as our guest Emmy-nominated producer and author of PRODUCE
YOURSELF Terence Michael.
has produced over 20 movies and 30 TV shows (Duck Dynasty). He
additionally hosts 2 podcasts about the entertainment industry. In
his spare time, he invests in real estate, runs a mortgage business,
and consults entrepreneurs on how to monetize their passions and be
happy in the process.
as our guest Emmy-nominated producer and author of PRODUCE
YOURSELF Terence Michael.
Terence has produced over 20 movies and 30 TV shows (Duck Dynasty). He additionally hosts 2 podcasts about the entertainment industry. In his spare time, he invests in real estate, runs a mortgage business, and consults entrepreneurs on how to monetize their passions and be happy in the process.
Terence has been developing, producing, and delivering story content, from film to television, over the course of ownership in three separate production companies covering most of the major studios, networks, and agencies in "Hollywood."
He has now produced
feature films distributed by studios such as Sony, Universal, MGM,
Lionsgate, and HBO; and executive produced television shows airing on
networks such as NBC, Fox, MTV, VH1, Showtime, Lifetime, TLC, Spike,
Esquire, Syfy, Travel Channel, and A&E.
Terence enjoys both developing and producing intellectual properties and formats for 100% Terry Cloth as well as show running other existing network or cable shows.
Additionally, he has guest
lectured and consulted on development, financing, story, packaging
and nuts-and-bolts producing panels for the Cannes Film Festival, the
Los Angeles Film Festival, Independent Film Project West (IFP), Film
ITConference, the SXSW Film Festival, AFI, and UCLA Film Extension;
has been featured in magazines and publications, such as The Los
Angeles Times, MovieMaker, Moving Pictures, Back Stage West,
Independent Film and Video, Screenwriters Utopia, Writers Script
Network, Venice Magazine, Newsweek, Details, and The Christian
He received an Emmy nomination in 2017 for Travel Channel's Planet Primetime.
Terence Michael has collaborated with many artists and brands in his films and TV shows, including:
Actors: Scarlett Johansson, Ben Stiller, Sarah Jessica Parker, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Tambor, Tea Leoni, Tom Sizemore, Katherine Heigl, Peter Dinklage, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Patrick Dempsey, Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner, Michael McKean, Britt Robertson, Oliver Hudson, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jonathan Tucker, Nora Dunn, Skeet Ulrich, Cheryl Ladd, Alan King, Elizabeth Reaser, Megan Mullaly, Jennifer Morrison, Erin Bartlett, Jesse Bradford, Adam Goldberg, David Krumholtz, James Tupper, Jill Clayburgh, Eric Szmanda, Eric Mabius, Eric Schaeffer, and lates Alan King, Jill Clayburgh, John Heard
Comedians: Adam Carolla, Tom Green, Chris Hardwick, Flula Borg, Ken Marino, Alonzo Bodden
Athletes: Football’s Vince Papale, basketball’s Rick Barry, motocross’ James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Todd Potter, and the Metal Mulisha team, skateboarding’s Tony Hawk, Buckey Lasek, Jason Ellis and snowboarding’s Shawn White, triathlete’s Wendy Ingraham and Chris Legh
Musicians: Aimee, Mann, The Verve Pipe, Jill Sobule, Blink 182, Amanda Kravat, Foxy Brown, Usher, Vanessa Carlton
Hosts/Authors: Amanda De Cadenet, Karla Cavalli, Allen Haff, Paul McKenna, Lisa Williams, Grant Imahara, Leeann Tweeden
Brands: RedBull, Degree, Monster, Playboy, Jabbawockeez, The Golden Nugget, Joe’s Crab Shack, Oakley, the Duck Dynasty family
Norm: Good day Terence and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you break into becoming a producer and what kind of training did you have to become one?
Terence: It’s an interesting
story, because one of the twelve stages of the Hero is “Crossing
The Threshold,” which I quite literally did on the Warner Bros.
lot, sneaking in past the guard gates so I could drop off resumes at
the producer bungalows.
Not that it was even necessary, but I think it gave me a little edge over all the other wannabes who were willing to work for producers for free reading scripts.
I also had zero training, in that many producers go to film school and understand the infrastructure and production process. I had none of that. I went to business school.
But as a film producer, it has served me well because there really is no formal trajectory or route to take on the film side. Outside of the more hirable positions with budgets and schedule, as a film producer you are relegated to rights and intellectual property. You basically carve your path by finding story and doing everything possible, conventional or not, to get people (actors, directors) interested. I always compare it to planning a wedding or building a house. You may have never done it. But if you have the resourcefulness, tenacity, and mindset, you can do it. A producer is really just someone who understands that obstacles, “No”s, and failures are just the necessary stepping stones to getting there, much like the traditional Hero in the Hero’s Journey.
Norm: What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far in your career?
Norm: What was your most challenging production to date?
Terence: Adam Carolla and I were
doing a project out of his car collector garage (Adam collects all of
Paul Newman’s old racing cars… it’s pretty amazing to see! He’s
like a Jay Leno in that respect).
The concept of the show was
stinging real life mechanics and car salesman who were dishonest with
customers, sold them a lemon or overcharged them. So since the show
was more journalistic and under-cover, I wasn’t used to
relinquishing control to human behavior.
We normally script and outline everything we want to happen. But this show was dependent on real people deciding if they would fall into traps we were setting for them, and then hoping they would in turn let us film it. It turned out great, but it wasn’t easy getting there. The network eventually realized how tough it was and shelved it. I was a bit relieved, I must admit.
Norm: Predominantly, are you brought into projects or do you find projects?
Terence: Good question. In film, it’s almost 100 percent self-generated. Although I would love to be brought onto a film to make it happen for another entity with all of the money and pieces in place… in Hollywood you have to earn your producer credit by raising the money and attaching the elements, every time, over and over again.
It’s rare, unless you’re a
manager or the president of a star’s company or something to be a
true producer on a project without having instigated the whole thing.
With TV (and partially why I gravitate toward it), you can set much of the administrative and fund raising aside and get pulled onto an existing show owned by the networks or other companies. So in TV, I am able to get hired on as a showrunner and perform the functions and process of producing that I love, without the fundraising of film. But at the same time, I’m always developing my own IP in TV and selling shows as well. As with other areas and industries, the real money comes from ownership.
Norm: If you were to briefly sum it up, how would you describe the job of a producer and the sequence of the production process?
Terence: To over-simplify, it’s
finding a great story to make a great script to find a great director
to attract great talent to in turn attract financing that leads to a
That right there is what the majority of creative producers in Hollywood do. They package. They fundraise.
that, the function in TV or film is fairly similar. You’re managing
your talent, making sure the creative is getting nailed, you’re
making your days, staying on budget, on schedule, and being a
therapist for the various artisans who are all working long hours to
make their output look good. Leadership skills are probably the
most important, because you’re a fireman on set.
You want to keep
the kindling out of sight, but know that a backdraft can whip up at
any moment and you need to jump on it. Doing that, while keeping
everyone motivated and happy is a challenge. One bad apple can really
spoil the barrel, so you have to learn to identify that and address
it quickly. When it’s all over, you become a circus barker.
Marketing marketing marketing.
The windows for film and TV are so short these days, that if you don’t reach your audience above the noise, no one will even know about it. That’s another challenge in itself… just trying to reach your people and let them know there’s a story for them, and that they should watch it over the other available choices.
Norm: Do you believe that often times the role of the producer is overlooked by the public and if so, why?
Terence: I don’t think it’s
overlooked, but rather misunderstood. I think most think the producer
is the wealthy guy with the cigar, smoking in an ivory tower
That image from the genesis of the studio system has never really left. But it doesn’t exist and isn’t accurate. Most producers are really hard-working “moms” who need to take care of their children on a field trip. Whenever I met someone in other industries who is resourceful, thinks quick on their feet, and focuses on solutions rather than problems, I know they’d make a good producer. If they can do that while understanding story structure, group morale and motivation, and the politics of collaboration, then they’ll make a great producer.
Norm: At what point do you divorce yourself from a project and say I am over and done with this project?
Terence: When I’m no longer enjoying the process. I have to enjoy the daily function of what I’m doing or it’s no longer fun. I can’t delay my gratification for a future that may never arrive. So when the process of pounding the pavement and getting lackluster results is too prevalent, I move on. I put this in the “life is too short” category. This was something I had to learn along the Hero’s Journey as well. It was an enemy of mine for years, focusing too much on a future that didn’t arrive.
Norm: What motivated you to write PRODUCE YOURSELF?
Terence: On set, there’s a lot of
waiting for lights, props, and everything technical to get into place
before we’re actually shooting. For that reason, I often found
myself talking to various crew members about everything from buying
homes, what to invest in, and (unfortunately) more often than not…
how to make ends meet in between shows.
As freelancers (95% of Hollywood), almost everyone has a side-hustle and other entrepreneurial pursuits. But rarely is anyone as effectual as they can be. Having gone to business school, I saw what my colleagues were doing right, but also wrong. And this book became a growth from those problems. What seemed obvious to me was completely foreign to them. And although this book is not a business book, a lot of the principles and applications work for finances and growing wealth.
Terence: In a nutshell, it’s a
peak performance book for your pursuits. Whether it be habits, goals,
your purpose, or your “why,” the book gives a clear structure
(The Hero’s Journey) to getting there, but with principles of
optimization I’ve learned on my own journey. Structurally, I
take the reader through my own career, all 12 stages, and reveal the
lessons I’ve learned.
A lot of them apply to finances. But many apply to happiness, success, relationships, career, side-hustles, real estate, etc. On one hand, it’s a personal growth or self-improvement book. But on the other hand, it’s a manual for how to get from here to there. And I draw upon a lot of movie and TV examples to compare the journey of those on-screen heroes with ourselves.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your book serves and what matters to you about the book?
Terence: It makes the reader think and ponder where they are in life and what they really want out of it. There is a lot of noise today, a lot of distraction. I want this book to help people take inventory of what they really want out of live and help them find the tools to get there.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
Terence: About 6 months of sporadic
writing. I’m only good for about 2 hours a day, if that, so like
many other writers, the majority of my creation came in the night and
times of mediation and contemplation to formulate my thoughts.
writing was actually the easy part. It was figuring out what I really
wanted to say and then letting that flow out my fingers when I
chunked out the time early in the morning.
The most major event was probably realizing that I could structure this by overlaying my own personal journey on top of the iconic Hero’s Journey. That was what kicked my writing into gear. Before that came to me, I started out writing just another life-hacking type book. But that was the wrong approach. I ended up tossing at least a dozen chapters.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Terence: Well, I learned that I
love to write! Sure I “type” all day long. But I’ve never truly
written for pleasure. This book was a pleasure to write.
I have a lot of respect for Authors. I have met tons over the years and get emails from them every day pitching me their books. But I never really thought twice about the solitude and months they have to spend with themselves inside their head thinking. It really is an amazing experience. I’ve started journaling daily because of it — amazing benefits by just writing and getting your thoughts out of your head.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and PRODUCE YOURSELF?
Terence: The book has a FACEBOOK page with lots of updates, videos, links, etc.: http://facebook.com/ProduceYourHero.
I would love for others to follow the page and share their own personal journeys.
Or my personal company WEBSITE
From either of those two places the book can be found on Amazon, Audible, iTunes, etc.
Norm: What is next for Terence Michael?
Terence: I’m working on a new film company with Graham Bradstreet (founder of Working Title Films). Hoping to soon be ramping up development on a huge slate of films. It won’t happen tomorrow. But it’s something I’m passionate about pursuing.
Terence: Ah great interview question! I’m going to steal this for my podcast. But the pro that you are, you covered it!
Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with PRODUCE YOURSELF.
Thank you Norm! It was a pleasure!