Final Note on the Subject

Earlier in the book I discussed the fact that in this business, you have to continually expand your network, meet people and sell yourself. Well, going on meetings and interviews is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that. It's scary and often intimidating, especially at first. Generally, the more meetings you go on, the easier it gets unless you're extremely shy, in which case it's always a bit uncomfortable. You may also wake up one morning like I did and wonder why, after having...

Sense of Urgency

Expect to perform your tasks faster than a speeding bullet, because everyone will expect you to have a sense of urgency. There's nothing worse than a rookie who doesn't move or work quickly even after you explain the need for him to do so. I could have discussed this under Becoming Indispensable, but it deserved its own section, just because it's such an important part of what's expected of every entry-level employee. It's been my experience that no matter how big the budget, the company, the...

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...

Advice From the Experts

Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture. Spencer Tracy As previously mentioned (more than once), a significant part of your success in this industry will be directly tied to your attitude, how you treat others and how you conduct yourself at each and every job you'll ever have. So even though my philosophy and advice on attitude, treating others, etc., is peppered throughout this entire book (sorry, you can't get away from it), this particular chapter contains nothing but advice, from...

Advice From the Resume Goddess

In the previous chapter, in the section on self promotion, I mentioned how spotting the title of The Resume Goddess led me to Vivian VanLier. I'd like to thank Vivian for her help with the next part of this chapter as well as the sample acting resume. Vivian is a certified career coach with a national reputation for providing career management and resume writing services to professionals and executives throughout the U.S. and internationally. She has earned three prestigious credentials as a...

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 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 Available

Once you start going out on meetings, you never know when you're going to be called for a job. And sometimes, there are jobs that need to be filled immediately. This means you have to be readily accessible. Everyone in this business should have an answering machine, but more importantly, you need a pager and or cell phone. There have been times when I've needed an extra production assistant so badly that I'd just go through my list of PAs and hire the first one I could reach. If you're just...

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...

Being Prepared

It's been my experience that unless born into the industry, few people are truly prepared for the reel world, whether they've been to film school or not. It's not like film school, and it's certainly not like any other business or job you've ever had. Newcomers are transported to another planet where the words no or I can't are never an option, extreme behavior is accepted, creativity and politics are equally valued, people work and talk at break-neck speeds, you work just as hard on the...

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...

Creative

Some of the most coveted positions are those within a studio's Creative department. This tends to get a bit confusing, because the titles of the executives who run these departments state that they are presidents, executive vice presidents, senior vice presidents and vice presidents of Production, but the division is referred to as Development or the Creative Group. The president, the very head of the department, is the one who has the power to greenlight a property to give the final go and...

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,...

Dont Let Them Scare You Away

As prepared as you are when you walk into any interview, you will never experience two that are exactly alike. Some people you meet with will end up doing most of the talking, and some will allow you to talk more, so they can spend more time summing you up. Some will happily respond to questions you have about them, and others won't want to talk about themselves at all. Some people you meet will make you feel comfortable right off the bat, and you'll click with them instantly others will be...

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...

Fade In On Reality

I don't take the movies seriously, and anyone who does is in for a headache. Bette Davis There's a Los Angeles radio station I occasionally listen to, and a bumper message they sporadically play says, Welcome to Hollywood What's your dream It's no secret that scores of people move to this town every day, as they do New York and other entertainment and film centers, to try to break into the biz, to be discovered, to attend film school, to get an agent, to perform, to sell a script, to be seen,...

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...

Finding Your Passion

You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning. Billy Wilder Before you choose your goals and decide the direction you're heading, find your passion and define your dream. The road to get almost anywhere in this industry is laden with potholes, detours, traffic jams and rough terrain, so find a destination that excites you, or it won't have been worth the journey. Take a few minutes, find a quiet place to sit, and ask yourself What it is that makes me want to jump out of bed in the...

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...

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.

Good PAs and Assistants Are Worth Their Weight in Gold

There is never a shortage of people willing to take entry-level positions, and as previously mentioned, exceptionally good PAs, gofers or runners, assistants, receptionists, mailroom workers, pages and apprentices are extremely rare. Being one of the good ones is the very best way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Walking into your new job, prepared and knowing what's expected of you, will not only impress your new employers, it will be a great relief to them as well. Add the...

Having a Plan and Committing to Your Success

If someone should ask you what you want to do in this industry and your answer resembles something like, Well, I'm really not sure yet. I was kind of thinking of being a writer. But then again, I enjoy performing . . . and editing, too, or, I think I'd like to be versatile and do a lot of different things, maybe be a location manager, a script supervisor and an assistant cameraman, well sorry that's not going to cut it. Not knowing exactly what your goal is or being wishy-washy about it will...

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...

Having What It Takes

To succeed in this business, being smart, talented, creative and or skilled in a particular craft (or two, or three) is not enough. You have to be special, to stand out, to be willing to sell yourself over and over again, to have the right attitude, temperament and personality to be willing to play the game and relentlessly do what it takes not only to succeed, but to simply hang in there and survive. Wanting it badly enough, truly believing it's going to happen, imagining yourself in the job...

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...

Life Will Not Go According to Plan If You Have No Plan

I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific. Lily Tomlin There's a dry cleaners about ten minutes from where I live, and they have a marquee out in front. But instead of displaying something like, Tuesday's Special Shirts Laundered & Ironed 99i ea., they display words of wisdom. It was always interesting to drive by and read the platitude-of-the-week. Then one day, a few years ago, I was driving by, and the marquee read, Life will not go according to...

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...

Line Producer

A Line Producer is also referred to as the nuts and bolts guy (or gal), the producer's right-hand person and the budgeting-scheduling expert who supervises all administrative, financial and technical details of the production a distinct challenge, no matter what the show's budget or genre. This individual is responsible for all the day-to-day matters that go into keeping the show running smoothly, while striving to make sure it remains on schedule and on budget. The line producer functions 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...

Passion Passion And More Passion

Passion excites, it attracts and it sells. It's contagious, inspirational and motivational. It's the single most important ingredient to propelling your career. It's the enthusiasm that makes the difference between a terrific interview and a mediocre one. It's the catalyst that often makes the difference between selling a project or not. It's the irresistible characteristic that differentiates you from your competitors. It's the magnet that pulls others toward you. It's the motivation needed to...

Perfecting Your Craft

No matter how much you know and how talented you are, never stop learning. Technological advances are changing aspects of our industry every day. Trends change, procedures change there's always more to learn. Staying on top of the curve will keep you sharp, in the game and in demand. There are always classes and seminars to take (several of which are available online or on CD and DVD) and new books are continually coming out. If you belong to a union or guild, they often offer seminars for...

Pitching Is Just Part of the Game

If you plan on becoming a successful producer, writer, agent, manager, distributor, development or production executive you will undoubtedly have to master the art of pitching. Pitching is the first step in selling a screenplay a story a concept a completed film a pilot an actor for a specific part or a writer, director, cinematogra-pher, production designer, composer or editor for a specific project. And if you're not pitching a project or talent, you're pitching yourself in an effort to line...

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 Coordinator

The production coordinator sets up and runs the production office hires and supervises the APOC and other office personnel inter faces with each department head and assists them with all their needs helps the UPM by checking availabilities and assembling the crew obtains bids on equipment and services places orders for film, equipment and special services handles all distant and foreign location travel, accommodations, shipping, customs and immigration matters makes sure all paperwork and...

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 Stings

Yes, many do become successful, famous and wealthy, but it's crowded at the top of that ladder. There's no guarantee you'll reach the top of that much sought-after pinnacle, and if you do, that you'll be able to stay there. And lest you think once you're working in this industry, you'll have a clear shot to easy street think again. It's not always so easy Yes, you can make some good money in this business, but for the majority of freelancers who don't work all the time, that good money will...

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...

Reel Production

Hollywood has always been a cage While this chapter focuses solely on the physical side of production, the information it contains is useful for anyone in the industry (agents, managers, distributors, composers, attorneys, etc.). Because the more you understand about how a production office is set up and run and how a set functions, the more knowledgeable you'll be about the business in general and the more effective you'll be at dealing with the people who reside in production offices and on...

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...

Seven Steps to a Successful General Information Meeting

You've got your first meeting lined up (for example's sake, let's say it's with a female studio executive). Now what 1. Walk in, shake hands, make eye contact and thank her for taking the time to meet with you. 2. Always acknowledge the person you're meeting. You'll have done your homework, so you'll know what you're going to say in advance. It could be a compliment on her past accomplishments, on the company's latest film, etc. If you hadn't been able to find any background information on her...

Show Biz Survival Techniques

A Teflon Coat Comes in All Sizes 319 Preserving Your Motivation and Confidence 320 Getting Past the Disappointment and Depression 321 Be Bold and Mighty Forces Will Come to Your Aid 325 The No One's-Ever-Going-To-Hire-Me-Again Syndrome 329 It's Not a Business for Sissies 330 Humor Is Still the Best Medicine 333 Get Real 334

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 Good the Bad and the Ugly

Flops are part of life's menu, and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses. Rosalind Russell When someone outside the business asks me what I do and I reply that I work in the film industry, the comments range from That must be fun to How exciting to That must be sooooo interesting to Which movie stars have you met And there's no doubt that these are some of the same thoughts that prompted many of us to get into the business to begin with. At 19, when I was asked if I wanted to...

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...