In Art Of Coaching Podcast

When done well storytelling can access a primal level of human psychology. 

With complex characters, varied settings, unique conflicts and resolution, storytelling is “manipulation for good” teaching us lessons, growth and a better way to live.

Coaching is in many ways, storytelling. 

Today on the show I’m joined by someone who studies storytelling professionally. Michael Tucker (filmmaker and writer), is the creator of the film analysis YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay, host of the podcast Beyond the Screenplay, and creator of a new video series examining storytelling in video games called “Story Mode.” 

Michael is incredibly skilled at making complex concepts immediately accessible. When analyzed at a deeper level, he shows us that quality storytelling is nothing more than truth; it helps us understand themes, relate to struggle and move to change. 

On today’s show we discuss:

  • The overlap between coaching and screenplay 
  • Lessons from The Dark Knight, Inside Out, Arrival and Collateral 
  • What to do when it’s raining on set – why creativity requires constraints 
  • Discovering your inner demon or “ghost”
  • Staying true to the craft while developing a brand

Connect with Michael:

Via YouTube:

Via Podcast: Beyond the Screenplay

Via Twitter: @michaeltuckerla

Michael’s communication is understated, but his impact and following are not. If you’re interested in understanding how he’s managed to grow his brand without “selling out”, join me for a free online workshop. Details below! 

Clarity Workshop

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 at 11 AM EST

What we’re talking about:

  • Speak to your brand without coming off as “salesy”
  • Define your niche and your competitive advantage
  • Engage with your intended audience
  • Grow visibility and impact without relying on social media



Michael Tucker  0:02  

You would never usually need to carry 400 pounds on your back in normal everyday life, but trying that makes you stronger gives you experience of what it’s like to have to deal with a problem like that. And I think we are very willing, for some reason to take those risks in certain contexts, but especially in these interpersonal contexts, it’s scarier and you feel more vulnerable. But I feel like that’s why those are the places that you should be taking those risks.


Brett Bartholomew  0:46  

Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me and now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Legendary screenwriter Robert McKee once said, The Art of story is the dominant cultural force in the world, he could not have been more correct. And whether you’re a coach, a writer, a manager or a filmmaker, chances are that at some point, you were taught a lesson and one that stuck with you through the medium of storytelling. Quality storytelling is without a doubt transformative. It has a way of sticking to our ribs and reminding us of who we are and what we value. It’s the bedrock of connecting with others. And also, as I’ve found personally, it helps us understand how to overcome our own problems. And today, I’m interviewing a master storyteller in his own right, Michael Tucker. Michael is a filmmaker and a writer living in Los Angeles. He’s the creator of the film analysis YouTube channel Lessons from the Screenplay, which reaches over 1.3 million people. He’s also the host of the podcast beyond the screenplay, and the creator of a new video series examining storytelling in video games called Story Mode. He is a self proclaimed diehard David Fincher fan, and thinks that purple is the best lightsaber color. But here’s the thing, guys, as he soon came to find out, he’s also been one of the most inspiring forces in my life over the last year and a half. And I mean that candidly, this is because his work has helped me realize that nearly every problem I faced as a person as a coach, as a business owner was a story in and of itself, all with their own plots, character arcs, ways of looking at problems and being able to find creative resolutions. And this what you’re about to hear is a recording of our actual first time meeting one another, I reached out to him just a cold reach out and told him what his work has meant to me. And similarly, he was very surprised to learn how I viewed storytelling to be very much related to coaching, and the constraints that we help others overcome in their own journeys. So sit back and enjoy this episode of seeing two seemingly disparate worlds collide into what has easily been one of my favorite conversations to date. And by the way, if you find yourself inspired by Michael’s journey in any way, specifically, at how he’s crafted a unique niche for himself, that’s allowed him to create a values driven business that impacts a ton of people, all by doing what he loves most. Be sure to go to that’s to learn more about a new resource we have coming out this Wednesday, that can help you do the same. Trust me you do not want to miss it. Alright, folks, Michael Tucker.


Michael Tucker, thanks so much for joining us.


Michael Tucker  4:25  

Thank you so much for having me.


Brett Bartholomew  4:26  

Ya know, I like giving the audience a behind the scenes understanding of context. And, guys, if you’re listening in this is the first time Michael and I’ve ever spoken, and I’ll be straightforward. been a fan of this guy for a long time and everything he does with his organization Lessons from the Screenplay, and I just cold reached out to him. I believe it was on Twitter, wasn’t it, Michael? 


Michael Tucker  4:47  

Yeah, yeah. 


Brett Bartholomew  4:48  

Yeah. And, you know, there’s always preconceived notions we have in human interaction. And so I always wonder, right, how do we approach this because if Michael looks at my profile, he may See, all right, well, this guy looks like a coach. I’m into filmmaking and Senate, you know, what is this really gonna be like? And, you know, there’s plenty of people that just don’t respond, or they don’t even give it a chance you were very warm and welcoming. So I just want to share my appreciation of you trusting a stranger and jumping onto his show that could seem out of context for you.


Michael Tucker  5:19  

Oh, well, yeah, thank you, of course. And I feel like it helps that, you know, I do get approached by some people. And they’re, you can pretty quickly, I think, parse out, well, this person’s maybe a little crazy, or this person is just has this kind of weird notion of what they want. But you were very professional and generous in the way you reached out and talked about everything. So I felt immediately like, Oh, this is a person that is worth talking to?


Brett Bartholomew  5:42  

Well, I appreciate it. And guys, for more context, one thing Michael and I were talking about prior to jumping in and we’re going to focus on is, you know, what drew me to Michael’s work is how he approaches focused and effective storytelling. And so you guys are gonna hear me plug it again and again, and again. But if you haven’t checked out his YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay, you need to but what I told Michael is, Listen, I’m in the realm of coaching. And in coaching, there are many different characters, there are many different conflicts. And there are many similar story arcs. We’re all trying to take somebody from one point, navigating a variety of obstacles to get them to another point what they want, or what they need to achieve. So it was organic. You know, I have to ask, though, Michael, when you think of what you do, and what you examine, prior to speaking with me, even just shortly before the episode, would you have ever contextualized coaching in a similar manner? And that way?


Michael Tucker  6:34  

I probably that probably wouldn’t have been my first thought, No, I do appreciate that. You know, what I love about storytelling, when it’s done well is that it is accessing human psychology and just the way that we perceive the world and interact with the world and the way we live, we kind of think of ourselves as the protagonist in stories a lot of the time. And so the idea behind storytelling does pop up everywhere, because it is just how humans see the world and, you know, cycles of growth and death and renewal, and all that stuff is everywhere. And that’s why good storytelling is powerful. So it would not have been my first thought, but when to explain it. I was like, Oh, that makes complete sense. Of course. Yeah.


Brett Bartholomew  7:19  

And it’s something that I want to guys, if you’re listening, I want to inculcate really early, you know, there’s a lot of times within coaching circles or leadership in general, where we think books are where we need to go, we’re and books are great. We don’t need to sit here and talk about why everybody should read books. But we often issue film, and you’ll hear people say, Well, I don’t own a TV or your bookshelf should be twice as big as your TV. And I don’t go to the movies. And this was something, Michael, that I heard a lot. When I started off in coaching. I mean, it was almost this fervor of you need to read a book a week. And if you’re watching TV, it’s wasting time. And everything you do, I mean, just an unintentionally, of course, spits in the face of that because of the depth that you dive into film and you show that hey, you know, people don’t just see us as in pop up, right. These are screenplays there’s a lot of nuance that goes into it. What What made you dive into this world of screenplays and dissection and understanding psychology is storytelling to many degrees, if you don’t mind sharing that with us?


Michael Tucker  8:20  

Sure, yeah. I mean, I’ve loved movies since I was a kid, just because they were fun. And you know, I loved Star Wars, I loved Indiana Jones, you know, all the things that get kids excited about it. And as a kid, I wanted to like do visual effects and blow up spaceships and all that stuff. And as I got older, I started to, you know, watching the behind the scenes that come with DVDs and hearing more about the filmmaking process, I started to appreciate the role of the storyteller. And the reason that people get excited during these action scenes is because there’s this emotional connection, or it’s affecting them in this psychological way. And so as I got older, I just found that side of things much more interesting and intriguing. The idea that, you know, film kind of all storytelling is essentially manipulation, but manipulation for good, ideally, and, you know, to help people grow and to teach lessons and themes. And so I think, as I spent more time investigating that I just was really excited to be able to have that power to make other people happy or teach them like a better way to live or impart lessons that I had learned in life. And so there was kind of as far as like, my personal journey with filmmaking, especially when I was in college, I was very focused on the directing side of things and you know, it’s easy to get excited about the technical aspects of filmmaking and I want this new camera and you know, this shoots in HD and with this lens, I’ll be able to do this shot And it’s easy, I think, especially when you’re younger to get excited about the toys aspect of film. And so a lot of my focus when younger was on that. And then after moving to LA and kind of trying to make it in the industry, I would, you know, the work that I made was technically impressive. And they would get me into the room. And then people would kind of say, cool. So what’s your story? Where’s your screenplay? And then they’d read it and be like, well, the writing isn’t up to par with the directing the technical aspects of stuff. And so after kind of running into that wall over and over again, I realized, Oh, this is a weakness that I have is the fundamentals of storytelling. That was the stuff that I wasn’t paying attention to, in college when I was learning about filmmaking. So why don’t I put aside the things that I already feel pretty good at and tackle this weakness, this lack that I have, and just go hard on it, and try to see if I can up that, part of it. And that’s kind of where lessons from screenplay came from. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:04  

Now, there’s a deep appreciation for that too, as you and I continue to get to know one another. And this is why we do the show as a conversation, not just like a question, question. Question is, you see that very much in the core field that I started out with and strength and conditioning? There’s a fascination with the training aspects of it, right? Like if it’s not the exercises, now, it’s the sport science, What data can we get to show how fast an athlete’s running and now they’re jumping in what happened, what what we saw as so many people gravitating away from exploring the coaching, you know, and if they did talk about the coaching side of it, it was a very transformational rah, rah, you know, probably like a really bad 80s hero movie, you know. And so what you had is these coaches who hadn’t really explored their own identity, or just felt like, well, you know, and I’m sure this is in filmmaking as well, but feel free to correct me. We see certain coaches that, you know, they kind of mimic other coaches, which, you know, that’s part of the journey, I get it, you’re gonna take inspiration, right, or they tend to coach how they were coached. But there’s this whole other world. And it sounds like we’re you’ve evolved, we’re, you know, some coaches still struggle is there still a fascination in coaching with the technical side, because people feel relatively comfortable hiding there, where let’s think about interpersonal skills or psychology. If somebody says, you’re, you’re, well, you need to improve on your communication or your coaching, it’s easy to take that personally. If I remember correctly, you said in a previous interview that your dad used to edit movies, as well, and but your mom wanted you to be a doctor. So in terms of nature, nurture, where did that? How did you navigate that conflict?


Michael Tucker  12:44  

Yeah, luckily, both of my parents were very supportive of everything. My mom, you know, definitely hoped I would go that route, because that’s, you know, she was a nurse and had wanted to be a doctor. But when she was growing up, that was harder for women to get into. So I think, you know, there’s, there’s probably just everyone kind of hopes that their child will be interested in things that they are and be able to share that. But yeah, it was pretty clear early on that the movie side of things was, where my interests lay. But it and then part of that, I think my dad was also really fascinated by the toys and the cameras and stuff. And, I think like you’re saying it’s 100% true in filmmaking, and I think as a creative person, it’s kind of like a, we have these labels, where it’s like, creatives are this kind of person, they make art. But I feel like, as you’re saying, all these things overlap. But it is a lot easier to deal with these kinds of technical toy things and like data and stats like you’re talking about, like that’s, it’s easier to interact with it because it’s an external objective thing that can be measured and compared and stuff. But the deeper work that’s required is scary and as hard if you want to be a really good storyteller, or it sounds like a really good coach, and like you’re saying these interpersonal skills, it requires acknowledging your like, personal, like flaws or weaknesses or fears or just letting yourself be vulnerable. And that’s hard and scary. And also there, it’s so there’s a lot less resources out there for people that you know, if you say and this is kind of, again, why I wanted to create Lessons from the Screenplay, because when I realized, okay, my writing isn’t good enough. How do I get better? Like I’m I’m willing to admit that I have this weakness, but how do I improve? There aren’t a lot of resources out there built around helping people get better at those things? Because it is this kind of, it’s a harder mountain to climb in some ways. And so I think That’s, I think that is starting to change. And that’s kind of what I was hoping to do with Lessons from the Screenplay is like make the story fundamentals that can be off putting more accessible to people. And it sounds like that’s what you’re doing with art of coaching also is making, giving people a resource where it’s like, it’s okay to come and talk about these things and learn and get better at all of this


Brett Bartholomew  15:23  

100%. Right, and focusing on you for a moment, and then bridging back into that, because there’s some common themes there. And there’s gonna be kind of a brief question, but I wanted to bridge into something else. Now I know from a creativity standpoint, I just had my  first child, so right now it’s he’s an only child, you’re an only child, right? You said once that you feel like that helps you foster some sense of creativity.


Michael Tucker  15:47  

Yeah, I have a half brother. But basically, I was raised as an only child, essentially. But I think I kind of thrived in that environment, I think, let me rely on imagination a lot. And so I had a very active imagination as a child and enjoyed playing and creating stories and, you know, taking my dad’s video camera and taking my toys and making little movies that was basically just me recreating, you know, Toy Story or jurassic park with my toys. But yeah, I personally felt had kind of no problem just being on my own, and creating stories out of thin air, just with my imagination,


Brett Bartholomew  16:30  

ya know, and I think that is particularly fascinating, because, you know, you’ve mentioned a couple times, well, there are certain aspects of your craft that came easy and others that you had to learn to develop, you know, beyond the technical side, I mean, you, I want to give the audience an understanding, you know, at the time of this recording, lesson from the screenplay, you manage 1.3 million subscribers, right? And then you have a team that I believe you said, you have five people on your team, or six, 


Michael Tucker  16:58  

six, including me, 


Brett Bartholomew  17:00  

And then you have a podcast, and you have many other outputs, and many other things you do. From that standpoint, you know, I wonder how much have you even continued to expand beyond only the technical skills of your craft, but examining the other storytelling skills, but now the leadership skills within your organization and also how you communicate what you guys are doing with Lessons from the Screenplay and story mode? You know, that’s another level laps. So how have you continue to find both challenge? Maybe a little bit of fear and excitement in that at the same time?


Michael Tucker  17:33  

Yeah, I mean, so the choice to move from continuing to do lessons from a screenplay is basically an entirely a solo job. There was like, there’s one person that Vince major who’s kind of like, my producer, like, helps me run things and kind of just keeps me sane. And he’s been there since the beginning. But otherwise, Lessons from the Screenplay, the first two years was just me making all the videos. And so the decision to bring in a team was very scary, because I think as a, as a creator, and as someone with my personality type, like, I tend to be perfectionistic, I tend to like to have control over everything. And in bringing in a team that’s necessarily letting go of control, which is scary. But it’s also really rewarding. And I think one of the things I like about filmmaking is when you’re making a movie, it’s a highly collaborative process. You know, the writing sometimes is a solo venture. But when you’re on set, you’re working with actors or working with DPS, you’re working with the crew, and that continues into the post production, right? There’s editors and the sound mixers and the composer. And that’s all really fun. And I enjoy being a director and kind of being the leader in that role. And so I kind of expected to be for some of those skills to translate into like management of like a team and this other format of creating YouTube videos. And what I found is that it’s very different than directing a movie. And so I was kind of unexpectedly found myself very challenged with trying to manage a team and all these things that you brought up with coaching of like this, the interpersonal relationships and wanting to make sure that everyone gets a chance to play and put their best self forward but you also have to weigh personalities and relationships against the quality of the work that’s being produced and How much control do you try to maintain and if you’re holding on too tightly, is that not giving people a chance to learn and do their best work? But if they don’t make it then is that like hurting your brand? So there’s just a lot of things to juggle that I wasn’t Super prepared for. And so it’s been a definitely a challenge and a very good learning experience. And it’s what I think the one thing that I did do was pick people that are all awesome good people. So even when we’ve had our challenges, they’ve been very supportive and down and very helpful. So 100% credit to them for being awesome. But it was interesting to go into something thinking that I had a good set of leadership skills, because of, you know, I know how to run a set on when making a film. But managing people and more of a company structure was completely different and definitely a new kind of challenge.


Brett Bartholomew  20:42  

Yeah, it’s to that point, I think he made it well, you know, very well as we tend to assume if we’re good at certain things, or even similar things that it just transcends, and in some cases that that is true, right. Like, we know that even whether it’s some of the best films or books or what have you, they pull inspiration from a wide variety of ideas. And, and the more varied that individuals perspective, generally, the better they’re able to tie together common themes, even the ones that don’t seem relevant at one point. Like, it is tricky, though, right? managing people. And like you said, there’s some times where, you know, you hear in leadership and life in general, we have to be empathetic, and we have to give people a chance, but you had mentioned, sometimes you still have to be mindful is what I’m is what’s going to happen from somebody else with the work they produce gonna hurt my brand, you know, and you think about this. And in sport, you know, there’s nothing compassionate if a pitcher is getting shelled, and the ninth inning of leaving him in there, because he thinks he can do it. There’s a point where it’s compassionate to be like, yo, it’s not your night, or this isn’t a fit. And you got to know when to do that as any kind of leader whatsoever, has your perfectionistic yet? Well, you didn’t use it. Would you describe yourself as a of course, its contextual, introvert or extrovert, but for the most part, where would you feel like you lie?


Michael Tucker  22:01  

Definitely more toward the introverted side, like I do completely fine went on my own for the most part.


Brett Bartholomew  22:09  

Okay. So hypothetically, let’s say I was on your team. And I, you know, and I have a background in a similar space, right, of course, so let’s imagine that, and I’ve just done a crap job with something. And you know, you, you know, that I’m a value driven person, you know, me as a person, but I’ve done a crap job. What’s the first thought that goes through your head when you’re like, Alright, I have got to find a way to address this head on this is borderline scary and could tank the brand. What goes through your head? Right, then? Let’s do a little improv on that note.


Michael Tucker  22:41  

Yeah, I’m suddenly paralyzed with stress. Well, I mean, so I think what’s I think one of the things about my personality, that is a strength that can also be a weakness is that I think I do have a lot of empathy and can step into other people’s shoes. So I can, I feel like I immediately understand the objective situation and what needs to be done. But I’m also then immediately considering, you know, what, how are you going to feel about it? And what is best for you and our relationship? And is there a way to, I feel like I immediately start trying to balance and juggle those things of like, the end product needs to be good that we can’t sacrifice that. But what’s the best way to navigate this, so that there’s the best opportunity for us to have a relationship moving forward, and for the next project to be even better? And so I think that’s, and sometimes that’s kind of impossible to reconcile, and that’s where it can, I can end up kind of frozen and hard to know what to do. But I feel like that tends to be how I look at those situations is zooming out. What are the objective goals? But also, what are the interpersonal things? And like long term, like not just fixing the situation? But if I go too hard on trying to fix this one situation, is that going to have negative repercussions down the line? 


Brett Bartholomew  24:07  

Sure, it is funny doesn’t sound all that dissimilar from your breakdown of a rival, right? Where we look at various forms of conflict in certain ways. And we tend to make moments into monsters and you can think about what’s the person? What’s the situation? What’s my interpretation of this thing? Where’s the threat? Is everything? Am I actually seeing what I think I’m saying, but I remember that you helped me get over a creative hump, whether you know it or not. With your breakdown of that film, I was looking at something in particular that was going on with our organization as we were trying to grow. And I remember just the way you broke that down immediately, something popped into my head and I’m like, okay, like, I’ve got to change. I’ve got to change this and make sure people understand that this is a non zero sum game, right? Because sometimes we will have this interpretation, that that’s what that is, and that film breakdown in particular was especially impactful for me for that reason, because that was a big part of that film, right? Like it’s a non zero sum game, but we tend to look at everything a little bit different than that.


Michael Tucker  25:10  

Yeah, that’s awesome to hear. Yeah. And that’s one of the things I love about that movie is that, you know, it’s a movie where aliens land, and then basically do nothing. And the humans just out of their fear of what could happen, cause all these problems and almost end up like starting a nuclear war, basically. And I just think that the themes there are so powerful, and really resonate with me of, you know, when we react emotionally, and don’t take the time to kind of step back and not give in to impulses. It can, we can often take behaviors, that’s actually, like, bad for us. And so I think that’s something that I tried to keep in mind and life in general, and I think is what is trying to, humble about that. I think that’s, I think it’s one of the things that is good about Lessons from the Screenplay, and how I approach analysis of film is like, you know, there’s the emotional reaction that you can have when you’re watching something. And it’s cool to talk about the emotions and how it made you feel, and whether you like this, or whether you don’t like, that’s all fine. But what I try to do is say, Okay, this is how I feel. And then let’s take a step back, like, let’s put that aside, take a step back and say, Okay, what is it in here that’s making me feel that way. And in film, that’s useful, because it’s just it’s, you know, revealing the parts and the structure of storytelling. And so you can, if you remove yourself from that experience of watching, then you can look more objectively and say, Oh, well, this character, saying This plugs into the character arccan because I know what they really mean by that I understand the emotional power when they do this, or whatever it is. And I think in life, that’s also just useful. And I think that’s, I tend to be a very patient person, because I have kind of trained myself to, you know, when something happens, there’s how I feel about it, I’m going to acknowledge that I feel that way, put that on pause, and then zoom out and look at this situation objectively and say, what’s actually going on here. And then I can make a decision based on that more rational appraisal of things. And so that it takes a lot of energy. And it’s really hard to do a lot of the time. But I think that’s something that I think is useful, and that I wish there was that it was easier to arrive at in our culture, because it’s, it’s hard.


Brett Bartholomew  27:45  

Yeah, well, a lot of that has to do with how we tend to perceive and internalize failure, right, which is interesting and threat and what have you, I’m glad that you kind of gave a brief synopsis and a charmingly simplified way of saying, yeah, it’s about these aliens that land and do nothing. And then you kind of talked about the conflict that created you see the same thing. And I tell you this as we continue to get to know one another, and you see the synergy here, hopefully, so you understand the bigger impact your work has, at art of coaching. You know, a lot of the times when people reach out to me, they may say, hey, this individual I work with or somebody that I’m training or what have you, it could be an athlete, it could be a corporate exec, I can’t get buy in or they’re stubborn, or something’s going on here. There’s a conflict and, you know, they want to tell me about all the traits and attributes of this individual, right? They kind of, and in my book, I talked about 16 archetypes and you understand, obviously, better than most concept of archetypes. They exist in film ubiquitously, and they make it very much about this person. And I always try to tell them like yeah, okay, well, like, what are you doing? Yeah, well, I gave him the research, or I told her this, I’m like, alright, well, it sounds like you’re trying to, like, influence them through rational persuasion, or you’re trying to compel them to do something through giving them some inspirational kind of communicative act, but like, how do you know that’s what they how they perceive it? And well, it doesn’t matter. And, and we got to do this. I’m like, but it does, right. Like the context, the settings matter, like, think of all the films that people don’t see, because they hear about something from a friend or I didn’t like this, and I didn’t like that, or the storyline sounds, you know, violent or something like that. It’s like, no, no, but in the context of that world, if you just take a deeper look at the exposition and how it’s conveyed, it’s not that at all. I mean, I remember my mom, you know, for a long time, whether we looked at superhero movies like that, well, I’m not gonna see this and I go mom, and I get it. And I hate to use the example of superhero movies. But even you do a great job of breaking down like, Yeah, I mean, listen, there’s really good examples of character arcs. you looked at Tony Stark and Captain. I think when people can see the conflict of their own lives manifested in film, if they’re actually paying attention. They’d regard it very differently. They’d regard it very differently. Does that make sense? Or is that like, just nonsense? What I said.


Michael Tucker  29:57  

Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s funny that you because My mom also was not really in the superhero train and kind of when COVID started and everybody was locked down, she needed something to do. And she was like, I guess I’ll start watching these Marvel movies. And then she got hooked and watched all of them. Because giving them a chance she was able to find, you know, the, whatever you might think of them on the surface, if you do look deeply there is really important, like storytelling and psychological things in there. And yeah, I think what you’re talking about is really important as a creative person also, because that’s obviously where I come from with this. And so like I have a creative partner, Alex Kairos, who’s on the Lessons from the Screenplay team. He’s on our podcast beyond the screenplay, and he and I have worked together. Since college, when we kind of both discovered that we were both equally ambitious and excited about film in the same way. We just started working together and have worked together ever since. And over time, I’ve worked more and more closely as CO directors and CO writers. And that journey has had a lot of ups and downs that have been very instructive and helpful for me as a, just as a creator myself, because it’s made me have to challenge my preconceived notions and my ego. And I think that is a really important part, I have found any way to become to allow yourself to be a creative person that is willing to grow and learn, I think you have to kind of exactly what you’re saying, with these people and dealing with the different archetypes and they’re trying to explain to somebody else, well, this is how I see it. So you should see it this way. And using the techniques that work for you to try to convey to somebody else. It is helpful to almost like, assume you’re wrong, like take a moment, or at least that’s what I try to do is like when I’m stuck on something, and I feel really passionately that like, Alex, it should be this shot and not bad shot. And then we’re going head to head and having this argument, when I can summon the power to pause and say just for fun, I’m going to assume that I’m wrong and assume that the other person is right, and try to see it from their perspective. More often than not, I am able to, if nothing else, communicate better with them, because I understand, well, he’s seeing this idea that I’m putting forth from this perspective. And in this framing, and for him. It’s this kind of disaster scenario, because it’s actually what I’m proposing here has this negative effect somewhere else, and that’s the thing that he’s actually concerned about. And then once we’re able to identify, oh, okay, you’re actually worried about this thing. So why don’t we go and talk about that thing? And then we fix that. And then the problem that’s in front of us suddenly isn’t a problem anymore? I hope that makes sense.


Brett Bartholomew  32:55  

It makes a lot of sense. I think it’s an advantage that creative fields and I don’t want to paint it because I’m sure. Well, you and I both know every field is got its issues, right. But But creative fields have over ScienceBase fields. You know, if you look at where I started in strength and conditioning, it’s so research based that people instead of assuming taking out well, let’s assume I’m wrong approach, they’re so desperate to be right. You know, somebody would put some research online, you know, and then somebody spends their entire day trying to find research that shows that that’s wrong. I mean, and it’s very much this fetishization of a I’m trying to be right, and I’m going to show you the research done in this part of the brain. It’s like, all right, you know, relax. I remember one time in particular, because, again, I hope this continues to contribute to the conversation we have, and us seeing the similarities of what we do. I was one time working with a special forces operator who was an amputee, and he was being put through a program where the government was paying for him to get strength and conditioning based training in order to rehabilitate. And so we could kind of go on to have somewhat of a normal life, you know, after you’ve experienced this traumatic injury, and we’re using a particular exercise, it doesn’t matter for the context of this conversation, what it was, and, you know, somebody had seen a photo of it, or what have you on social media and was like, well, that’s not as effective as this. Here’s next thing, you know, I had three links of the research article, and I said, Yo, like, this guy is an amputee, he’s an adaptive athlete. Now he, what you sent makes no difference whatsoever, because he can’t perform that, based on his injury, like, are you seeing things right? But like, we get so caught up in wanting to be right about something that people don’t take that assumed to be wrong. And it’s easy in a day and age where you can make data. It’s funny, like, just like film has sometimes an over reliance on CGI and other things. ScienceBase fields when they look at data that essentially in today’s day and age can say whatever you want it to say or not want it to say. It’s just the antithesis of looking at things big picture, you know, and you told a story once on one of your interviews and I loved where you had talked about one of the ways that you would work through creative blocks. And I would imagine this is just personality blocks as well or conflict is you creating a lot of short films under constraints, right and constraints, my audience understands that because when we teach athletes agility, they have to, you know, cut a certain way based on a certain command or stimulus response, right? And constraints in daily life. So I think you use an example of, hey, you have to do this in this scene, but you have to say, I love you, or somebody has to do this and this scene and say something else, and the audience could even submit constraints. And because of that it made you look beyond yourself and the situation and the environment of the moment and have an output that was useful instead of just sitting there in your own head. Can you talk a little bit more about the role that constraints play in your life and the value of your work?


Michael Tucker  35:51  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So one of the projects that Alex and I worked on about 10 years ago is this series of short films that we did called finite films, where we would we were going to release a short film every month, and the audience could come and submit constraints that were just these one word, or one sentence. character based things location, things like one character loves all lives, or one scene must take place in the rain. And that idea came to us because we were trying to come up with new ideas for stories. And, you know, when you’re writing and you sit down, and there’s a big blank page, it’s can be overwhelming, or, you know, you can start going a direction and then halfway through realize, actually, no, I want to go this way. And he can end up all over the place. And so having constraints is actually what activates creativity. So when you have these certain walls around you, and it’s like, well, you can’t go over there, and you can’t go over there. Now you have to make a good story, that it suddenly becomes fun, it becomes almost like a puzzle. And so constraints are very important to the creative process. I think like, I think someone use the example of like painting, like the frame of a painting, like the canvas is your constraint, you have to do something within these borders. And that’s kind of what the constraints are almost what gives the project meaning. And so I think what that year long process of making those short films taught us was to embrace constraints, because I think that’s another, you know, I always think about, again, Film School mean, and all the things that aren’t fun about creating it first. And, you know, the idea of like, well, you have to make something, it can only be this long, and it has to take place here, at first that can sound limiting, and you want to rebel against that. But now I see the value in creating those constraints. And that activates the part of yourself that ultimately has the most fun, I think, like, that’s, where you can create something that is of value to people and challenges you to be better. And that’s how you improve. So constraints, I think are a very important part of the creation process. Whether that’s writing or filmmaking, like whatever it is, and filmmaking itself is a medium that is just like filled with constraints, because you can write a scene and hope it’ll look one way, but then you get the set. And maybe it’s raining when it wasn’t supposed to be. So now, whether you wanted to or not, the scene takes place in the rain, or the actor has one way of thinking about the scene and there’s not enough time to change it. Or maybe their idea is better. But that means something else has to change. So filmmaking in general, especially once you get on set requires so much flexibility and kind of thinking on your feet, that I think it’s the entire process rewards. Practicing that idea of like, things aren’t perfect, because they’re never going to be perfect. So how good are you at making something that’s compelling and meaningful to people? When the situations aren’t perfect?


Brett Bartholomew  39:09  

Yeah. Which I mean, I love I mean, I guess they shouldn’t inhibit, they inspire, right? And, again, going back to somebody that you put me on Robert McKee, there’s a curse of the avant garde, that when people feel like they need all these things to do what they need to do, when really they could facilitate it, probably better within constraints. And those constraints can be fairly minimal. They’re better for doing so, you know, there were plenty of times where I had to coach in different countries or even when I speak now, like I might go and you know, you imagine this place is going to have this setup because it’s in the contract. And all of a sudden, they don’t have audio and they don’t have this. I mean, I went to China one time and they asked me if I had a projector I’m like, You need me to have a projector you got 1000 people. You know, but it’s funny and it goes hand in hand with like this idea of affordances as well, which is something we talked about in the world of sport performance where you know, affordances are properties of objects that kind of show you what you’re supposed to do with it like light switches or for flicking? Well, if you have rain, I would have to imagine in filmmaking and it wasn’t supposed to rain. Well, it’s a pretty good opportunity to leverage the rain or the gray sky for a dramatic shot that you might not have gotten otherwise, am I correct?


Michael Tucker  40:18  

Yeah, absolutely. There’s, there’s usually a silver lining to be found. If you’re creative with it. Yeah. x


Brett Bartholomew  40:23  

Sure, so it’s just it’s so funny. from a cultural standpoint and profession standpoint, we see. So we have these live workshops that when you know, COVID is not a thing go on with regularity. And they’re called The Art of coaching apprenticeship. And we have people from a wide variety of fields we’ve had, we haven’t anybody from filmmaking, but we’ve had everybody from FBI and the sport performance realm to somebody that owned a bakery to somebody that was in, you know, you name it, we have it, and we put them in role playing type scenarios that are of course, elevated, like, improv would be right. Like people often say, Well improv is make believe, and it’s not serious. Are they associated with comedy and are like, well, actually, improv is pretty much every day life. And, you know, I remember one example that we did, Michael was, we told one coach that, hey, here’s five people in front of you. And we brought up actual folks from the audience, you have to explain this thing to each of them in five different ways. And here’s the archetypical behaviors, they’re going to employ, you know, one’s a little manipulative, and they’re going to try to throw you off your game one is highly skeptical. One is a novice and very excited about this, you’re going to have to manage their excitement in the moment. And I remember somebody stood up, and they’re like, well, this would never happen. And you just look at them. And you’re like, Are you sure about that? You don’t think you’re ever going to explain things to a group of people? And you’re gonna have varied responses? And all? You know, how does your how and I know you can’t speak for the entire field. But let’s talk about your circle of friends or whoever you want to use an example. Is that stuff more widely accepted in filmmaking? Or do people still kind of sometimes need to be convinced and they almost feel too snobbish to allow themselves go down these creative paths where they have to deal with extemporaneous issues or problems?


Michael Tucker  42:04  

I think one of the things I like about filmmaking in the film community is that there is more of the acceptance that this kind of the improv and the imagining of what if scenarios, like that’s what movies are, right? It’s people that play dress up and pretend like something’s happening, and we record it and show it to people. So that’s one of the things that I think is really freeing about being in this sort of the drama space is that the people there are really open to that and even like, thrive and enjoy the idea of like, let’s pretend that this is the situation that we’re in improvised and stuff. And I think that’s, it is really valuable. And because as you’re saying, like life is improvisation. And so having experience with that flexibility, is really important. And I think it’s a great tool for discovery. And, like, Yeah, I think kind of, like you’re saying, there’s, I think there’s more imagination in our daily lives than we are conscious of, like, I think so. So many of our interpersonal relationships are fears that we have, are these kind of stories that we’re telling ourselves unconsciously, where it’s like, you can be really afraid that this person is going to react this way, or, you know, sometimes, you know, I’ll have conversations in my head where I’m like, I’m worried about this note that I’m gonna give this person and they’re going to say this, and then I’m gonna have to say this. And then who knows what’s going to happen, there’s this whole scenario that I’ve created in my head, that is me, assuming that’s what’s going to happen, but it isn’t real. But it’s affecting me and affecting my body as if it is real. And so I think, doing things that you Yeah, that flex your imagination, muscles, and your improvisation muscles are actually very useful in navigating life. Because so much of our experience is kind of created in our heads. Like, at any given moment, there’s very little that’s around us that is completely real. Like, it’s hard to explain, but the things that we’re that we carry around with us day to day, whether it’s about work and projects, it’s usually stuff that’s either happened or is supposed to happen, and it’s in the future and, you know, very little bit is tangible, right in front of us. And so, much of our experience is yeah, like navigating the story, that we’re kind of constantly weaving about ourselves and what’s supposed to happen and what we’re afraid of is going to happen and what we want to happen. So I think being just being having more awareness of that fact, I think is is useful as a creative and just as a person living life.


Brett Bartholomew  44:54  

Yeah, that’s, it’s well put, I think, you know, it’s various forms of overload as well, right? it like you would imagine certain people when they write themselves into a corner or you know, sometimes and I got over it, you know, I guess at a point in my career, I’d view certain things is, oh, that seems silly or to whatever. Now now, when we run these workshops, I want people to give me impossible problems. You know, like, I’m fine with you telling me something that is absolutely insane. Because then it makes any solution I come up with even that much more satisfying, because people will try to get really clever. And I know that you’ve done some stuff in improv in the past, too. And it actually kind of works against them. Because the more clever people try to get, the more obvious the answer becomes, at least when you’re used to dealing with these things. But I’ll never forget, when I had to tell a coach, I go listen, like, you know, the more ridiculous or unrealistic the constraint, the better, because that makes you think I go, you do the same thing with athletes, we put 400 pounds on guys backs, because it can help them be faster and more explosive over time. Again, as long as the other aspects of their training are well managed, like these people are lifting weights that no rational person would ever think outside of our context, is going to do anything beneficial. But that’s overload in the moment to facilitate an adaptation down the road. And yet, you get people that depending on how they feel about themselves, won’t submit to their own variation of constraints we have coaches or folks that will do whatever to put themselves in uncomfortable situations from a physiological standpoint, but in our personal No way, you know, and that’s why, again, I want to draw attention to your work. We’re talking off screen about one of the ways that I Found You was your video creating the ultimate antagonists, where you analyze, you know, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. And I just remember, you know, the Joker being this representation of chaos. And the film really being rooted in game theory, right like this. There’s this uncertainty. And it’s this decision making where it’s not both sides don’t always really know what they’re going to do, except the Joker knows he’s going to leverage that one rule. Man, if your one rule is you’ll never be willing to make yourself look stupid. And I’m not talking about Batman here, I’m talking about people that have pride. You’re never going to be able to become what you need to become to be most effective in the con in that moment. Right. And that will never be the dark night like people get so caught up in what they’re supposed to be whether that’s the proliferation of morning routines, or they need to be this perfect. It’s like, well, good luck, because constraints reveal character to a degree, right?


Michael Tucker  47:24  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s kind of the the main lesson in that video, and that I think the Dark Knight movie exemplifies so well is that, you know, character is the choice you make under pressure. And it’s a choice. That’s, as you pointed out, there’s, you don’t know the outcome. So there’s this dilemma that’s in front of you. And there are two choices, none of them are clearly the right one. So what do you choose kind of, you know, and storytelling anyway, especially reveals character and lets the audience know who this person really is. And I think the the analogy that you just made, it’s, like, really useful. And I think something that’s kind of been amorphous in my head, but hearing you kind of say, it has been really helpful, where it’s like, you know, your example of people that are willing to push themselves, you know, physiologically to these crazy places where it’s like, you know, the example you gave someone standing up and saying, that would never happen in this other situation, like, you would never usually need to carry 400 pounds on your back in normal, everyday life. But trying that makes you stronger, gives you experience of what it’s like to have to deal with a problem like that. And I think we are very willing, for some reason to take those risks in certain contexts, but especially in these interpersonal contexts. It’s, scarier, and you feel more vulnerable. But I feel like that’s, why those are the places that you should be taking those risks. And, you know, to bring it back to kind of like the writing creative side of things, I think, it’s, you know, especially when you’re starting out as a writer, you can write a story, and probably a lot of yourself is in there. So you feel very vulnerable and exposed. It’s a very personal story. And getting feedback on that can be a really scary thing, because you put all this love and kind of like your identity is in the story. And so if you show it to someone and they say, well, that’s kind of terrible, like that, one part is fine. But overall, this didn’t work. There was a problem here and problem there. It’s this kind of crisis moment that is hard to navigate because it can feel like someone is attacking you. And so often the responses to get defensive or say, you know, well, what I was trying to do here is this or you just don’t get it because as like, you’re not saying this thing and you kind of try to defend it and explain to someone why they should be seeing it the way you see it. But the discipline is to get comfortable in that feeling of vulnerable, take those notes, and then say, now I have information to go back and do it better. And that’s, it requires diving into this very scary, vulnerable state of mind where it can feel like your identity is being attacked. But that’s how you get stronger. And the more you do it, the less scary it becomes, until, you know, kind of on the other side, which is I think, overall where where I am now, like, I look forward to feedback, and there’s nothing I love more than crossing out big sections of my stories or my scripts. And like with red ink, because I know that, you know, whereas before I could see something like that, as you know, a loss or failure. Now, I understand that, if I’m crossing it out, it means that I know that there’s a better way to do it, and I’m on my way to doing it better. And so it’s this really kind of intense, psychological journey, you have to go on, and you have to accept this kind of this fear and vulnerability. But if you can, that’s how you get stronger. And I think that’s the really great storytellers have gone through that journey and understand that that’s just the process. And that’s what lets you create something where ultimately you are putting yourself into it, and it’s important to you, but it’s also communicated to other people such that it’s important to them as well,


Brett Bartholomew  51:40  

ya know, very relevant, very relevant in many ways where, you know, master one of our mottos, and it’s not original at all, but like, we just talking about respecting the craft and coaching and, what have you, and we help people or we’re trying to get people to understand that getting to that level, like you said, where you are just, it’s you understand that failure revisions. refinement is part and parcel with growth and really until you’re there, it’s you. You’re not a craftsman. I’m sorry, you’re still in that and you’re always gonna be an apprentice, right? Like that Hemingway quote. We’re all apprentices in a craft we were, we never become a master. But I remember one thing relating it to film is, I mean, I’m sure I can’t believe I’m gonna ask you this question. But you’ve seen the movie The hurricane? Yes. With Denzel Washington, or have you ever heard of it?


Michael Tucker  52:25  

Yeah, I have seen it a long time ago. I don’t remember.


Brett Bartholomew  52:28  

Yeah, no, no, I just where I’m going with this is that was a very impactful movie. For me. I went to see it with my mother when I was maybe 14 or 15. If there’s a fact checker out there, where I wrote this in my book, you know, whatever. But it was about Rubin, Hurricane Carter, a boxer that was wrongfully accused. And, you know, for racial issues, what have you ended up spending a significant amount of time in prison, wrote a book when he was in prison, and you know, somebody in the context of the movie, a kid found his book, I think he was a foster child of a young Canadian family, or what have you read the book, and then convinced his caretakers like, we got to free this guy. And so I remember it diving into the deep personal nature of this man who is in prison, and harbors all this anger and everything. And he’s got to figure out an outlet for it. And because he was able to tell his story in a unique way that connected with somebody external through all these events, right, and I won’t give it away, but maybe it’s a future project of yours. I remember leaving there, and I was 14 years old, and I was in tears. And my mom’s like, what are you crying about? It’s not like, you know, and I go, I need to do something with my life. I was like, a super serious kid. But I ended up you know, having some health complications later in life where I was hospitalized for a year. And that led me to writing a book where I share that journey. And I can’t tell you, I mean, in my field, that was anathema. Like you don’t admit stuff like that, you know, but once I did, and put it out there, this thing that I was ashamed of, for like 16 years, people started coming out of the woodwork and be like, do you know their own variations of a similar story. And I think that’s where, you know, early on, I looked at training as a tool to teach other people what they’re capable of. But now I look at it as you know, communication, coaching, failure, refinement, self analysis, and all this. exposing yourself to that uncertainty is the best tool to teach people what they’re capable of. And during a time where it’s so easy to wrap yourself in, I don’t know, you know, continuing education resources that are affirmation, based instead of education, especially education of self. It’s just we’ve lost that we’ve lost that act. And people don’t get into that enough, even though it’s like, Hey, your expertise has nothing to do with your years of experience. It has to do more with how many layers of your skin are you willing to peel back so that you can keep growing? But does that make sense? Is that is that a lucid thought at all in the context of your work?


Michael Tucker  54:43  

Yeah, no. 100% I think that’s that’s super important. And I think that the movies that I love our movies that just tell the truth like that, because I think that is that’s the scariest thing like we kind of think of bravery in there’s sort of these external embodiments or images that we think of as, like being bravery and, and, or being brave. And I think that’s all, like true and valid. But there’s, I think the, like, true courage is being able to expose the truth about yourself or tell the truth that people are uncomfortable hearing. And I think that’s, you know, I talk a lot about the movie Inside Out the Pixar animated film. And I love it, because, it’s this kind of rare movie that has this message where, like, it’s okay to be sad. It’s just like this, you know, in our society, we’re all about like, about to be happy and successful, and like, there’s a way that you should be. And the important lesson in that movie is that like, sadness is part of life also. And that’s okay. And that always just strikes me as being so powerful, because, you know, that’s, we don’t have a whole lot of that have in our media, or in our culture of saying, like, it’s okay to not be perfect all the time, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be afraid, like, these are all parts of the human experience. And they are what make you stronger and better and let you connect to people. And that connection is what we all alike want. And ultimately, what makes us feel fulfilled in life. And so I think that’s what I love about film and stories is that when they’re done really well, they can be this kind of, for the storyteller, it’s a very vulnerable, scary thing to put yourself out there and that way and expose yourself like that. But it’s this also kind of a generous thing that then, you know, I can sit in a theater, usually not this year, but I can sit in a theater with a couple 100 people, and we all can go in with our guards up, and we’re just trying to live our day to day lives. But we get this message of, it’s okay to be yourself. And it’s okay to be afraid and be sad. And like that’s part of life. And it’s just, it’s a little nugget of truth that I think makes people that can enrich people’s lives. And it’s, they can receive it without having to put themselves out there. And so I think that’s storytelling at its best can be this very generous thing, where you’re letting people go on this emotional experience and learn an important lesson without having to put themselves at risk.


Brett Bartholomew  57:31  

Yeah, no,


Michael Tucker  57:32  

I don’t want to experience it.


Brett Bartholomew  57:34  

There are a lot of questions I want to ask with that. And I also want to be conscious of your time. So I’m going to have to like figure out how to, I feel like we could talk for quite a while. One thing that has continued to hook me about your work. And this is related to what you said, just give me a moment to try to formulate this right is you get the essence of both how you communicate. The words you use, the tonality, the cadence, there’s an essence of calmness about it, whether that is something you work on, or not, I’m fascinated in. But from the background music as well, you get this feeling like you’re in good hands, like your videos during one of the most stressful years of my life are obscene ly calming to the point where I started watching them at breakfast. And my wife said, Well, what are you doing? I’m like  listen, I know you liked the today’s show and shit. But this dude, like, it kind of puts me in the zone that I need to be in. So I’m fast one, I just want to give you that compliment. Except that 


Michael Tucker  58:34  

thank you. 


Brett Bartholomew  58:35  

And I’m gonna do something here. I’m gonna risk something here real quick. I’m generally pretty good at reading people. But I’m wrong often as well. The level of introspection and the tone and some of the themes you explore connotates, that you are somebody that is either deeply introspective, which we’ve explored, you’re an only child, at least for the most part or what have you. But is there something that you’ve and I know everybody’s got their thing? But is there some darkness that you deal with or have dealt with in your life that really kind of helped hasten this process of self exploration, recognition of higher order themes? Is there an inner demon so to speak, that, you know, provides that added perspective because I, feel like it’s not all that common for somebody to explore the things that you explore in the way that you explore them. It’s like you have a very unique language of your own. So that’s it’s not a well formed question. But I just want to know, is there something there, I think example would be I can come off as a fairly intense person, if you meet me, that comes from me, having almost lost my life at a young age seeing a lot of family members pass. I have this urgency to me and it can work against me and for me, I guess that’s what I mean. Is there any kind of inner demon that compels you one way or another or informs the way you interact or craft things?


Michael Tucker  59:50  

Yeah, that’s a good question. First of all, thank you, that was all very flattering. As a creator. It’s amazing to hear people Yeah. are moved by your work. So, so thank you. Yeah, I mean, I feel like everyone does have, you know, some, you know, in storytelling terms, it’s often called like the ghost, which is you know that the traumatic incident in the past that kind of explains why someone has the fears that they do. If there’s nothing like That’s so like, clear, and easy to point to, I think in my life, because I’ve had a pretty amazing life, I’ve been pretty privileged. And so yeah, it’s kind of like, on paper, I feel like there’s nothing I should ever be, you know, upset about. But I do think and I think this is maybe why I like inside out. And why it speaks to me is that I think, as a child, I was a very emotional child. And I think I was just, you know, my imagination, but also just in tune with my feelings a lot and kind of wore my heart on my sleeve. And that’s generally not in our culture. And I think it’s changing, but you know, not like a manly way to exist in the world. And I think especially like in middle school in high school, that was a hard thing for me to navigate. And most of my friends were girls, and I actually just related more to girls, because I felt like I could be more of my honest self. And then kind of in high school and early college, like kind of eventually, that was beat out of me a little bit. Like, that’s maybe an unnecessarily strong way to say it, because I think I still am that person, but you just you kind of learn, this is like the way culture expects you to be and how to navigate all these things. And so I think I didn’t lose those parts of myself, but I did have to kind of repress them or put them away. And just like, I think any teenager also that worries your heart on your sleeve, eventually, it’s gonna get broken, and then you kind of build up your defense mechanisms around that. 


And so I think I have always been a very introspective person. And yeah, very in touch with emotions. And I think it’s helped me be empathetic. Because I think that’s, now I think, how I mostly feel things is, through empathy, and watching other people experience things, like, tragedies can happen to me, and it sucks. But I don’t feel the same way as when I see somebody else, like going through a tragedy. So yeah, so I think that’s somewhere in all of that is probably that this this, you know, to be an it’s almost just like, the loss of childhood net, it’s like becoming an adult having to leave behind emotions, and just like the, I don’t know, the ability to be yourself, and that it’s okay to be whatever you are. I think that’s, yeah, I like stories now that have that message of like, it’s okay to be you. And we need more people that can just be themselves. And I think that, as I was saying earlier, that vulnerability is what lets us connect to people, because everyone has an inner self that they’re kind of guarding or not, we’re afraid to let too many people see. And I think you have to in order to form meaningful connections. And so, like I said, I think storytelling is a way to kind of create that, bridge for people to let themselves slowly be vulnerable, or indirectly connect about go see the movie. Maybe you and your friend both cry, but like, you’ll have to talk about it. You have to look at each other, like crying. It’s like, yeah, this, we both had this experience, and we can talk about it as this other thing, but it’s letting you connect in that way. And I think that’s what storytelling can do at its best.


Brett Bartholomew  1:03:57  

Yeah, very well put. Do you have and it’s okay to say no. Do you have time for three more questions, and one of them is a softball. So like, you know, you don’t have to worry if I’m gonna ask you something that’s gonna. 


Michael Tucker  1:04:08  

Yeah, sure. Good. Okay. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:09  

Yeah. Let me think of how I’ll give you the soft one. First, just because you reference inside out and appreciate this theme of, you know, sadness, and it’s okay. You know, very much in our work at art of coaching, we’re trying to be the anti kind of rah rah leadership thing, right, this thing that also tells like, yeah, there we were all aware of the bright side of, what traditional leadership looks like. We’ve heard innumerable examples. But there’s also a dark side, right, these socially undesirable traits that get typecast and could be hallmarked by words like manipulation and influence and power dynamics and what have you, which really aren’t bad. They’re only bad if they’re, you know, not wielded appropriately or not recognized to that point, just because they tend to get typecast as the villain and the villain doesn’t always get there due who is one of your favorite villains in film and it can be animated or can be in general, who do you think is? Representative of something? That’s? Yeah, I’ll just leave it at that. I’ll leave it vague.


Michael Tucker  1:05:07  

Yeah, that’s a good question.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:13  

And don’t feel pressure to have like your number one. I know that’s, always tricky. It doesn’t have to be your number one, just one that you really feel like, Yeah, this is a great villain.


Michael Tucker  1:05:24  

You know, it’s, weird, because I think in film, there’s sort of like, there’s villains, which are usually like, clearly, like the bad people and represent what you shouldn’t be. And I think I really like stories where there are antagonists, but not necessarily villains. And so this is kind of or just like, you know, collateral as a movie, I think about a lot with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, where Tom Cruise is kind of like the villain in that story. But yeah, it’s he’s, I think I like stories where the antagonist is used to teach the protagonist how to live better lives, where there’s like something in if you think about that movie, Tom Cruise is too far on the side of like, hyper confidence and hyper cool. And like all this stuff, like he’s a hitman. Like, that’s obviously bad. But in this night, that the two of them spend together, he’s kind of slowly brings Jamie Foxx out of the other end of the spectrum, where he’s so afraid to do anything that he does nothing with his life, even though he has all these dreams. And so that model of antagonist I always like where it’s, there’s, that person is still a human, and there are parts of them. That is good, because everybody is complex, but it’s just they’ve taken it too far, or are unwilling to let go of the piece that makes it, you know, a negative manifestation of these traits. And so it makes the protagonist learn a better way to be, and kind of draws them more to this middle area where you can see the good and bad and take the useful parts of both ways of being so


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:08  

yeah, the gray area right, which is ironic, because he wears a gray suit in the majority of that film. I’m sure that’s right. No, I appreciate you’re right. And it leads into something I remember that scene where Jamie Foxx eventually just has to step into this persona, right, where he’s confronted by the, you know, the goons that are essentially like, you’re not this guy, and he has to step up and assert himself. It’s interesting because in coaching and leadership, another I think lie that we’re told is, you know, well, it’s not about you, and it should be about others, and it’s always serving others. And of course, you need to provide others with value. That’s, unquestionable, right? Like, I know. But I think there’s also this immense narrative out there that if you do anything that is remotely perceived as self promotion, or personal branding, or what have you that you’re a sellout, and then it’s evil, and what have you. And I know, to a degree, these things can happen. I mean, I remember Scorsese going on about, you know, all these Marvel movies and what have you. And, and in coaching, it’s very much the case, when I first got on social media, that was very much No, you are not supposed to have this. You know, as we step into different roles in our lives, how have you navigated that giving yourself permission to be like, you know, what, it’s not bad to have a brand. It’s not this, you know, is that anything that you ever struggled with? Did you ever just kind of want to stay in the background a little bit, but with the emergence of, you know, the popularity of Lessons from the Screenplay, and what have you, you learn how to deal with, again, I want to make sure I’m asking a clear question, but also leaving it open ended? How have you addressed this kind of concept of staying true to the craft, while not selling out while not being apologetic for building a brand?


Michael Tucker  1:08:47  

Right? Yeah, I mean, I think you lay it out? Well, it is a very tricky thing to navigate. I think, if you’re someone who can see where people are coming from when they’re annoyed by, you know, quote, unquote, selling out, right, and so like, if you’re an artist, I feel like there’s a lot of that built in of like, you want to be true to your art and all that stuff. But you have to sell it to a certain degree or else you’re not going to be able to make the art and so how do you walk that balance? I think I in creating the channel kind of designed it so that it didn’t feel like it was about me that much. Like I don’t really appear on screen in the videos except at the very end to talk to the audience and say what’s coming up next and stuff. And so I was very conscious of all of that when designing it and you know, had followed other YouTubers and heard kind of their experiences with all of that. And so I think that’s why I tried to craft the brand around the work and the analysis as much as possible and not as much about me as a personality. And so I think that kind of helped me feel comfortable promoting it, because it didn’t feel as much like promoting myself even though it is essentially. And so that’s kind of how I navigated it. But I, you know, there’s the world of social media as this whole, um, inputs can of worms that I probably shouldn’t get too much into, but, it does reward personality based, you know, brands, and in a way that is, basically I think, if I put myself in the brand and put that more forward, I think I could have grown faster. And I think even on Twitter, like, the more emotional you are, when you’re tweeting and say, like, I hate this, or I love this, it’s easier for people to like, latch on to. And so I wasn’t super interested in doing any of that. So I avoided that. But it is also kind of shooting yourself in the foot when doing it. So it’s, a hard thing to navigate,


Brett Bartholomew  1:10:59  

ya know, it’s very relatable. I mean, I remember, you know, on YouTube, there are plenty of people that told me oh, you should do YouTube and this and but for the type of content we produce, that’s not a great medium to express that right? Like, I could shoot Sure, I could show myself like, Hey, here’s how you manage this group of athletes, or here’s how you manage it. Like, that’s not as interesting as seeing it in real time and experiencing it in real time. And so it takes a while to find your medium to Right. Like, I knew if I stayed on the athlete training side, of course, like we’re gonna see certain mediums take off. But now that I’ve shifted more into nuances of interpersonal communication, teaching about how to navigate power dynamics and personality, you know, that typically is done fairly well over the podcast, or our online courses, or our books or our live events. So people need to find their fit too. Don’t they almost like the idea of genre. It’s like not you don’t need to be everywhere you need to pick and choose and then not worry about falling the narrative of everybody else.


Michael Tucker  1:11:50  

Yeah, yeah, when under percent. And I think that’s really smart advice. And that’s in that was one of the things that I kind of unexpectedly found, when we launched our podcast beyond the screenplay was that I felt comfortable letting my personality kind of expose itself more there, like it felt like a safer space in some ways, then film YouTube, which can also turn toxic very quickly. So I think, yeah, choosing the right format for what you’re trying to do is very important.


Brett Bartholomew  1:12:18  

And within that, Michael, and then, you know, again, I can’t tell people enough that if you haven’t already subscribed to everything, Michael does Lessons from the Screenplay. I’ve subscribed to your podcast as well, I could care less we interview. Again, it’s all just fascinating storytelling story, Mo, what have you within all these projects and will continue to share? We’ll definitely share the links. What have you learned about yourself as a communicator?


Michael Tucker  1:12:41  

It’s a good question. I think, I have realized that for whatever reason, my life experience has led me to this place where I seem to be good at distilling ideas down into an audio visual form that can be conveyed clearly and simply to people. And that’s, that’s my goal, anyway, and I think it’s I like that about myself. If I can, yeah, again, just throw out the humbleness for a second. But that’s, I think it’s a hard thing to come by. And it’s a hard thing to do. And so I feel gratified when I’m able to do it, or when people you know, give that feedback of like, oh, this was made so clear. and I are it’s so soothing and relaxing to like, it’s very fulfilling to me, because that’s something I want to see more of in the world. And so to be able to contribute to that, at least a little bit. Is nice. So I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s, I guess what I’ve learned about myself,


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:56  

yeah, you nailed it, man. Well, tell everybody, everywhere links in all where can we support you? How can we find you? Rock and roll, go with it?


Michael Tucker  1:14:05  

Awesome. Okay, so on YouTube, I have two channels. Lessons from the Screenplay is the one that’s been going for, four going on five years now. It’s all about film analysis. And then also on YouTube, I’ve just launched a new channel called Story Mode, which is looking at storytelling in video games. And there’s a lot of really interesting overlaps with film and video games. But also, it’s this kind of new medium that can affect the player in a really interesting way. So I’m really excited about that. So Lessons from the Screenplay, and story mode are on YouTube. And then we have our podcast beyond the screenplay, which is where the team that I’ve formed over the last couple of years, and the same team that works on Lessons from the Screenplay and story mode. We do like conversational film analysis. So it’s kind of like a slightly more casual and longer form way of talking about movies that we love and what they do well and what they don’t Do well so GM screenplay available wherever you get your podcast.


Brett Bartholomew  1:15:04  

Yeah and we will make sure you pause for a moment there we’ll make sure and we’ll have those available in the show notes everywhere Michael I think man there’s there’s a lot I’d like to continue to talk to you about. So I hope we keep in touch I hope this show challenge you and also made you feel welcomed and supported at the same time. I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for you accepting the invitation of a stranger man.


Michael Tucker  1:15:27  

Well, yeah, thank you so much. This was a very fun conversation and I appreciated all the places that we went and I appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness with with how you run offense. So thank you.


Brett Bartholomew  1:15:41  

It was my pleasure. My pleasure, guys. This is Brett Bartholomew, art of coaching podcast, signing off.

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