Teflon Coat Comes in All Sizes

Anyone who's been in this business for a while or any how to make it book you pick up will tell you that if you're going to work in this industry, you've got to develop a thick skin. Linda Buzzell (author of How To Make It In Hollywood) calls it rhino skin. For the sake of being different, I'll call it a Teflon coat. It's guaranteed to keep anything negative from sticking. As exciting and fun and rewarding as this line of work can be, none of us is immune to some measure of rejection,...

Willingness and an Ability to Play the Game

A few summers ago, I started my new USC course with the same lecture I always give during the first class. It included the best and the worst aspects of the business, misconceptions most students have before beginning their careers and what they're realistically getting themselves into. The next day I received an e-mail from one of the students informing me that she was dropping out of the class. After that one lecture, she had decided to cut her losses, because she didn't think she had what it...

Winning Attitude

Someone with a winning attitude knows how to say No problem , moves with a sense of urgency and a can do spirit, doesn't whine or complain, treats others with respect, checks his ego at the door, is accessible, reliable, a team player and is always willing to help out. He gives more than what's expected and is a pleasure to have around. These are characteristics that should become ingrained in your personality and never abandoned no matter how high up the ladder you reach. It's one more element...

Accepting Boundaries

On a movie for television I once worked on, I was asked to hire the wife of the producer's friend (who also happened to be a producer) to assist me. After having established a career in another business, she had taken several years off to stay home and raise her children. This was her first job back in the work force, and she was more than eager to jump into the thick of things. Let's call her Jane. Anyway, Jane was a take-charge kind of person used to making decisions and giving orders, which...

As In Life This Industry Is Not Fair

No one ever said that being in this business would be easy but if you didn't already know this, let me be the first to tell you that as in life (in general), it isn't always fair either. It's not fair that some wonderfully brilliant scripts remain lost among stacks of screenplays lining the shelves, floors and hallways of agencies, production company development offices and studios while yet one more inarticulate, blow-em-up, car-chasing, body-slamming, overly graphic, foul-languaged,...

Attend Film School or Jump Right In

This is a question I'm often asked, and there is no right or wrong answer. I never attended film school but can see the advantages gained by those who have. Can you make it big without film school Absolutely. Can you go to film school and then not succeed in the biz Absolutely. This is a very personal choice. Film school can be quite costly, but it provides a broad, well-rounded understanding of the industry, as it focuses on film history and theory as well as the teaching of many different...

Basic Job Responsibilities

When you start in an entry-level position, whether it's in a mail-room, at an agency desk, a studio, post production facility, production office, casting office, network or any other industry-related company, the following are some of the tasks you will most likely be asked to do Answer phones and keep a phone log. Place phone calls for your supervisor (this is often called rolling calls, because the assistant is expected to start lining up the next call as his boss is winding down the previous...

Be Bold and Mighty Forces Will Come To Your

Attributed to the German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), I first heard this quote from Anthony Hopkins, who was appearing in an episode of Inside The Actors Studio. He was answering a question from a student in the audience, and he said he keeps this quote in mind when plagued by self doubt or up against a daunting challenge. John Wayne had another good quote with a similar message. He said, Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway. In other words,...

Becoming Indispensable

No matter what you're asked to do, do it willingly and with a smile. Be a can do type of person and the first to say, No problem, I'll take care of that for you Be the best gofer, receptionist, photocopier, mail-sorter, lunch-getter anyone's ever seen. Give it your all. Do more than anyone would possibly expect of you. Follow through When asked to do a task, let your supervisor know when it's been completed (before he asks you). If you can't get to that task right away (for whatever reason),...

Becoming One with Your Material

Before you can sell your project to anyone, you have to know it intimately yourself the story, the characters, the setting. If it's based on reality, know the history behind the story. Do your research and be ready to answer questions that are bound to come your way. Be able to explain what it is that makes this project unique and compelling. Be able to convey the irony, the humor, the conflict and the heart of the story. If you're not excited about what you're selling, how can you expect a...

Being a Big Fish in a Small Market or a Small Fish In a Large Market

Most major feature films and TV productions originate from either Los Angeles or New York, where thousands of people are capable of filling the same job and there are never enough jobs to go around. And while the actual locations for these shows could be just about anywhere in the world, when shooting remains in the U.S., the cast and most key crew positions are almost always hired from the show's home base. In general, only support crew, bit acting parts and extras are hired locally. The only...

Being Able to Ask for What You Want

Since few of us have ESP, it helps if you can be specific about what you need help with. My entire job search approach improved once I learned how to ask friends, contacts and previous employers to help me get meetings with individuals I didn't yet know (people they knew), so I could personally introduce myself and make new connections. Until I was urged to be more explicit when asking for help, I would have been too uncomfortable taking what I thought was such a forward approach. A busy...

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Having a goal and a plan is powerful, but let me add one more ingredient into this potent mix, and that is making sure you're prepared for the opportunities that come your way. I'm sure you've heard the expression, Something good is going to happen. I can feel it. It's just around the corner. To that I say, If you place yourself at the right intersection, you're more likely to be in the right spot when luck gets there. You have to be ready for the breaks that come your way, even if they don't...

Beware Warning Bumpy Road Ahead

While most entry-level jobs are synonymous with an industry-style boot camp, the regimen takes some getting used to and the experience may not be quite what you expected. They can also be challenging and exciting times that present you with a whole new world of possibilities. And most of the individuals you'll be working with and reporting to, while expecting a lot, are decent people. Not all will have enough time to thoroughly train you, but some will assign their underlings to train you, and...

Commercials

Similar to television and feature production in many ways, commercial production is also very much a world unto itself. While there are individuals who have the ability to jump back and forth between the two realms, many choose to build their entire careers within this fast-moving industry. Production schedules are much shorter, crews are smaller and salaries are generally higher. The paperwork is similar yet different, and instead of studios and networks, you're dealing with advertising...

Cons From the Pros

Ever since they found out that Lassie was a boy, the public has believed the worst about Hollywood. Groucho Marx The following are the answers I received to the question, To you, what is the worst thing about working in this business The insecurity of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. You can have a tremendous success one day, but then worry about what's next when you'll be able to practice your craft again. The politics. Because art is so intangible, this industry becomes fertile ground...

Donning a Teflon Coat

Unless you are very lucky, you will undoubtedly encounter your share of shark-like creatures, disappointment and rejection upon entering Tinseltown. Unfortunately, there is no inoculation you can take that will keep you immune from the worst aspects of the industry. So you have to find some way of developing a thick skin, like imagining yourself draped in a coat made of Teflon that repels all the bad stuff and keeps it from sticking. The purpose of the coat is to protect your self-esteem,...

Dont Count Those Chickens Just

There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.' Carrie Fisher I'm sure you've heard the expression, Don't count your chickens until they've hatched. Well, that's never been more true than as it Having an agent doesn't mean the agent will line up work for you. Having the most wonderful project in the world doesn't mean it will ever sell. Getting a part in a movie doesn't mean you won't end up on the cutting room floor. Having a producer, actor,...

Eves Recipe for Success

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney A sincere love of the business. An array of well-developed people skills. One large network, along with a vast collection of solid industry relationships. Huge portions of assertiveness and chutzpah. Heaps of inspiration and creativity. A plethora of determination. A willingness to start at the bottom and pay your dues. An abundance of hard work mixed together with a can do philosophy. An impressive knowledge of the...

Features Vs Television

I'm sad to report the existence of some poor misguided individuals who look down on those who work in television with a sense of superiority, because they themselves have made it in features (and most likely big studio features). But if they'd ever worked in television themselves, they'd know how wrong they are. If you do well in television, you'll do well in features, because it's a great place to perfect your craft and learn to work quicker, more effectively and more resourcefully. Television...

Finding a Mentor

I've never known anyone to jump out of bed in the morning and announce to everyone he sees that day that he's decided to become a mentor. Nor have I ever seen an ad in the trades placed by an individual looking for someone to mentor. It's not something most people actively seek, although I personally know several individuals who have thought about how nice it would be to mentor someone just starting out in the industry. The thing is, they rarely get past the thinking-about-it stage. But when...

Follow Up after Your Interview

An important part of making a connection with someone new is going to be your ability to maintain that connection. A good first step would be to send a handwritten note on a nice card, thanking the person you met for her time (and possibly for her advice and or help). Consider writing your note on a unique-looking card. If it's special enough, it might get saved. I use photographic cards I make myself, and people tell me all the time that they can't throw them away. And when left out on...

Get It in Writing

Protect yourself by making sure all partnerships, deals, options and decisions are backed up in writing, and preferably with the help (or at least the scrutiny) of an entertainment attorney. Most people you're going to be dealing with have the most honorable of intentions but not all of them. Besides, minds get changed, misunderstandings occur, finances run out and grievances, lawsuits and insurance claims are filed every day. When you start a new job, make sure you have a deal memo, even if...

Get Real

When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation ,' I say, 'Your salary.' Alfred Hitchcock My friend Andrea has a beautiful daughter named Erin, and when Erin was a little girl, she had aspirations of becoming a movie star. I remember asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She had it all figured out. She didn't just say she wanted to be an actress. She wanted to be a movie star with one home in Beverly...

Getting Past the Gatekeepers

Your career will move at a snail's pace, if at all, if you're the type who sits at home waiting for the phone to ring. You also can't rely on the hope that if you send out resumes, someone will see it, be impressed and call to invite you over for an interview. That could happen, but if I were you, I wouldn't hold my breath. If you want to meet specific people and want them to know who you are, one of the best ways to make that happen is to take the initiative. Set up the meetings yourself. It's...

Getting Through the Next Door

Montgomery Clift (from the movie Once you've gotten your foot into Door 1, you can't stop there. Looking for work, keeping up contacts, continuing to learn, networking and continuously creating new industry relationships is a job in itself, and for as long as you're going to be in this business it never ends.

Having an Agent

Only once you've worked your way up the ladder a bit, have scored big at a film festival, sold a script or been offered a terrific deal or position, do you have enough credibility to seek the representation of an agent. This is a classic Catch-22 situation if there ever was one, because it's so much more difficult to establish yourself without the help of an agent, yet you're not likely to attract agency representation without having first established some amount of credibility and success. As...

Hollywood Drive

What It Takes to Break In, Hang In & Make It in the Entertainment Industry AMSTERDAM BOSTON HEIDELBERG LONDON NEW YORK OXFORD PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Acquisition Editor Elinor Actipis Project Manager Kristin Macek Assistant Editor Cara Anderson Marketing Manager Mark Hughes Cover Design William Harrold Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA Linacre House, Jordan Hill,...

Hollywood Means Business Know Why Youre Here

For most of us, getting into this industry is a dream come true. If you can establish yourself and can make a decent living at it, consider yourself lucky to be working at what you love. But not everyone makes it, and you have to know when it's not right for you, in spite of your dreams. Honestly ask yourself Can I handle the instability Am I up for the constant networking Do I have the endurance to work extremely long hours (while under constant pressure) Can I deal with other people's tempers...

Independents Vs Studio Films

If you choose to freelance when first starting out, it might be easier for you to find work on smaller independent films. Many independents are non-union, and because the salaries and required levels of experience tend to be lower than on traditional studio union shoots, it's a more plentiful source of employment. And working on non-union films will give you more hands-on experience, because they're not governed by union and guild restrictions limiting what each person in each position is...

International Distribution

I find this end of the business fascinating, and it's the perfect career for a movie lover who's always wanted to be a diplomat or get involved with some form of international relations. A foreign sales company or the international department of a studio or distribution company is responsible for the international launch festival participation of a film along with the marketing, sales, delivery and collection of the film, television and video productions (titles) it represents. If you were to...

Interviews and Meetings

The first nine are, thou shalt not bore. The tenth is, thou shalt have the right of final cut. Billy Wilder Whether the outcome is a job, and whether the setting is a formal office or informal get-together for coffee, the goal of any interview is to make a connection with the person you're meeting. By making a lasting impression as well as an effort to stay in touch, there's a good chance this person will hire you in the future (or recommend you to others). He will...

It Only Takes

Everyone told me to pass on Speed because it was a 'bus movie.' Sandra Bullock I'm sure you've heard stories about certain projects being out there for five or ten years before being made, and I've no doubt they're all true. If you're convinced you have a great project and it needs to be made, then don't give up. Don't take no for an answer. Sometimes the good ones end up getting buried on a dusty shelf somewhere just because the writer or producer gave up after the third or fifth pass. They...

Its Also What You Know about the Industry

If this business is going to be your life's work, then learn as much about it as you can. You should be reading the trade papers (Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) and other industry publications and websites whenever possible. Know who's who, who's popular, who just started his own production company, what types of movies are currently the rage, who are the newest up-and-coming actors on the scene, what television shows are getting the best ratings. Know the vocabulary, who the power...

Its Crowded at the

Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder. William Faulkner The climb to the top of the proverbial ladder is different for everyone. Some make it faster than others, and many never make it at all. Having connections definitely helps so does a savvy understanding of how the game is played, an I'll-do-whatever-it-takes attitude and a lot of hard work. And sometimes the ability to climb that last rung is merely a result of being in the right place at the...

Its Not a Business for Sissies

This can be a pretty rough business, and you can't afford to be too delicate or sensitive, nor too easily offended. I believe in political correctness and am fervently against sexual harassment, discrimination and abusive language and behavior, but I know people who take offense at the drop of a hat, and they create almost as many issues as do the true offenders. This is a huggy-kissy-touchy business. While not always sincere, a hug or a kiss alongside the cheek (or an air kiss as they're...

Its Who You Know and Who Knows

Some will tell you that the only way to make it in such a competitive industry is to have the right connections, whether it be a relative, a friend or a friend of a relative. You'll hear plenty of stories about the guy who got his job because his brother-in-law is a bigwig agent, a producer who was able to package her project because her best friend is the personal chef of an A-list actor, an actor who got a part because his neighbor was the director or the PA who got his job because he's the...

Keeping Yourself on Track

When it comes to certain aspects in my life, I'm very undisciplined. Sound familiar If you know you need to write so many pages, make so many calls or set up so many meetings each day or each month, and it's not happening, one way to keep yourself on track is by creating a support system for yourself. Get together with a friend or two who are all in similar situations and working toward specific goals. Start by defining your ultimate goals and then brainstorm until you can come up with a...

Key Ingredients to a Successful Career

Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too. Meryl Streep No one can give you an iron-clad, money-back guarantee that once you land your first job, you're going to make it big in this business. But laid out in this chapter are the elements that will give you your best shot at it. Most of what's listed below will be covered more extensively throughout the rest of the book, but here are the key ingredients...

Know Where Youre Going and How Youre Going to Get There

Just wanting to be in the entertainment industry isn't enough. You need to know what you want to do in the industry and which facet of the business is going to be the best fit for you. These are questions only you can answer, but evaluating your responses to the above-listed questions will help. So will realistically researching your career options and soliciting the advice of those who currently occupy the positions you covet. Also keep in mind that you can change your mind at any time. You...

Know Who Youre Answering To

If you end up working in a heavily-populated environment (like a mailroom, production office or on a set), you'll find you have a lot of people telling you what to do or asking you to do things for them. You'll need to address this issue when you get hired, at which time, you'll ask (or be told) whom you will be answering to. It should be no more than two people, and ideally, it will be one individual only. It's totally counter-productive to respond to many, because while everyone thinks his or...

Knowing the Market

Many writers write screenplays based on what they know and create stories that are very personal to them, but they're not necessarily properties that are marketable. Do your research and know your market. Know who you're pitching to and what they're looking for. What type of product does this company produce Who are the producers and directors they generally work with What do they currently have in development, on the air or in release Know what's selling and who best to sell to. Research the...

Learning How to Sell Yourself

My friend Suzanne Lyons is an independent producer and co-founder of Flash Forward Institute, a wonderful organization that helps people jump start their careers. When she lectures, she tells her audience they have to think of themselves as the CEOs of their own companies the premise being that the product your company is selling is you, and if you're not successful at selling your product and aren't out there giving it all you've got, your product won't sell and your company won't survive. So...

Likely Targets

To help you keep all the information you'll be collecting organized, I've created the following two forms for you to use as templates. They're to keep track of the companies and individuals you're targeting as likely prospects. The first form (Likely Targets) can be used to collect information on several companies. The second (Company Profile & Follow-Up) serves the same purpose, but it gives you the opportunity (and more room) to profile one specific company at a time. Fill out as much as...

Making Coffee Instead of Movies

One of the biggest misconceptions people have upon graduating film school or just deciding to get into the entertainment field is that because they are bright, talented and creative and may know how to stage a scene, load a camera or edit a montage, they should be able to land a job as a producer, director, cinematographer, editor, production designer or some other notable position, and that it shouldn't take longer than six months to a year to achieve this worthy goal. It happens that way...

Managing Your Time

Another large part of keeping yourself on track has to do with effective time management skills. Have you ever had one of those days (or several) where you do a little of this and a little of that and don't really get much accomplished All of us have at one time or another, but if it happens too often, you're not using your time as efficiently as you could. If you don't manage your day properly and set boundaries for yourself, your productivity will fly out the window. The trick is to schedule...

Music

This is a part of the business I've had little exposure to but have always imagined it to be extremely creative and rewarding. Wanting to know more, I spent some time talking to Michael Brooks. Michael is currently head of production for Rafelson Media, but the majority of his career has been spent in music. Michael has been a music producer and mixer for much of his career, and he equates this position to that of both a producer and director on a film. The music producer is responsible for...

On the Lookout for Good Material

While there are some companies that will only accept completed screenplays, and some agents who will tell you that you can't sell a project without a script, it's done every day. There are many producers who sell ideas and concepts, backed up often by just a short treatment. Some can sell an idea with just a verbal pitch, and many make very good livings by selling compelling stories they've found in newspapers or magazines. It could be a story heard on the radio, a television magazine show or...

Other Considerations

Another great way to start out in the biz is to work as a non-union extra. Whether you have acting aspirations or just want to see how a set operates, it will give you a good chance to get the lay of the land and to make some contacts. If you've recently moved to a new town (like L.A. or New York) or just graduated from school, this is the best time for you to join a networking organization (and more than one if possible). The more people you meet, the sooner you can start connecting and...

Other Departments

There are many other departments to be found within any given studio, staffed by all manner of vice presidents, directors, managers and assistants. Here are just some of them. Acquisitions This department is responsible for acquiring outside properties for release and distribution projects that may have already been developed, partially packaged, partially or fully financed and may or may not have been completed. Screenplays, rough cuts and finished films are submitted to this department for...

Packaging

You will always increase your chances of selling a project if it's packaged well. Packaging means attaching talent. The higher profile the talent, the better. Development executives who greenlight scripts that don't do well at the box office or in the ratings are not likely to hold on to their jobs for long. Consequently, they're going to be extremely selective about what they buy. Not that anyone has a crystal ball and knows for sure what's going to be a hit, but if they're fairly certain a...

Pitching Tips

After creating a list of potential buyers, plan on pitching first to the company least likely to take your project. You'll benefit from the practice and any notes they might give you. Before going out to pitch, do some research on the buyers you'll be meeting. Be familiar with the type of projects their company has previously done or is developing and on what individual buyers have produced. Bring no more than one or two people to a pitch meeting. Be warm, friendly and professional. (It's okay...

Post Production

Post production is the process of assembling and completing a picture. It begins during pre-production with the preparation of a post production budget and schedule, the lining up of crew and facilities, and the planning of arrangements that must be made for any necessary special processes. Once a film has been edited, the remaining components (inserts, pickup shots, sound effects, foley, music, ADR or looping, titles, opticals and visual effects) are assembled (mixed) to complete the picture....

Post Production Producer

The title of Post Production Producer has been popping up on feature screen credits lately, but it's still a rare occurrence and is generally only given to those who make a significant contribution to a film. Previously, these individuals would have been given an Associate Producer or Post Production Supervisor screen credit. At one time, there was no designation of line producer, only a production manager (or unit production manager or UPM) who performed most of the same functions. Today, a...

Preparing for an Interview

No matter what type of meeting you're having, your preparation will basically be the same. Here's your list. Do your homework on the person you're going to be meeting. If it's an individual, what is her background What type of projects has she worked on What is her reputation Ask friends, and get on the Internet to look her up (www.imdb.com is a good start). And if this person you're about to meet works for a specific company (or studio), know something about the company as well. Who are the...

Production Management

Another sought-after studio department is also referred to as physical production. The higher level titles in this department are similar to those of the creative group. And instead of creative executives, development assistants, story editors and script readers, you might find a Director of Production, any number of production executives and possibly an Executive Production Manager. Titles will vary slightly from studio to studio or production company, but the production exec title seems to be...

Pros From the Pros

The most expensive habit in the world is celluloid, not heroin, and I need a fix every few years. Steven Spielberg The following are the answers I received to the question, To you, what is the best thing about working in this business It's the same feeling I think I'd get from being a novelist or painter. It's the thrill of creating something that will affect someone's mind or make them smile. It's also the camaraderie and the good feelings you get working closely with other people. Getting to...

Reality TV

I don't know if commercials have anything on the frenzied pace of Reality TV. I've only worked on one Reality TV show, which was a 2003 pilot that was never picked up, but I've spent time since then discussing the experience with my friend Matt Kutcher, who's the one who talked me into doing it with him to begin with. The terminology and paperwork were slightly different than what I was used to, and it reminded me of low-budget guerrilla filmmaking, a kind of...

Remembering the Five Ps

Pleasant Letting your affable personality open doors for you. Patient The tolerance needed to get you over the rough spots and through the journey. Positive A winning attitude, and a conviction that you're going to make it. Passionate The motivating force you never want to lose. Persistent Refusing to take no for an answer, and refusing to give up. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will...

Remembering Why You Got Into This Business to Begin With

When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go. Carol Burnett When you were a kid, did you ever take the Universal Studios tour, and as the tram was driving up and down the backlot, fantasize about how incredible it would be to work there one day, to actually belong on that lot or another just like it If you did, you're in good company. And do you remember how alive you felt when you made the decision to go for it and finally started taking steps toward a career in the biz...

Resume Guidelines

Just like with a cover letter, a resume should be professional looking and typed using a simple font on good-quality 8-- x 11 paper. If you can keep it to one page, that's great. It shouldn't be longer than two pages. Again, the people on the receiving end are busy. If it's too long, they won't even bother. If it's not easy to read, they won't read it. If you've misspelled words or names, it's in the trash. And this is not the time to be cute and creative. Just the facts that's all anyone wants...

Reverting to Plan B

Not everyone in the biz is fortunate enough to be able to climb progressively, one step at a time, up the ladder of success. Some of us find it necessary to take a step or two down, or sideways, before starting back up again. It's rarely preferable that way, but sometimes necessary. If you're flexible, willing to take a lesser position or slightly change directions without resentfully feeling above it all, it could prove worthwhile, because you never know what you're going to find or who you're...

Scripts Scripts and More Scripts

If you're not a writer but a producer who's searching for good, completed screenplays you'd like to option and attempt to sell, just start putting the word out that you're looking, and don't forget to state the genres you're interested in (or you'll be overloaded with submissions). Let your friends know, your relatives, the people you went to school with, people you meet at networking functions, find the appropriate websites to post on, take out a small ad in a trade publication or...

Some Other Interesting Choices

If the career you have chosen has some unexpected inconvenience, console yourself by reflecting that no career is without them. Jane Fonda This chapter will offer you some additional diverse and fascinating career choices, which I describe with the help of some friends and colleagues. This may seem like an arbitrary list, and I suppose it is. But then again, I can't provide you with information on every job that's out there. There are hundreds. This is just a sampling of some of the careers I...

Standing Out Among the Crowd

If you don't stand out, you'll get lost in the crowd. With all the thousands and thousands of people vying for the same positions, you have to figure out what it is that makes you special, and then capitalize on it. Why should someone choose to help or hire you instead of one of the others standing in the same long line waiting to get their feet in the same door Perhaps you have a distinguished background and can offer much needed experience you're fabulous at pitching and selling you're...

Studio Operations and Administration

My friend Jack Kindberg didn't start out with the goal of running a major motion picture studio nor is it a part of the business one would traditionally go to film school to pursue. Jack just fell into it, and for the past several years, he's been President of Studio Operations and Administration for Sony Pictures Entertainment. He's been managing film lots for several years now first the smaller Culver Studios, then both Sony and Culver and now just Sony. He's good at it and enjoys what he...

Swimming with Sharks

Once I started teaching my USC summer class, I found myself talking a great deal about the benefits of networking and schmoozing. I'd also listen to the guest speakers I'd bring in who, unsolicited, would reiterate and emphasize the significance of networking from their own perspectives. I would routinely have students do research on networking organizations and always stressed how important it is for them to keep in touch, because they are each other's first network. For the students who would...

Taking This Route to Become a Producer

For those of you who want to be producers and don't want to start in a typical entry-level position, for those who have been in the business for a while and want to move into producing, and for those who have an alternate source of income to see yourself through until your first sale is made this is a good way to go First and foremost, you need to have found and secured some good material. Next, you have to know the market who the buyers are, what they're looking for, how to reach them, what's...

The Cultivation and Maintenance of Contacts

Not all your industry relationships will be the same. Some will become life-long friends, and others will remain as just co-workers and casual acquaintances. Some may function as mentors others will be individuals you choose to mentor. And many will become the source of valuable help, advice and support throughout your entire career. No matter how close you are, how well you know someone or how often you see him, industry relationships are like gold, and it's essential that you protect your...

The Educator

Educating future filmmakers is a part of the business I thought little of before I became an instructor. In fact, before I started teaching, I wouldn't have even considered it part of the business. But it definitely is. One evening over dinner, I had a chance to discuss it with Duke Underwood, who teaches at USC's School of Cinema-Television and is also the creator and director of the summer program there. When he's not at school, he manages to squeeze in a few months each year to work on his...

The FollowUp

If you've sent in a resume, you'll want to verify that it's been received. If you've ended your cover letter with, I'll call your office within the next few days to see if I may set up an appointment to meet with you, you've got to follow through. Call back in a few days, no longer than a week, and be prepared for what you might encounter on the other end of the phone. The people you're calling and their assistants and receptionists get tons of these calls each day from individuals just like...

The General Information Meeting

This is one of the very best (and most rewarding) aspects of the classes and seminars I teach. Once my students understand what a general information meeting is, how it works, how valuable it is and that they're capable of setting one up (on their own), it changes everything. It's as if I've handed them a magic key that will unlock countless numbers of doors, each representing a new possibility. This is a meeting you ask for. This is a way you can take your career into your own hands and create...

The Giving Part of Networking

No matter where you are in your career, and even if you don't know enough people to start your own e-mail networking list, you can always find something of yourself to give to others. If you're a computer whiz and someone you know is having a computer problem, offer to help. If you hear of a job opening that isn't right for you but might be right for someone else, pass on the lead. If you hear of a seminar or a networking event you think a friend or classmate might get a lot out of, forward the...

The How To Part of Networking

Every summer as my USC course winds down, I ask for suggestions as to what I could do the following summer that would make the class better. A couple summers ago, a student of mine named Andy Stoll said that throughout the course I stressed how vital it is for them to network, stay in touch and continually meet new people, but beyond the steps needed to set up a general information meeting, I didn't go into enough detail as to how to network. I realized Andy was right. Knowing it's important...

The Less Glamorous Aspects

Networking, schmoozing, selling yourself and lining up future jobs is a full-time job in itself that never ends. (You have to keep it up even when working.) It's hard work, time-consuming, expensive (lunches, event fees, gifts, cards, etc.) and often-discouraging. If you think you can get by on your talent alone or that you shouldn't have to dance the dance you're going to have a hard go of it. When you're on a show, you'll be working such long hours and will be away from home so much, your...

The Majors

The top major studios include Sony Pictures (which owns Columbia and has just purchased MGM UA), 20th Century-Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and Paramount. Major independent production companies include such high-profile and prolific producers as DreamWorks SKG, Imagine Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Mandalay and New Line Cinema. They're all structured a little differently yet share many commonalities. While the studios finance the films they release, they don't...

The Many Faces of a Producer

I started this chapter by implying that I was going to introduce you to career options other than producing, directing, writing and acting, and now here I am bringing up the topic of producers. The thing is, few people really understand what producers do or that there are many different types of producers, so I thought the topic deserved some attention. This next section might be a bit confusing, but believe me, it's not easy to explain either. On a feature film, there will...

The No Ones EverGoingToHireMeAgain Syndrome

For those of us who freelance, we're always relieved when the current project we're on has wrapped, because by then, we're drained physically and emotionally. But once you rest up and catch up on all the personal things you didn't have time to do while on the show, panic generally starts setting in if you don't have another project lined up within a month or two. Or maybe you worked on a show, you know you did a good job, but the producer isn't hiring you back again on his next picture (even...

The Production Office

For those working on a specific film or TV show, this is where it all starts. Casts and crews and vehicles and equipment don't magically appear at a designated location site on a specific day at an exact time and start unloading, rigging, setting up, dressing, rehearsing, lighting and shooting unless a team of people seeing to every little detail makes it all possible. The office could be set up on a major studio lot, in a high-rise, in an old warehouse, a bungalow, a trailer, a mobile home, a...

The Recommendation of Others

Nothing gets you in someone's door faster than a referral from (or connection to) someone they know. When a prospective employer reads your cover letter, and it states that someone she knows recommended you contact her or when a potential employer reads your resume and is acquainted with an individual you've listed as a supervisor or reference, your credibility quotient will instantly go up a notch or two. Those in a position to hire will always rely on the recommendations of people they know...

The Resume

People outside of key entertainment industry markets often have misconceptions about how to write an entertainment-related resume and misconceptions about the industry itself. The perception outside of Hollywood is that the entertainment industry is glamorous and high paying. While this is true when it comes to a handful of top executives and performers, for the most part, it is an industry driven more by passion for the creative arts than by working conditions or pay. Where this relates to...

The Resume Pile

Studios, networks, production companies, agencies anyone doing business in the entertainment industry collectively receives hundreds of thousands of resumes each year. And while there are times when having a well-written and professional-looking cover letter and resume is absolutely necessary, because this is unlike any other business, rarely will sending a resume to someone who doesn't know you (or know someone who knows you) result in a job. For the most part, you'll be lucky if submitting...

The Script Doctor

A script doctor is also referred to as a script consultant or script editor. It's someone who reads other people's screenplays and assists in fixing them, so they're ready to take out and shop. Fixing a script generally entails identifying inconsistencies in characters and dialogue making sure the story stays on track and flows properly making sure it's formatted, punctuated and spelled properly and that it works. A script doctor will charge by the page (and sometimes by the hour) to tell you...

The Word According to

No matter how insignificant your job or position may seem at the time, think of it this way the TV or filmmaking process is like assembling a large jigsaw puzzle, where many small little pieces and some larger pieces (each representing a person or element involved in the production) slowly come together to form a complete picture. Each piece, no matter how minuscule, is just as essential to completing the picture. And once totally assembled, this picture is so rich in detail, it evokes emotion...

Theres a Barracuda in My Office More on Politics

Hollywood's a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. Marilyn Monroe In his book Reel Power by Mark Litwak (Silman-James Press), Mark states, Successful filmmakers are distinguished, not only by a command of their medium but also by their political savvy. Unless a filmmaker is adept at the politics of moviemaking, it's unlikely he will ever get the chance to demonstrate his skill as a moviemaker. As a rule, when you work as part of a crew, you...

Theres More Than One Kind

I bet you didn't know there are different types of meetings as they relate to interviews. There's the standard interview for a specific job opening, which you may have already experienced, and then there are the following three types (which are explained in greater detail within this chapter). My favorite is the general information meeting. This is a meeting you ask for. It could last five minutes or an hour, depending on the circumstances. Its purpose is for you to introduce yourself to...

Unions and Guilds

All major studios and many independent production companies are signatory to certain basic union and guild agreements, the most common being the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which represents actors, stunt coordinators, stunt performers, professional singers, puppeteers, airplane pilots, professional dancers (which may cover swimmers and skaters as well) and extras the Directors Guild of America (DGA), representing directors, unit production managers and assistant directors the Writers Guild of...

Walking Around the Brick Wall

Contrary to what I'm telling you not to do, I spent several years feeling resentful and carrying a chip on my shoulder because I couldn't get into the DGA and become a union production manager. I had been a production coordinator for ages, having worked side by side with a production manager who not only taught me well but gave me a great deal of responsibility. I had been a staff production executive, supervising production managers on multiple company shows. I had done a couple of small shows...

What Theyre Looking

I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job. Samuel Goldwyn This is one of the topics for which I sought the opinions of my friends and colleagues in the business. Those I surveyed are working professionals, individuals representing diverse segments of the industry, all of whom are in a position to hire. The question posed was, What do you look for when an applicant walks through your door The following are their responses I want...

Working Around Celebrities

Once you start working in the biz, your days as a fan, while not over, will change forever. Your enthusiasm for being around celebrities must be greatly restrained, because if you're going to be working around the powerful and famous, your job will be as support staff, not as a devotee in search of an autograph. When meeting a celebrity for the first time, it's okay to say something like, It's a pleasure meeting you. I'm a big admirer of your work. But leave it at that, and go no further. No...

You Never Know Where Its Going to Come From

You never know where a recommendation is going to emanate from, because the person sitting next to you in a film class today could be directing his own movie within the year and in a position to offer you a great job. a production accountant you worked with three shows ago could be in a position to recommend you for a fabulous film. the assistant you're calling to set up an appointment with her boss could have her boss' position within six months' time. the PA you're working with could sell his...

Finding Your Market

A couple of chapters ago, you read about the importance of knowing what you want and setting goals for yourself. Your next step is figuring out where you should be working and who you need to meet. Armed with the knowledge of where you're headed, it's to your advantage to target the employers who are doing what you eventually want to be doing and the companies that can provide the learning experience you need instead of just taking the first job that comes along. The best of both worlds is an...

Getting Your Material in Front of the Buyers

Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one. William Goldman, from Adventures in the Screen Trade (Warner Books) Once you figure out your market, have your project as packaged as it's going to get and are ready to get it out there, your next step is to line up your pitch meetings or connect with buyers who will agree to read your project. If you're going to...

Being Part of a Crew

Being part of a crew means you're a member of the team that supervises, directs, prepares, designs, dresses, finds locations, builds sets, lights, photographs, rigs, records sound, videotapes, keeps continuity, moves the production from one place to another, prepares the talent, creates props, stunts and effects, publicizes, edits and compiles all the necessary elements to complete a film or TV show. Each time you're hired for a show, the crew you're about to become part of becomes like a new...

Shameless Self Promotion

Part of the job hunt is getting your name out there and finding ways to create memorable impressions. One way to do that is by using what the latest buzzword refers to as branding. Start by creating a company name for yourself, something that encapsulates all your endeavors and possibly your personality as well. Once you've thought up a name you'd like to use, see if it's available by filing for a DBA (doing business as). Check with the county clerk's office in your city. They can guide you...

The Word According to Everyone Else

Just as I did for other parts of the book, I've interviewed many industry professionals from different aspects of the business and varying career levels and asked each of them to offer some words of advice to those just starting out in the business. And whether you're just starting out or are knee-deep in it already, there's something here for all of us to learn, no matter where we stand on the proverbial ladder. Here's what they had to say. This is an awesome way to make a living and worth the...

Being Well Liked and Having a Good Reputation

It doesn't quite seem fair that while most of us endeavor to be hard-working, polite, tolerant, honorable, reliable and pleasant, others are allowed to exhibit the worst behavior imaginable. But unfortunately, that's the way the show biz cookie crumbles. If you have a proven track record of successes, a creative brilliance that's always in demand, a certain status or the ability to generate mega bucks or mega ratings, you pretty much get a free pass when it comes to conduct. I'm not suggesting...

Network Opportunities

Major television networks in California and New York offer a variety of entry-level opportunities internships and Page programs among them. Many local television stations throughout the country also offer various career opportunity programs for students and entry-level applicants. NBC's page program in Burbank, California lasts a year, and those accepted work as part of the Guest Relations staff as a liaison between the network and the general public. Pages conduct tours, perform various...

First Things First

Before you commit to any property, and even if it's your script, make sure you have a basic understanding of what constitutes a good story. Next, is it structured and formatted properly Is it the right number of pages If you're not sure, go to www.samuelfrench.com or www.writersstore.com, and order one of the many books available on proper screenplay structure. Most of the books will also give you a rundown of the screenwriting software available that will allow you to write or convert your...

The Land of Big Egos and Bad Tempers

Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine. Elvis Presley I was sitting in my eye doctor's waiting room one day last year and happened to pick up a copy of a Readers Digest that was sitting next to me on the table. It was the December 2003 issue and in it was a piece on Julia Roberts. I started reading and then took out a piece of paper and a pen, so I could write this down in discussing the issue of where she and her husband were living, Miss Roberts said she didn't like living in California because...