From reading a book to now being the company behind that book’s first Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Kolinsky has started to bring Save The Cat! and its collection of books/products to a whole new audience here in New York City and the rest of the United States!
Save The Cat! (www.savethecat.com), which is the trilogy of books by famed Hollywood screenwriter Blake Snyder (who passed away 10 years), helps individuals in all worlds (theater, film, TV, book writing, etc.) get a better understanding of the fundamentals and mechanics of plot, character transformation, and what makes a story work.
The Levity Ball sat down with Jason to find out more about what he is doing to bring forward Blake and Save The Cat’s legacy…
1. To start off, as the Chief Marketing Officer for Save the Cat!, how did you get involved with the company?
Funny enough, I got started with the company after I read the book, Save the Cat! which led me to attend the Save the Cat! Weekend Intensive Workshop to develop an idea I had for a screenplay. What followed was kismet! You see, I had such a fun time during that weekend course that I wanted to become part of the Save the Cat! team. Ironically, I went into the workshop to write my story idea, and I ended up having an idea to help Save the Cat! write their brand story. So, I shared that I had a background in marketing to the instructor and asked if they needed any help. That lead me to become a consultant for a year and that turned to my role as a partner and CMO.
2. Previously you worked with the Verizon Fios account, the Microsoft Cloud business and headed up digital communications for Microsoft and the U.S Army. Why the switch to Save the Cat?!
I have had the good fortune to work with some of the biggest brands and brightest people in marketing. Each brand tells their story so well and the people who work on those brands are so incredibly focused on telling the best possible story of their respective brands. When I came across Save the Cat! I started to use the lessons of Save the Cat! in my day-to-day business, so when the opportunity to become part of the team came up, I jumped at it.
3. For those who may not know, can you tell us about Save the Cat! and why it is so “iconic”?
Great question! Typically, the first question out of the gate is what does Save the Cat! mean or where does the phrase Save the Cat! come from, so let me first explain the origin of the title of the book Save the Cat! “Save the cat” is a scene or a moment in a story where we meet the hero and the hero does something – like saving a cat – that defines who the hero is and what makes us, the audience, get behind and root for that hero. It’s basic and understandable and that’s the magic of the book. You see, Blake Snyder, the author of Save the Cat! believed that storytelling, while complicated, doesn’t need to be confusing. He developed a language that makes storytelling understandable. It’s the language of the book that caught fire and revolutionized the industry, making the book so iconic.
4. Were you a fan of Blake Snyder and his works prior to working with the company?
Yes! The book and the classes are what pulled me into Save the Cat! but the stories of the lives he touched made me a fanatic. Blake listed his email in his books and people wrote to him, shared their story ideas, loglines, and beat sheets – he responded to everyone! His love for story and his desire to help was just so evident in everything he had done. As a result, we have embraced Blake’s persona, his enthusiasm, and his goal of uncomplicating an industry built on confusion. That’s what we aim to do every day.
5. What about the trilogy of books and other products separates Save the Cat! from others who may be somewhat similar?
There are some great books out there that are incredibly helpful and valuable to writers. Blake mentions Joseph Campbells’ Hero with a Thousand Faces, Robert McKee and Syd Field among others. We advise writers to embrace all the helpful tools out there. We know every writer is different and they should lean into any and all material they find to be helpful – Blake did! The place we are particularly helpful is the breaking down and plotting of films and novels with the Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet and our take on unique genres which guide writers through the complexities of storytelling. The language of Save the Cat! serves the writer when developing their story and just as importantly serves the writer when explaining their story to another writer, a family member, or a studio executive. Our language helps turn an idea into a story that can be shared.
6. What piece of advice of Blake’s really resonates most with you personally?
“The worst thing that can happen in screenwriting is not to finish. Half-written screenplays never sell” This means so much on so many levels – finish what you start, so that you can move forward!
7. With you now on board, what does the future for Save the Cat! hold?
That’s a great question. The way I think of the future of Save the Cat! is that Blake left behind much more than a book. He left behind a mission. In a sea of storytelling complexities, we are the lighthouse shining clarity through the choppy waves of confusion. To bring the brand promise to life we launched our latest best-selling book “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel,” written by Jessica Brody, to help novelists develop their story. We also released the latest version of Save the Cat! Story Structure Software to help writers plot out and organize their story, and we are set to kick off year 2 of the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge this October.
8. How is the company celebrating Blake’s life and work on what is now the 10th year since his sudden passing?
Blake’s life has meant so much to so many. We are taking the year to share tributes of Blake, reflecting with friends and family and planning fresh initiatives that serve his legacy and mission.
9. You are based in New York: On a personal side, when you aren’t working, what things in and around NYC do you like to do?
I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in New York – first in the suburbs of Long Island, where as a teenager I use to take the Long Island Railroad to sneak into the city and get into all sorts of trouble. Now that I’ve been living here for over 10 years – I’m most attracted to the hustle of the city and taking part in its creative culture – I’m a big fan of the Improv community and take classes at the People’s Improv Theatre. I’d suggest to any writer to take classes and attend the shows whenever possible. I also love food; I don’t know of a place that does unhealthy food better than New York. If you need to know where the best cookies, best pizza, burgers, and doughnuts are, I’m your guy. And to help keep all that in check I’m an avid runner – nothing like running on the Westside Highway!
10. Years down the road, what would you personally like people to remember you for and Save The Cat! for?
Helping people write the best and most compelling story they can – while having fun doing it.