Dean Lorey is an Emmy-nominated writer/producer of TV and movies, including Arrested Development, Major Payne, Friday the 13th part 9, and many more. He’s also the Author and publisher of Romance for Men and Fitness Confidential.
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Worst Entrepreneur moment
- Dean’s worst Entrepreneurial moment includes Danny Devito and stretchy arms… you’ll have to listen in for this one! :-)
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Do Work. Do good work. Do bad work. Do Work.
What are you FIRED up about?
Small Business Resource
- IMDb: Movies, TV and Celebrities
Best Business Book
- Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich and Dean Lorey
- On Writing by Stephen King
Interviewer: Yeah, I’m prepared to ignite. I love it. Dean is an Emmy nominated writer/producer of TV and movies including Arrested Development, Major Payne, Friday the 13th part nine, and many more. He’s also the author and publisher of Romance for Men and Fitness Confidential. Dean, say what’s at the Fire Nation and let us know what’s going on in your world.
Dean: Well, I’ve just been real busy. I’ve always got a bunch of projects going on. Right now, I’ve got two books out: Romance for Men and Fitness Confidential. I’m getting ready to publish the sequel to Fitness Confidential. Then, I also do a bunch of TV and movie stuff. I have a movie right now that’s in production, an animated movie called Animal Crackers that I co-wrote. It’s a relatively low budget animated movie. It’s only like $15,000,000.00 which is cheap. Usually, those are over 100, but it’s got a great, great cast. We have John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Ian McKellen, Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, and Raven Symone.
So we’ve got this great cast. We’re in the process of recording the actors now. The animation is going to happen in Spain. Then, I’m right now in the process of writing a pilot for FX Network that’s an animated pilot based on my book Romance for Men. I’m doing that with Adam Reed who is the creator and show runner of Archer which is a great animated show on FX.
Interviewer: Love Archer.
Dean: Archer is great. He’s a great guy. He and his partner, Matt Thompson, they have this – actually, you should talk to those guys. They have an animation studio that they own in Atlanta. That studio does all the animation for Archer and the shows that they produce. So it’s kind of a great set up. It’s really cool. They’re nice guys. So they’re my producing partners. I mean, I’m writing it and running it, but I will use their studio. They’re great guys. So those are the things I’m sort of mostly involved in right now.
Interviewer: See, this is some pretty cool stuff and a lot of stuff. That’s why I was really excited to bring you on, Dean, to Entrepreneur on Fire because we’re going to be coming at things in a pretty cool and fresh angle. You have just done some incredibly cool things. I just love everything you bring to the mix. One question I did have just because I’ve always been curious. When it comes to animated movies versus not, I feel like you might have some insight to this. I’d love to hear it if you do. To me, for an actor to be in an actual movie where there’s not animation there’s make up, scenes, having to get dressed, doing all these different things.
There’s a lot of pros to that. They get paid a lot of money. Then for the animated movies just doing voice over, I’m just kind of picturing them like me and probably you right now maybe wearing pants or maybe not. Just having fun like just doing their voice into a microphone but not much more. It’s kind of laid back and more chill, what’s the reality there? Is there a draw for these actors and actresses that really have those voices to do these animation films because there’s just a lot more flexibility? What’s the deal with that?
Dean: Yeah. I think if you were to talk to regular actors who also do voice work for animation what the appeal is to them, I think the answer would be sweatpants. It’s exactly what you were saying. There’s such drama and such a deal that goes into getting makeup. You’ve got to wake up early. Here, they literally just roll in in sweatpants and t-shirt. In fact, I think they actually go out of their way to dress really crappy just because they can. They come in and it’s very relaxed. It’s fun. It’s only, you know, you’re talking two to four hours in a session. Then, they’re done for the day.
So it’s just a great gig if you’re an actor. We try to make it a lot of fun and all of that. So I’ve done a lot of both. I did many live action movies and TV shows. Animation is relatively new for me. I mean, this is the first animated movie that I’ve done. Romance for Men, the animated thing at FX, that’s the first animated TV show I’ve done. So this is all kind of new for me, but I really like the process. I like both. I like being on a set and dealing with shooting and all that. But I also enjoy animation which is a little bit more laid back in a way.
Interviewer: So I’m really excited to hear some stories from your journey because you just have the gift for gab. You really have done a lot of things. You’ve seen a lot of things. But first, I do want to take a minute and do what I call the one minute mindset which is five insights into your mind. It’s just a fascinating one, Dean.
Dean: Okay. I only have four insights.
Interviewer: Okay. I just crossed one off the list. So we’re okay now. Ideally, Dean, what are the first 80 minutes of your day look like?
Dean: Oddly enough, I like to get up and write. So typically what I’ll do is get up, get some coffee because I’m desperate to get started. Then, I’ll sit down and I’ll usually go over the previous day’s work whatever that is. Usually it’s a script. I’ll kind of rewrite the pages that I wrote the previous day which is a little bit easier than writing original material. I’ll do that for an hour or two hours, something like that. Then at that point, I’ll sort of get showered and get dressed and begin the day. That usually involves going into the office at some point. Then, there’s meetings and things like that.
I really like that early morning time to get some writing done because that’s when things are quiet. It’s when I’m most relaxed because it feels … in a weird way, it’s like doing voice over work for animation. I’m just in my sweats and just relaxed. There’s no pressure on it. So I actually feel like I kind of get the best work done then. So that’s what I usually do in the morning.
Interviewer: So, Dean, what’s your biggest weakness overall as an entrepreneur?
Dean: I think it’s probably taking on too many projects at once. I run into this continually because there’s tons of stuff that I’m interested in. There’s tons of shows I want to do. Then, I have a lot of other ventures that are outside of that. Like I have a business with a friend, Vinnie Tortorich who I did Fitness Confidential with who’s a personal trainer. He and I started a line of vitamins called Pure Vitamin Club. That’s its own separate business that’s actually kind of taking off. It’s great, but that’s in addition to all the other stuff I do. Sometimes I realize there’s just not enough hours in a day, and it becomes a little bit hard for me to focus.
Like there’s just so many things going on that you can get overwhelmed or at least I can. When there’s too many things going on, sometimes I find myself just getting paralyzed. There’s so many things that require attention that I don’t know where to begin. So what I’ve been trying to do is get a little bit better about focusing on the projects that I’m most passionate about and being open to help in sort of organizing my day and focusing.
Interviewer: A side note about the Pure Vitamin Club Fire nation, I’m a proud member. I have a bottle, Dean, on my desk right now.
Dean: Because it works.
Interviewer: Yeah. Last time I talked to you and Vinnie when we were doing some podcast strategy, I was like I’m going to order that. I ordered it. It’s been amazing.
Dean: Oh, that’s great. It’s really been taking off. It was one of those like homespun things that Vinnie had been angry about … the one thing that he believed in are multi-vitamins, but he hated the way that most multi-vitamins have a whole bunch of stuff. So we decided to do this thing. It seemed like impossible. How do you go from just a desire to create vitamins to a company that does create them and gets them out to people?
That was a learning experience. It was like we had to do a lot of work and research. We figured it out. It was fun to do. That was actually, for me, kind of interesting just because it made me realize that you can pretty much do anything as long as you have the desire and will to do it. If you had asked me a year ago if that was a possibility, I would have said I don’t know anything about vitamins. How would I do that?
Interviewer: That could be a whole podcast episode in and of itself. Maybe it should be in six months or so. We’ll get you two on and start talking some statistics and some really inside scoop stuff which will be a blast. So, Dean, what’s your biggest strength?
Dean: Stick-to-it ness. I will keep banging away at a project until there is literally no breath left in it. Like when I’m writing a script, I will write and rewrite and rewrite until either the project is absolutely dead or I get it on the air. That really is something that I just kind of learned by experience because what I found was that the things that you think are going to work are very often the things that do not work. The things that you never imagined had a shot are often the things that go forward. You just don’t know. So I realized that you have to just give every project your full attention and your full effort because you don’t know what will work.
Like, for instance, years ago I wrote this movie called Major Payne. It was written for Universal. From the start, it was designed to star Clint Eastwood. It’s about this very tough major in the military who has to deal with a bunch of kids. It was always designed as a Clint Eastwood movie. Then, I wrote a few drafts of it. I got a call from the studio, Universal. They said great news. We got the star. I said, oh, my God. We got Clint Eastwood. They said, no. It’s going to be Damon Wayans. I said, what? Like I couldn’t think of anybody less like Clint Eastwood than Damon Wayans, who I did not know at the time. So I was a little resistant initially.
Then, I met with him; we became friends. I did a rewrite and all of that. That was one of those things where I just realized like you just never know. At that point, I could have quit and said we talked about Clint Eastwood. I don’t want to go down this path. We ended up making a movie that I’m actually really proud of now. It was a very fun movie to do. It’s funny and has lead kind of a long life on video. But that was really just a question of going okay. This isn’t what I was expecting, but let me follow this path. It ended up being right.
Interviewer: It’s actually the reason why I joined the Army. I’m not going to lie.
Interviewer: Well, it had something to do with it. I will say that it was something I definitely grew up with as a movie that I look very fondly back upon. Dean, it’s just an example of you having all these irons in the fire. So I’m going to kind of hold your feet to the fire now and ask you the one thing that has you the most fired up right now.
Dean: You know, I bet it’s Romance for Men. It’s probably because it’s a book I wrote. I published it. It got a lot of attention because there were a ton of celebrities that read it and loved it and blurbed it. So that was big. Now that it’s moving forward at FX as an animated show, I’m just excited about it because it was a very, very homespun project. From the book to the show and all of that. It just feels, I don’t know, it just feels like a very handmade thing. So I’m very excited about that. Oddly enough, I’m excited about Pure Vitamin Club just because it’s like such a different thing that, I guess, exercises a different muscle for me. So that’s fun too.
Dean: But it’s probably Romance for Men right now.
Interviewer: I hear you. Let’s be honest. I mean, you know this being in the movie business with royalties and such, but for entrepreneurs, give me some of that recurring revenue please. Like not a bad thing. So, Dean, you know how to write stories. You also know how to tell stories. I mean, you’re not one of those writers that the minute they open their mouth you’re like, oh, my God, they actually wrote that? That’s so weird. No, you can talk the talk too. So what I want you to do is to do just that with a story. But this is your story of what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment. So, Dean, take us there real time and really share that moment with us.
Dean: All right. I will tell you a story. This was from many years ago. This may be 15 years ago. Disney wanted to make a movie based on Stretch Armstrong, you know, the toy Stretch Armstrong. So they had the rights to it. Danny DeVito was going to star in Stretch Armstrong for Disney. I had a great pitch. I was so excited about it. It was going to be Danny was a cat burglar, but he was a terrible cat burglar because he was short. He couldn’t climb fences. He couldn’t get into places and all that. So through a series of things, he ends up getting stretchy. So now, he can slide underneath doors. He becomes this sort of great cat burglar.
In addition to that, he stretches himself out from whatever height and sort of dimensions he is right now to being like a 6’2” guy who’s thin and muscular and all of that. He looks exactly like DeVito, but changes his dimensions. So suddenly, the world opens up to him and all that. So that was the basis of the movie. The head of the studio at the time was so excited about it. I remember they were saying that’s the one sheet. That’s the poster. Danny looking the way he does here, and Danny looking all stretched out the way he does here. That just seemed like really big. So we were really excited. Then, I had to go pitch to Danny DeVito.
It was a very high stress meeting because it was the president of Disney and all these executives and the producers and Danny. I was young at this point. I really was very kind of new to the business. I remember waiting in the lobby to go in and pitch this. Just before we went in, the producer leaned over to me and said, by the way, you can’t pitch any of that stuff about Danny stretching himself and turning into other dimensions. He said Danny is going to be a little sensitive about his height. In addition to that, we don’t have the money in the effects budget to really do any of that stuff. So you can’t pitch any of that. I was in a panic because that was the entire pitch. I didn’t have anything outside of that.
So I was too green then to just say screw it. I’m going to do it anyway. So I panicked and listened to him. So then, I went into this meeting with all this pressure. I started just making up a pitch. I didn’t have a pitch. I don’t know, he’s got a dog. It was terrible. It was the worst pitch that I ever did. I could tell there’s just a chill across the room. There was silence when I finished. The president of Disney turned to Danny and said, Danny, does that sound like something you’d like to do? He smiled and said, no. I was just shattered because this was a big opportunity. I blew it. So what I realized then was you can’t let yourself get thrown by that stuff.
It’s like yeah you’ve got to roll with the punches a little bit, but if you have something that you believe in you should go down swinging basically. You should go in and give it your absolute best shot. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. At least it didn’t work with something you believed in as opposed to something you screwed up. So that was a bad moment for me and a life lesson.
Interviewer: At least it didn’t work with something you believed in. To me, that really sums it up. I mean, Fire nation, if we’re going to go after this or do this thing and be entrepreneurs, let’s go out with a ball of flame. That ball of flame is either going to explode into success or failure. Either way, we’re going to be there at the end with what we believe in if we go forward with that. So, Dean, huge lessons here on so many fronts. Now, I just want to do a little bit of a shift here. You’ve had so many of these aha moments, these lightbulbs, throughout your journey that have turned on. What’s one, if you could just really pull one out, that you know would really resonate with our listeners, with Fire nation, what’s one aha moment that you’ve had? What story is that?
Dean: It’s not to try to plan out the way that your life and career is going to go. Because, again, it sort of goes back to that thing about not knowing what’s going to click and what won’t. What I’ve found over the course of doing a lot of this stuff is that virtually all of the things that I did that ended up working were essentially happy accidents that occurred because I prepared and allowed them to happen. I find that it’s best if you just pursue the things that you’re really passionate about knowing that they may not come to pass but do the work. Then, if you do the work that opens yourself up to good things happening.
So there were so many things that I … like at the very beginning of my career, the very first thing that I ever did I was living in Hoboken, New Jersey with a bunch of guys in an apartment. I had just graduated college. I had written a screenplay called Johnny Zombie that was a comedy about a guy who turns into a zombie and ends up taking this girl to the prom that he always wanted to. It seemed impossible to get that made because, again, I knew nobody. I was living in Hoboken, New Jersey. I just had this script. I would give the script to everybody that I knew in the hopes that somebody would read it and maybe it would get somewhere. This was sort of pre-Internet actually. Now, it’s a lot easier to get stuff around.
Then, you had to like give people copies of things. So I ended up giving it to a friend of mine. This guy, Adam Marcus, who was friends with this guy Noel Cunningham who’s dad was Sean Cunningham who produced and directed the first Friday the 13th movie along with many other movies. Sean read it. He was living in Los Angeles. Sean read it and said I think this is great. I want to make it. I think Disney would want it. He brought it to Disney, and they bought it. They got it made under the title of My Boyfriend’s Back. That only happened because I just kept giving it to people saying take a look at this. Take a look at this. What do you think?
Then essentially through sheer coincidence, it ended up moving forward and getting made. But I think that only happened because I laid the groundwork up front of just trying to get everybody to take – you know, doing the work to begin with to write it and then trying to get everybody I knew to take a look at it. So that’s kind of what I’ve done pretty much for the rest of my career is just do the work up front, get it out to as many people as I can, and hope that something comes of it knowing that probably something won’t and just keep going.
Interviewer: I may be kind of biased, but I kind of like Johnny Zombie.
Dean: Look, my original was much better. The title was much better and my original script was much better I thought. It’s funny because without going into the plot, there was a whole world of zombies that lived in the cemetery. This kid Johnny is the only one that left the cemetery to go to the prom. But the rule was that as soon as you left the cemetery, you begin to decay like a regular zombie. So there was this whole thing going on. So when I got to Disney, I was young. Bear in mind I was probably 22 at this point or 23 maybe. I go to Disney for my very first meeting at Disney to get notes on the script. They sat me down.
They said we love the script. It’s so funny. The first thing we want to do is get rid of the zombies. I said, well, it’s called Johnny Zombie. It’s about all these zombies. Yeah, we just want the one zombie. So right then like literally half the movie got thrown out. They wanted them gone. I did it. Dealing with notes in Hollywood is a dicey proposition because the people giving you notes are the ones with the money. So you have to satisfy them at some level, but you also don’t want to destroy your project. So it’s always a dance.
Interviewer: Yeah, there’s always going to be that balancing act. As entrepreneurs too, I have had vision for what I wanted to create. But what am I going to do? I have to listen to my customers, to my clients, to my fans because the reality is I am making it for them. It is theirs in the end. So even though I have this artistic vision in how I want it to play out, there is a balancing act that always has to happen. Dean, I’m not letting you go anywhere brother because I’ve got some great questions coming up for you in the lightning round. Before we get there, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Dean, welcome to the lightning round where you get to share incredible resources and mind blowing answers. Sound like a plan?
Dean: Well, it sounds like a lot of pressure if I’ve got to come mind blowing answers.
Interviewer: Simply mind blowing. That’s it.
Dean: Okay. Let me put on my mind blowing hat.
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Dean: Fear. Isn’t that true of pretty much everybody? It’s fear of failure. You don’t want to look foolish. Also, fear of saying I’ve never done this before. It’s new to me. I don’t know what to do here. So the path of least resistance is to say I’ll do nothing. So, yeah, I would say fear. Overcoming that is one of the hardest things to do.
Interviewer: Yeah. I really want to emphasize that point of looking foolish. We just have this fear, this terrifying, paralyzing terror of looking foolish. We’ve got to get over that. Who cares how foolish we look? I know it’s innate, but let’s get over that. Dean, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dean: Keep writing, for me. I think that’s applicable to any business. Keep doing whatever you’re doing because the truth is … it’s funny. When I talk to people, they only know my successes, right. They know the shows that were successful or movies or whatever that happen. What people don’t see are the 10 things that I worked on that failed for every one that moved forward. I will often tell people about all of the failures that I’ve had just so you understand that like for me it’s – I think this is true of any professional – your career is mostly failure with a few bright lights.
So it’s largely about keep writing. Just whatever it is no matter how bad it goes you move on to the next thing. Something will click. You work hard and you move forward. Again, keep writing is obviously about screen writing, but I think that attitude is applicable to most professions.
Interviewer: Dean, what’s a personal habit that you have that you believe contributes to your success?
Dean: Good dental hygiene. I don’t know. A personal habit. I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know what my best personal habit is. I know that I felt really good when I finally shaved my bald head. I had that kind of like weird monk’s crown for a long time. It looked kind of funky. Everybody kept encouraging me to just shave it off and go bald. At the time, I was pretty good friends with Damon Wayans who was also bald and about a foot taller than me and a tough looking guy. I was like, geez, if I shave my head bald I’m going to look like mini me next to him.
I don’t want to do that. It was funny. Just doing that was kind of freeing in a way. I was like, okay. It actually looked a little better. I was like you can sort of make big moves. I know it’s not a habit. I suppose getting enough sleep is probably a good habit, although I struggle with that.
Interviewer: Do you use that special – I’m trying to think – to shave the head. It came out on Kick Start a little while ago that’s just been –
Dean: I know exactly the thing you’re talking about. I don’t. I just use a regular razor. The first time I did it, I was so paranoid because I was like there’s no way that I’m going to be able to do this without cutting my head all up. You have the whole back of your head which you can’t even see. It turns out its really easy. I encourage every one of your listeners to get a razor right now and shave themselves bald. It will open up a whole world for them.
Interviewer: Oh, Dean, Dean, Dean. Do you have an Internet resource like Ever Notes that you can share with our listeners?
Dean: Well, I use the Imdb a lot. I don’t know if you know what that is.
Interviewer: Oh, yeah. Internet database.
Dean: Database, yeah. That’s kind of specific to what I do. It’s a really good resource for – basically what it does is list everybody who works in the entertainment industry and all of their credits and what they’re working on now and all that. A lot of people use that. That’s one of my go to things. I like a lot of the movie sites. I like HitFix. I like Badass Digest. Screenwriter John August has a really good website with a lot of advice that I like to go to. Those are some of the places that I like to visit.
Interviewer: Dean, if you could recommend one book for our listeners to join Romance for Men and Fitness Confidential on the show page, what would it be and why?
Dean: On Writing by Stephen King I think is the finest book about writing that’s been published. There have been a lot of them. It’s a spectacular book. I probably read it five times. It’s a very nuts and bolts book. It talks about, to some extent, things like we don’t even want to think about in terms of writing like grammar and stuff like that. But in a very fun way, it talks about story construction, writing dialogue, creating characters, and all of that. Writing prose. Also what’s really fun about it is it was written by Stephen King.
He started it before – I don’t know if you remember, but he had sort of a catastrophic accident where he got hit by a van that put him in the hospital for months and months and months. He started this book before that accident and then completed it during the recovery after that accident. So he talks quite a bit about that accident and about his life. There’s a lot of personal stuff and how that influences writing. Essentially, he makes a large point in it which I loved which is that writing is not the be all and end all of your life.
That your life is not a support system for writing, but it’s the other way around. You have to live your life. You have to have experiences and do things. Then, you use those in your writing as opposed to just be focused on that and don’t live a life. That was sort of inspiring to me. I love the book. It’s called On Writing. It’s by Stephen King. If you’re at all interested in writing, I highly recommend it.
Interviewer: Well, being a native born Mainer, I always love when someone from Maine gets highlighted on Entrepreneur on Fire. I want to thank you for that, Dean.
Dean: Sure. I didn’t know you were from Maine. But, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah, shout out to Maine. Born and raised south of where Stephen was from. He was from the Bangor area. I was from –
Interviewer: Bangor, Maine. He’s very active in that community. Fire Nation, I know you love audio. So I teamed up with Audible. If you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. Is Romance for Men in audio form, Dean?
Dean: It is in the audio form. You can get it on Audible. In fact, it’s really funny. First of all, I should point out it’s a very funny book; but it’s also super, super dirty. It’s a super R rated book not for kids. The audio book is read by Serena Scott Thomas who is the sister of Kristen Scott Thomas. She’s this very, very proper British woman with a very proper British accent. The book is just filthy. It’s absolutely dirty filthy. To hear her read it in this incredibly prim and proper British accent is hilarious.
Interviewer: You know she’s blushing just throughout.
Dean: She probably is. She probably is.
Interviewer: Well, Dean, this next question is the last question of the lightning round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. You’re food and shelter taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do the next seven days?
Dean: I think I would sell the laptop for $2,000.00. Take the $2,500.00 and go to Vegas and put it on black and see what the hell happens.
Interviewer: And just keep riding it.
Dean: Just keep riding it. Just keep riding it. Then, if I lose it all, it’s probably off a bridge for me.
Interviewer: Hey, your food and shelter are taken care of. So money, you could take it or leave it.
Dean: I don’t know. What do people say? I want to know other people say.
Interviewer: You’re going to have to listen to Entrepreneur on Fire to find that out.
Dean: Okay. Yeah. What I would probably do is I would start a podcast called Entrepreneur in Blazes. Just see if I could steal your audience. Just piggyback off of your success.
Interviewer: That would be amazing. We would be partners in crime. Dean, speaking of in blazes, let’s end today on fire with you sharing one piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Dean: Well, the best way to connect with me is through my website which is just deanlorey.com. D-e-a-n L-o-r-e-y.com. There’s a link to contact me. I get a lot of emails from folks. I always respond even if it takes a little bit. I also have a fan page on Facebook called Meet Dean, D-e-a-n. So you can get a hold of me through there. You can also get a hold of me through … you could go to the Romance for Men website which is just romanceformen.com. Four instead of the number. There’s a lot of information about the book and all that on there. That’s another way to get a hold of me. So I’m pretty gettable.
Interviewer: You are gettable in a good way. In a good way, Fire Nation. Fire Nation, you know this. You’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Dean Lorey and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Dean in the search bar. His show page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Go directly to his site, deanlorey.com. He will respond to your email. He guarantees it. Facebook, obviously. Romancefourmen.com. Dean, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, my friend, we salute you. We’ll catch you on the flipside.
Dean: Thank you very much. I had a great time. I’ll come on any time and talk about whatever you like.
Interviewer: Yes. I’m going to –
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