitching log lines and I can usually sense when the listener is just as excited as me, and then it’s a go!

Do you have a writing brand in terms of interests you gravitate towards?

Anything that goes bump in the night or is simply unsettling.

How do characterize the current state of the industry and opportunities for emerging writers?

With so many ways to view content and reach out to prospective producers/managers/agents, now’s the time to do your homework and push your writing. Get IMDBPro and befriend agent’s assistants, they will be the next gatekeepers. It’s a beautiful time to be a creative.

How do you train and improve your writing craft?

I read books and screenplays CONSTANTLY, but the only way to improve is to keep writing. Your first script may not be the best, but you may have an incredible idea within the pages. There are plenty of books that will teach structure, but find your voice and make sure it comes across on the pages!

What are the qualities of scripts you read that don’t get industry interest?

I’ve read some great ones and some pretty awful ones. Sometimes a writer pens something incredible with no budget in mind, and sure it’s a great script, but nobody wants to take that risk on a new writer. A script like that will get attention due to the storytelling, but it will be hard to get produced.

On the other side, I’ve read “final drafts” that haven’t gone through spell and grammar check. I like to think that if someone is willing to dedicate 90 minutes of their time to my craft, it better be as good as possible when it comes to the fundamentals – spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Lazy writing is just a turn-off, especially when you can hit a button and the computer does the work for you.

What advice do you have for screenwriters wanting to make next year’s Young & Hungry list?

Keep it up! Write! Write! Write! Also network as much as you can. Join a writers group or work with groups like Roadmap Writers and the International Screenwriters Association. If you hang out with writers you’re going to talk story and inspire each other.

What is something that few people know about you?

My second favorite genre to watch is kids movies.

Jason Scott Goldberg