Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hollywood: Rated "M" for Madness!

I was strolling through some of the advice I had given to different people the last few months about coming out to work in Hollywood. I'm going to post some of the advice I had given them and maybe a bit more as well.

Caution: I am not a big Hollywood player. I am only a lowly intern and temp. I don't know all there is to know, I just have some experience and I have found a few things useful. There have also been a tremendous amount of support from others that I've met here so I will be sharing their advice as well.

Basically, if you plan to work in the film business or just want to know more about how crazy it is, this is a small guide to the beginning steps:

Article the I: To work in Hollywood, one must live in Hollywood (or thereabouts).
This is something I ran into when I was finishing school - how do I get a job in the film business of Hollywood if I don't live there. I tried sending out my resume and connecting with a few people, but it inevitably came down to this truth: you can't work here until you live here. No one wants to call someone in Provo, Utah or Raleigh, North Carolina if it will take a good day for them to travelto LA (also, and a little harsher - why should they hire you if you're not dedicated enough to live out here?)
This forms a sort of catch 22 because you might not be able to live out here without a job, but you can't live out here without a job. My advice - just make the plunge. Save up a bit of money and get down here. Things will work out as needed.

Article the II: He that hath no experience, musteth worketh for free...eth.
I don't care how many student or independent (non-union) film sets you've been on. Down here, that means squat. And unfortunately, to get some experience you will need to work as an "intern." What does that mean? Means you will be working for a few days a week (or more depending on what internship) for none dollars. Some of you are saying "that's fine, I can do that" - okay, but don't go around touting that. Most companies are legally required to offer school credit for you to intern for free. This means you still need to be a student. For production, you may be able to work as an intern for a few weeks and they might hire you on. If anything, they'll hire you if they like you for the next job.
Some places have the covetous paid internships or trainee programs. Those are awesomely sought after and they are usually few and far between. If you can hook that up, good on you.
Working as a free drone isn't all that bad, you get to know a bunch of people in your same situation with the same goals and dreams. This comes in handy, especially when they become VP of production at Warner Brothers (see Article the III).
Most places fill up fast for spring and summer internships, get a jump on that as early as possible. For Fall and Winter - get your rezzie to them a.s.a.p.

Article the III: Networking is just making a lot of friends.
Go out and network with other people that are in positions that you want to be in. Go out to events that are being put on and meet industry people. If you know people out here, take them out to a restaurant or cafe (this town loves to go "have drinks"). See what they know and who they know. Maybe even call a few people that you admire and ask to interview them (you can say it's for school, but do not ask them for a job. If you tell them you are meeting for an interview, interview them.) Knowing them would be very beneficial too, remember to send a thank you and keep them updated on your status every now and then.

Article the IV: Patience is key.
This is a lesson that was just re-learned to me by a caring and wonderful friend. Just because you have made the sacrifice and dedication to move out here does not mean that this town owes you a job. They don't owe you anything. There are so many more people that have been out here longer and have tried harder than you did to get where they are, why are you so special? If you're talented, prove it. Until then, be patient and humble and let things happen as they happen.
Now this is not to say you should just sit back and let things float your way, you need to be proactive (not forceful), determined (not annoying), and resourceful (not stupid). Go out and network, keep in contact with your network, keep on working on your craft, do your part and then be patient for it to work out.
One final note on that - under no circumstances should you go out and demand an audience with executives. It's like asking a girl for her number and getting rejected so you show up at her house - it's weird. Don't do it. Fax or email your resume, get to know the people, but if you're not welcome - stay out.

Article the V: Read the trades, industry blogs and any other news source available to you.
Trades - Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Get to know them very well. Most offices have them lying around so you will be able to read them there without paying for them. Don't buy a subscription because most of the info you need to know is online anyway. (If you're still in school, a lot of the departments or libraries order subscriptions that you can read for free).
Blogs - depends on what your line of interest is. If you want to email me specifically I could send some suggestions your way. Most people read Nikki Finke.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

T-Shirt Wanted

If anyone is willing to buy me this shirt, I will not protest.You can find it at Headline Shirts.

Disney Fellowship and WB Writer's Workshop

This is to all my writing homies:

Disney/ABC has released the deadline for their Writing Fellowship program. For those of you who don't know what it is - It's a writing program that hires little-known to not-known-at-all writers for a year to write for them. Apparently they are only accepting writers for television, so get that primetime television spec up to speed. The entry dates are from May 1, 2009 to July 1, 2009 so get crackin' on that fabulous spec.
Here's the website: http://www.abctalentdevelopment.com/programs/programs_writings.html

Also announced is the deadline for the Warner Brothers Writers' Workshop. This works similarly to the writer's fellowship; but it is for six months, it is only for television writers and it includes several workshops and discussion panels. It is on the Warner Brothers lot and goes from October 2009 to March 2010. The entry dates are from July 1, 2009 to July 25, 2009. You still have time to put a polishing touch on that spec. They don't accept any original material, so best to find a show that you are willing to research the crap out of and write an amazing episode for it.
The website for the workshop is: http://writersworkshop.warnerbros.com/apply_now.php

I personally planned to enter the Disney Fellowship using my Script Frenzy spec I wrote last month. I still need to do some rewrites and possibly polish it up. But now I am informed that they have done away with the Feature writing fellowship and have made it strictly television. Oh well, I will just have to try and sell it myself and get going that way.

Good luck to anyone who's going for it. Drop me a line if you plan on taking the plunge, I'd like to hear about your progress.