Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Do You Do Exactly?

Okay so I keep getting asked this....and so I decided to do a little post and share a few of the projects/shoots I've been working on.

Much of what I do revolves around interviews/movie press junkets/video content for our websites teen.com and gurl.com, but we also do sponsored campaign videos for various brands.

Here are a few interviews/projects I've done lately:

Fuze Los Angeles - Narrated by Cat Deeley:
http://on.fb.me/FuzeLA

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Junket Interview:
www.teen.com/chris-hemsworth-thor-interview-video

Victoria Justice Behind the Scenes Interview for her new music video:
www.teen.com/victoria-justice-healthy-eating-diet-fitness-tip/

Bella Thorne & Zendaya Red Carpet Interview:
www.teen.com/bella-thorne-zendaya-summer-camp-plans-simmons-pastry-interview

My Day My Life: Ashely Tisdale:
www.teen.com/ashley-tisdale-hellcats-sharpay-exclusive-video-interview

Hope you enjoy those :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life After Film School: Nina Jacobson & Brad Simpson Interview

I had the opportunity to get to interview Nina Jacobson & Brad Simpson, the producers of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, for Life After Film School.

Check out the episode here!

http://bit.ly/ig6b5a

PREVIEW:

"Most important thing we should know before graduating film school?"

Nine: It's not easy, but it's possible.

Brad: That you don't really know anything yet!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

Hello all!

Check out the guest blog post I wrote for my very good friend, Craig Ormiston!

http://bit.ly/iAfPn7

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When I Grow Up




When I was little, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. An Actress. Yes, there it is. I wanted to act. But it’s interesting how you change over the years. And how something you are so sure of at 12, can feel so unclear and ominous at 22.



When I first arrived at USC, I remember sitting in an assembly of fellow Film Production majors and being asked by a moderator, “how many of you want to be directors?” About 75% of the kids raised their hands. When you’re young and love film, being a director seems like the natural course of action. But as the years went on and we all learned more about the different types of jobs available in film, slowly we started to morph. We realized, maybe we didn’t actually enjoy working with actors that much, but had a real knack for sound mixing or editing or cinematography or producing. Film school opened our eyes to all these different specialties, that would still allow us to be involved in film, but maybe in a slightly different way than we had planned. I’ve come to realize that life has a funny way of panning out that way, though!


Before graduation, I feel like most of my friends could tell you more or less what they wanted to do with their life. But now, I feel like the resounding answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up” is “I’m not sure yet.” I’m no longer getting taller (and haven’t for almost 10 years now) but I’m definitely still growing and figuring out what I’m good at and what I like and what’s important to me. I’m hoping that as I gain more experience in the working world and observe others older and wiser than myself, the answer will become clear. But until then, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, meet as many great people as I can, and most of all, just be happy with who I am and where I’m at now.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to Get Into USC Film


One of my little sisters is graduating from high school this year and it's really gotten me thinking about my own senior year of high school. All I wanted was to be accepted into USC's film production program...and somehow, I was.

I've gotten asked the question ALOT over the years: "How did you get into USC's Production program"? Well, here is what I've come to realize over the years, looking at both myself and my fellow classmates.

First of all, everyone from my year of Production had SAT scores and grades that were above average for USC. So BE SMART. Most of the kids in Production would probably be going to a "higher-calibur" school if they didn't get into a program as prestigious as USC film. That's one of the reason why you run into so many production kids who have full ride scholarships or partial scholarships....they are the really smart kids.

Second, you gotta be really creative. This is the main thing USC is looking for when selecting Production applicants.

Third, be a great writer. My mom told me that at orientation all the parents of Production students were sitting around trying to figure out what their kids had in common (and thus how they got into the program) and the one thing that everyone seemed to be really good at (according to their parents)was writing. Even though we weren't in the screenwriting program, its important to all film degrees.

Fourth, don't send movies as samples. I know we are all proud of our dinky little high school movies, but USC actually doesn't want to see them! Unless they are Academy Award Short Film contenders....keep 'em to yourself. USC doesn't want to see you already making cinematic mistakes; they would rather start with clean slates. For the record, I didn't send a single video....and I had many.

Fifth, and most importantly, passion. Everyone I know from my program is incredibly passionate about film. They don't want to do anything else with their lives and it shows. Obsessed with film as a kid, I had always felt kind of like an alien. But then I came to USC, and it was like I had finally landed on this planet where everyone loved movies as much as I did. I felt totally at home, like I'd finally found where I belonged.

Well hopefully that is a tad helpful. It's what I tell any prospective students I speak with. And I think its pretty good advice!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Interview with Amy Baack, Executive Assistant on "V"

A good friend of mine, Amy Baack, is the executive producer's assistant on the TV show "V"....I asked her to share a few of her experiences and insights on working on a TV show! Here's what she has to say....


You graduated from USC in 2010, what did you study there and how was the experience?

I studied Film/TV Production at the School of Cinematic Arts. That program is very intensive in that you study every aspect of film production, from writing to post-production. It was an incredible experience - USC has earned its reputation for being one of the top film schools in the nation for a reason. I think the alumni it produces are so successful in this industry because they’ve had experience in every aspect of the creative process and are thus more well-rounded than anyone who specializes in just one field.

What sorts of activities did you participate in and what kind of jobs did you have prior working at “V”?

I held many internships in various fields of the entertainment industry during my college years. I was interning in the production department on Mad Men when I got the job for V. Before that, I worked at E!, Spyglass Entertainment, ICM, and Fox Television Studios, to name a few.

How did you get your job as the Assistant to the Executive Producer at “V”?

I have a wonderful friend who works at one of the big agencies in town and was willing to help me search for jobs. My boss’ agent had sent out an in-house job listing for the assistant position, and my friend was able to give me a heads-up about it. I submitted my resume not expecting to hear anything, but then I got an interview and landed the spot! It was completely unexpected.

What is a typical day like for you? What hours do you work and what sort of tasks do you perform?

As the showrunner's assistant, my duties are primarily based on the needs of my boss, though I am involved in many of the creative sides of the show as well. I manage my boss's personal schedule and contacts, transcribe notes calls with our studio and network, edit outlines/scripts, along with a whole bunch of other random tasks. Sometimes I have to do personal assistant-type duties, but those are rare. My work hours during the writing period were 9:00AM - 7:00PM (sometimes a little later).

How does your job as Assistant t the Executive Producer differ from that of a Writer’s Assistant or a Writer’s PA?

The writers' assistants job was centered in the writers' room: they took detailed notes, got lunch for the staff every day, bought groceries, helped write up outlines, and did research. They started work at 10:00 AM and usually worked until much later than I did, but it depended on how many notes they had to type up and edit, as well as how late the writers stayed that day. I did a lot more coordinating with the studio and network and oversaw the whole office, whereas they worked directly with the writing team.

Do you get to spend any time in the writer’s room? Can you explain the hierarchy of the writer’s room?

I got to spend a ton of time in the writers’ room. My boss was amazing in that he encouraged me to spend time in the room whenever I could. The hierarchy will vary from show to show, but it is established by how much experience each writer has and what title they have been given on the show. Obviously the showrunner has the final say on every decision; all the writers have to pitch ideas to him or her for approval. Our writers would usually split up into a couple of rooms, with the senior writers leading the others in brainstorming ideas, then they’d all come together to pitch their ideas to the showrunner. The writers’ titles are arranged in the following descending order: Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer. Consulting Producer, Co-Producer, Executive Story Editor, and finally Staff Writer.

With your busy schedule, how do you find time to write?

That’s the biggest dilemma in the television world; working 10-12-hour-long days is hardly conducive to the creative process. But if you’re committed, you’ll make it work. If I had any down time at work, I would usually spend it writing (again, my boss encouraged me to do this because he knows I want to eventually be a writer); weekends are also a good time to write as much as you can. But it is definitely a challenge.

Are you trying to get an literary agent? Do you have any tips on how aspiring screenwriters can find representation?

I’m not currently ready for the agent stage, since I’m still polishing my spec scripts, but I’m not too worried about it since I have plenty of contacts within the industry to help me out when I want it. The best way to get representation is to start with the smaller agencies, since they’ll be better able to help foster a beginning writer’s career than a big agency would. If you know anyone with representation, it’s also a good idea to ask them for help in submitting your writing samples to people who might read it. You just need to use your contacts to get your script on the right desk; and, of course, the script has to be good.

Have any of “V”’s former writer’s assistants been promoted to staff writers on the show? How does one more up from writer’s assistant to staff writer?

V hasn’t been around long enough for the writers’ assistants to be promoted (and we had different assistants in season 2 than we did in season 1). However, my boss is a strong believer in upward promotion; if V sticks around for another season or two, I’m sure he’d be willing to give the assistants opportunities to write scripts. The jump from writers’ assistant to staff writer is a tricky one; basically, the assistant has to prove that he or she has good ideas (by actively pitching them in the room and not being afraid to pipe in during the writers’ conversations) and the showrunner has to be willing to take a chance on them.

What advice do you have for those hoping to land a gig in a writing office?

There’s no magic formula for getting a job in a writers’ room, but since those are some of the most coveted positions (especially for aspiring writers), they are the most difficult to find and get. They won’t be posted in any joblists for that reason. I’d recommend trying to find and get to know people who work in television who can tell you about open assistant positions and put in a good word for you. Also, it’s always a good idea to bolster your resume by working in other industry assistant positions, such as at an agency or production company.

You always hear about how important networking is in the entertainment industry, how important do you feel networking is for an aspiring writer? Do you have any networking tips?

Networking is critical, but I think the concept has become a bit misunderstood. The truth of the matter is that no one is going to give you a job just because you schmoozed them up at some industry event. Networking is really about building friendships and proving that you are intelligent, friendly, and interesting. People in this field can see through fronts pretty well; if you’re not genuine or actually talented, no one is going to want to associate their name with yours. The best way to go about “networking” is to be willing to work very hard with a good attitude; that’s how you’ll get noticed and promoted.

What is the best thing about your job? The worst thing?

The best thing is that I’m immersed in the writing process on a television show, which was exactly where I wanted to be when I graduated from college. I feel really blessed for having gotten such a great position so quickly. The worst thing might be the stress that comes with the long hours and pace of working on a show, but that’s not much to complain about. I truly love my job.

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Ideally, I’d love to be running my own show by then. But I’d be happy just to be getting paid to write in any capacity.

What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from your job at “V”?

V taught me the importance of collaboration in television writing. It’s very different from feature writing, which consists of one or two writers at a time working alone on a script. In TV, you have to be willing to put your ego aside and work for the good of the show. You have to be willing to pitch any and all ideas and not be offended when they get shot down or someone else has a better take. Television writing can be a truly marvelous experience when everyone is willing to work together to produce the best possible content; it only goes sour when personal conflicts start getting in the way of the creative process.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Best Thing To Do Post Grad

Before I graduated college, a very successful business man gave me this piece of advice: The best thing you can do after graduating, is just to find a company you are really passionate about and try to make a contribution to that company.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. We all come to LA hoping to jump straight to the top....we don't want to "pay our dues"....we want it all, and we want it now. But once you graduate, you quickly realize that recent grads aren't typically producing major motion pictures six months later (there are a few exceptions). So if you can't have your dream career right away, what is the next best thing? Finding a company who is involved in projects or processes that interest you and getting in the door. Working your way up, observing those who have been at it longer, and gaining as much knowledge as you can. Because one day, it just might be your turn and you want to know that you have a firm foundation of skills, abilities, and wisdom.

Monday, March 28, 2011

180%

So my first week on the job went well. I went above and beyond, as I always do. It's important in this business to give 180%. You always hear, give 110%, but that's just a little more than a good job, right?

On my first assigned project, I was told to create a list of people. So I could have gone the traditional route and just made a list in a Word doc....which would have been fine. But I decided to go all out and not just create a boring list, but an interesting visual as well. I transferred my list into a PowerPoint document with attractive fonts, quotes, and multiple pictures for each slide.

Fast forward a day later.

My boss's boss called me into his office.

Boss: Lauren, did you do this?

Lauren: Yes

Boss: You created this?

Lauren: Yes....I'm kind of a PowerPoint nerd....

Boss: This is AMAZING. I want all of these people. I'm putting you on the phone with New York right now, you're going to help on the campaign. Good job.

And from then on, I felt like I was in the club.

My advice--go all out, give 180%.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Something Good's Around the Corner


For half of February, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. I finished up a project and didn't seem to have any other prospects lined up. The one job that I thought was going to come thru kept me hanging and didn't seem to have a start date in sight. It's stressful not knowing where your next job is going to come from!

But as I have come to realize, things really do have a way of working out. If you are hard-working, ambitious, [and likeable], something good is usually just around the corner. And if you really want to give luck a hand, I recommend booking a non-refundable trip....that'll usually do the trick :)

Jobless, I accepted my parents' invitation to go to Cabo, Mexico. The day after my dad booked the ticket, my dream company called me to come interview. Of course, I got the job and the most amazing part was, they told me NOT to cancel my trip. So I got to go to Cabo for a week and start full time the following Monday.

When I got back to the states this afternoon, I had several voicemails waiting for me. One to work on a freelance indie film, another to interview for a TV pilot, and one offering me an assistant job (something I had interviewed for like 2+ weeks ago). I am very happy with the job I already accepted, but it is always a confidence booster hearing a whole boatload of people want you! And to think, just two weeks ago, I was stressed and feeling utterly rejected.

Note to self: RELAX....good things will come to those who are patient and persevere.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Industry Temp Agencies

Co-Op Temp Agency

Contact Person: Jill Motaman

323-655-1009

8447 Wilshire Ste 210

Beverly Hills, CA 90211

www.cooptemp.com


Comar Agency

www.comaragency.com
Scheduling Coordinator

310-248-2700

6500 Wilshire Blvd Ste 2240

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Exclusively entertainment temp agency.
Services all major entertainment companies.


A+ Employment Co, Inc

www.theemploymentco.com

818-840-0998

3500 W. Olive Ave. Ste. 303

Burbank, CA 91505


Executive Temps

818-563-2939

2321 West Olive Ave

Burbank, CA 91506

www.execuive-temps.com

Exclusively entertainment temp agency.
Services all major entertainment companies.


Central Casting
220 S. Flower St.
Burbank, CA 91502
http://www.centralcasting.org/
Registration Info: 818.562.2755

Phone: 818.562.2700

Fax: 818.562.2786

Background acting


Background Talent Svc

Talent Casting

4804 Laurel Canyon Bldg. 414

North Hollywood, CA 91607

ph: 818-760-7090

http://www.backgroundtalent.net

Background acting


Apple One

www.appleone.com


Downtown:

888 S. Figueroa St., Suite 170

Los Angeles, CA 90017

(213) 892-0234

downtown@appleone.com
Not entertainment, mostly general office temp work


Beverly Hills:

9100 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 362W

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

(310) 228-9400

beverlyhills@appleone.com

Some entertainment and general office work


Westwood:

1250 Westwood Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90024

(310) 475-9461

westwood-ca@appleone.com
Some entertainment and general office work


Glendale

325 West Broadway

Glendale, CA 91204

JanetJobe@appleone.com

Full time: 818-240-8230

Temp: (818) 247-2991

Entertainment temp jobs

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Predicting Revenue Streams & Participation

I've always enjoyed math and puzzles and loved learning about how to predict a film's revenue streams and calculate participation. I thought I'd share a sample problem and go over how to work it out.

Setup: Your Aunt Alice has produced an action-adventure movie just released through a major studio. The film had a direct cost of 72,500,000, and features the internationally renowned star, Larry Auerbach, who received $12,500,000 against 15% of first dollar gross. The picture had an encouraging theatrical opening; initial estimates are that the picture is likely to generate $225,000,000 in domestic box office grosses based on a domestic distribution expense budget of some $60,000,000. Scenario: As a graduation present, Aunt Alice would like to give you 20% of Net Proceeds, but she wants you to predict what that would be before handing it to you.

Okay! So just from the Domestic Gross ($225,000,000) we can determine several things.

As you know, exhibitors (theatres) take a cut of the domestic gross....this usually breaks down as 50% to exhibitors and 50% to studio. So if domestic gross is 225,000,000, we can determine the studio's cut (gross receipts) to be $112,500,000 (50% of 225,000,000).

Domestic Box Office Gross Receipts: $112,500,000

Generally how it works is that REVENUE is made up by 42% Home Video, 38% Theatrical, and 20% Television.

So if 38% is $112,500,000, with a simple proportion we can determine that 42% would be 124,342,105-->rounded to $125,000,000. And 20% would be 59,210,526-->rounded to $59,000,000.

Since Free TV usually accounts for twice as much Pay TV....I broke the total Television Revenue of 59 mil, down to 20 mil for Pay TV & 39 mil for Free TV. This is a bit arbitrary, so you have to just make a good estimate.

Domestic Box Office Gross Receipts: 112.5 mil
Domestic DVD Revenue: 125 mil
Domestic Free TV: 39 mil
Domestic Pay TV: 20 mil

Now let's look at predicting INTERNATIONAL BOX OFFICE. Because the movie is an action-adventure film, which usually do really well overseas, I'm going to estimate that the film will do a little bit better in the international box office. So let's say it does 120% of domestic gross.

120% of 225,000,000 (Domestic Gross) = 270 mil = International Box Office

50% of 270 = 135 mil = International Box Office Gross Receipts

So using our 38%/42%/20% breakdown with 135 mil (International Theatrical--38%), we can determine International Home Video to be 149,210,526-->rounded to 149 mil. And International TV to be 71,052,632-->rounded to 71 mil. We then break down that 71 mil to 25 mil to International Pay TV & 46 mil to International Free TV (Free TV does approx twice as much business as Pay TV).

So here is what we have determined thus far:

Domestic Box Office Gross Receipts: 112.5 mil
International Box Office Gross Receipts: 135 mil

(a) Domestic Box Office: 225 mil
(b) Domestic DVD Revenue: 125 mil
(c) Domestic Free TV: 39 mil
(d) Domestic Pay TV: 20 mil
(e) International Box Office: 270 mil
(f) International Home Video: 149 mil
(g) International Pay TV: 25 mil
(h) International Free TV: 46 mil

Other Given Information:

Direct Cost of Film: 72.5 mil
Gross Participation: Actor receives 12.5 mil against 15% of gross proceeds
Distribution Expenses:
Domestic: 60 mil
Estimate International: 75 (we can assume that international will be a little higher for
an action-adventure flick)

Now the first step is to 1) Determine Gross Receipts:

(a) Domestic Box Office Gross Receipts: 112.5 mil (50% of Domestic B.O.)
(b) Domestic DVD Gross Receipts: 25 mil (this is always 20% of Total Home Video...years ago
with VHS it was determined that 20% was the
intellectual property value, the other 80% stays with
the DVD manufacturers)
(c) Domestic Pay TV Gross Receipts: 20 mil (no computation, total revenue goes to studio)
(d) Domestic Free TV Gross Receipts: 39 mil (no computation, total revenue goes to studio)
(e) Intl Box Office Gross Receipts: 135 mil (50% total Intl Box Office)
(f) Intl DVD Gross Receipts: 29.8 (20% of Intl Home Video)
(g) Intl Pay TV Gross Receipts: 25 mil (no computation, total revenue goes to studio)
(h) Intl Free TV Gross Receipts: 46 mil (no computation, total revenue goes to studio)

Add that all up for...

TOTAL GROSS RECEIPTS: 432.3 mil

2) Compute Distribution Fees

(typically 30% for Domestic Theatrical & TV, 35% Intl Theatrical, 40% Intl TV, NO distrib fee for Home Video Domestic or Intl)

(a) 33.75 mil (30% of the Domestic B.O. Gross Receipts)
(b) NA - no distribution fee for Home Video
(c) 6 mil (30% of Domestic Pay TV Gross Receipts)
(d) 11.7 mil (30% Domestic Free TV Gross Receipts)
(e) 47.25 mil (35% of Intl Box Office Gross Receipts)
(f) NA - no distribution fee for Home Video
(g) 10 mil (40% of Intl Pay TV Gross Receipts)
(h) 18.4 mil (40% of Intl Free TV Gross Receipts)

Add it all together....

TOTAL DISTRIBUTION FEES: $127.1 mil

3) Determine Distribution Expenses

We were already given the domestic distribution expenses (60 mil) and we estimated the international distribution expenses to be a little higher, reflecting the increase in international box office (75 mil).

Add those together for....

TOTAL DISTRIBUTION EXPENSES: 135 mil

4) Compute Cost of Production

Direct Cost (Budget): 72.5 mil
Studio Overhead: 9 mil (this is always 12.5% of the direct cost)
Interest: 3.8 mil (this is always 5.25% of the direct cost)
Pre-Break Gross Participation: 49 mil (see below to compute)

--> Compute Pre-Break Participation:
Gross Proceeds: 410 mil --> determined by taking TOTAL GROSS RECEIPTS (432.3 mil) and subtracting 5% for "Off the Tops" (goes to MPAA dues, residuals, taxes & conversion costs, etc)

15% of Gross Proceeds (as determined in contract, see setup): 61.5 mil (15% of 410)

61.5 mil MINUS 12.5 mil already paid to Larry = 49 mil

Add it all together for....

TOTAL COST OF PRODUCTION: 134.3 mil

5) Compute Net Proceeds:

Gross Receipts --------------------------------------> 432.3 mil
minus
Distribution Fees -----------------------------------> 127.1 mil
minus
Distribution Expenses -----------------------------> 135 mil
minus
Cost of Production/Gross Participation ----> 134.3 mil

NET PROCEEDS = 35.9 mil

MY PARTICIPATION (20% Net Proceeds) = 7.18 million dollars

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PA Quiz

1) What 2 pieces of paperwork should a Set PA have on them at all times?

2) On a call sheet, 'SWF' stands for...?

3) Does an actor show up on set when they are 'On Hold'?

4) As a Set PA, who do you work for?
a) Director
b) AD
c) Producer
d) Location Manager

5) Who is the Head of the Electric Department?
a) Best Boy
b) Prop Master
c) Gaffer
d) Key Grip

6) An Office PA works for....
a) UPM
b) Production Coordinator
c) Producer

7) On set, if asked to get a Shooting Schedule, where would you find it?

8) When do you fill out your "start work"?

9) When an AD announces "Rolling" over the radio, what do you do?

10) Which of the following do you NOT shout out when heard on the radio?
a) Lock it up
b) On the move
c) New deal
d) 2nd Team
e) Bring in 1st Team
f) Picture's up
g) 10-1
h) Background action

11) What do you do when the AD says "Lock it up" over the radio?

12) What info would you not find on a callsheet?
a) The props needed for the day
b) The weather forecast
c) The budget for the day
d) The AD's cell phone number

13) Who informs the CREW when we will be changing locations?

14) List 3 other names for Extras.


***
***
***
***

ANSWERS:
1) sides, callsheets
2) Start Work Finish
3) No
4) B
5) C
6) B
7) AD Kit in Prod Trailer @ Base Camp
8) Day you start on set, before you actually begin
9) Repeat loudly
10) A,E,G
11) C
12) C
13) PAs! Job= to provide info to crew!
14) Background, Skins, Atmosphere, Cattle, Props that Eat, etc.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Producer Profile: Gary Lucchesi


A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture at USC Law with Gary Lucchesi, Producer & President of Lakeshore Entertainment. He was a very jovial, down-to-earth man and I thought I'd share a bit from the talk.

Where do you go if you want to get into the business side of entertainment?
Start in the mailroom at an agency. I didn't know I was interested in film until the end of college, when I took a class taught by David Geffen. After graduating, I interviewed at William Morris Agency. When they asked who I knew in entertainment, I said, David Geffen, and I got the job. I was making $500/month. But I hadn't grown up with a lot, so I thought that was pretty good. I feel like I had an advantage, actually, coming from no money. Surviving on your own is a wonderful skill.

How do you make the most of a challenging work environment?
I worked for a crazy agent at one point. And it was rough. I felt like Terminator in the scene where the bullets keep hitting him and bouncing off--and he just keeps on walking. That's when my mom told me that I was anticipating the worst. And I was. She told me that I could handle it. And it was true, I could.

How did you get from WMA to become the Head of Production at Paramount?
When I got married and I wanted to be a family man. I looked at all the agents around me who were divorced and had problems with their kids--and I didn't want that. I thought to myself, studio execs have it better. So I went there. However, I quickly realized that studio execs are just as messed up as the rest. You have to seek out role models, it doesn't just come with a job title.

How/why did you cross over from the business side of entertainment to the creative side?
I grew up amongst storytellers. My house was the congregation point for all of my dad's old war friends, so I grew up hearing endless stories about WWII. And somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to be involved in the storytelling and creative process as well. So in 1997, I joined Lakeshore Entertainment, where we make 3 or 4 movies a year. As head of Lakeshore, I get to be an Exec as well as a Producer on our films. I split my time between the office and set when we have a project filming.

How do you finance your films at Lakeshore?
We usually sell the international rights to foreign distributors to get a good percentage of our total budget. Then we, and a couple equity financiers, put the rest of the money in. Things are different these days, ten years ago, we'd have none of our own money in the movie. But now, with the loss of the DVD market, we have to. It is very hard to re-coup budgetary costs without the DVD market.

What kind of material are you looking for?
I'd kill to find a family film. Animation completely dominates the family sphere these days. Where is the Home Alone today?

How to Get a [Dream] Job in Hollywood


So I got a job offer from my dream company yesterday. I cannot tell you how long I've been waiting and hoping for something like this to fall in my lap....and finally it did.

Here's how you land a job in this business:

August - Volunteered to help a friend, who was a Producer's Assistant, during a pickup weekend by standing in as a hand model (please see my famous hands in Alloy's "Hollywood is Like High School")....got to know Producer.

October - Get hired by said Alloy Producer to act as Script Supervisor on reality Alloy's webseries, "Casting Call." Ended up playing a bunch of different roles--helping with interview questions, actually interviewing girls, jogging down judges notes to be re-hashed later, etc). While at lunch, Producer found out I was also interested in Directing and Producing.

November - Producer asks me to come onto their next project as Script Supervisor during production, but to also act as Director's Assistant beforehand (since he he previously found out I was interested in that kind of thing). I accept.

January - During Pre-Production, I spent a lot of time getting to know Alloy employees and execs during meetings, script notes sessions, etc.

February - "Talent" shoot

March - Friend at UTA sends me an ad from Alloy looking for an Assistant Talent Coordinator....I call up Producer who finds out who at the company to directly forward my resume, another Alloy friend I met on set hand-delivers my resume to the stack. Producer I'd worked with calls up the head of the department and gives him glittering review of me. Phone interview goes well, in-person interview is even better....and what do you know, a job!

So that's how it works. It takes a while for something great to land in your lap. But by golly, it sure does happen.

Good things happen to those who work hard and truly want them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Panel: Legal Issues for Filmmakers

REEL Ladies Producers Corner Presents

Legal Issues for Filmmakers: "Dispelling Legal Myths and Half-Truths"

This seminar will deconstruct pervasive legal myths and delve into the
legal issues every filmmaker should know. Attendees will learn how to
protect a project from development to distribution.

Presenters:

Toni Y. Long, Esq.
Jennifer Provencher, Esq.
Karen Thompson, Esq.


WHEN

WHERE
Actors Key

COST
Platinum Members/Producers Corner Members: $25
General Public: $40 Advance Registration/$50 at the door


*Wine, Refreshments & Appetizers Included*

PANEL DISCUSSION and Q&A

1. Setting Up Your Company
Choosing Type of Entity, Hiring Lawyer & Accountant, Financing Your Film

2. Development
Drafting Business Plan & Budget, Obtaining a Screenplay, Literary
Acquisitions, Life Rights, Copyright & WGA

3. Pre-Production
Labor & Employment Law, Hiring Crew, Dealing with Guilds

4. Production
Permits, Permissions & Agreements

5. Post Production
Hiring Post Production Staff, Licensing Music

6. Distribution
Hire an Attorney!

*** I thought this sounded great, might see you there! ***

LA Film Festival Seeks Interns


Seeking: Progamming Intern


This is a Part Time Unpaid Internship

Location: Los Angeles, CA


Details: Programming interns assist the Los Angeles Film Festival PRogramming Department in organizing and cataloguing all film submissions (Features, Shorts, Music, Videos). In addition to providing administrative support in regards to submissions, interns are also invited to screen and rate a selection of films.


Interns must be able to commit to 8 hours a week (one 8-hour day or two 4-hour days) for a minimum of 2 months prior to the festival. Start dates are flexible. The Los Angeles Film Festival runs June 16-26, 2011.


Salary: School credit if applicable. Vouchers for festival screenings available if minimum commitment time has been completed.

Contact: Please send an email detailing any professional or academic experience you may have to jwilson@filmindependent.org. Include your contact info.


Note: Interns are responsible for their own parking.


*** Could be a fun way to network and see some great projects for free! I've had friends do it in the past and they always enjoyed it ***

Focus Features Summer Internships







Click pamphlet to see text larger!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!


Happy International Women's Day!

In celebration of women, I'm posting an article about 10 [Awesome] Women Who Made Cinematic History:


Many of the women are lesser known filmic pioneers, so it makes for a very interesting and enlightening article!

Go girls :)



The Likeability Bias


Sharpen those social skill because you are gonna need them.

Whether your working in an office or on a film set, entertainment industry hours are LONG. Pretty much everyone can expect to be working at least 10 hour days. And isn't it nice when you can have a friend there working along side you? After all, friends inevitably help make the time pass more quickly.

Its a proven fact in this business people prefer to work with people they like. They will gladly pass up an amazingly talented being who isn't such a great communicator, for the loveable so-so worker who is a joy to be around. If someone is bossy or talks about themselves too much or is a straight up creeper, it's almost irrelevant whether or not he is competent. After all, no one would want to work with him! On the other hand, when we like someone, we manage to draw out each of their positive attributes to proclaim them perfectly suitable for the job.

According to Harvard Professor, Tiziana Casciaro, people tend to like other people who are similar to themselves, people who, they are familiar with, people who have reciprocal positive feelings to each other, and people who are inherently attractive, either in their appearance or personality (i.e. considerate, cheerful, generous, and so on). People are also more likely to notice an increase in your likeability, than an increase in your skills. Someone people who lack social competence end up looking like they lack other competencies as well.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) BODY LANGUAGE - Remember: tone, voice, and body language account for 90% of communication. When you are listening to someone, maintain steady eye contact and lean in--this shows that you are actively listening and taking in what they have to say. Avoid crossing your arms or slouching, this silently gives off a "keep away" atmosphere.

2) LISTEN - Everybody loves talking about themselves and thus this is probably the most under appreciated social skill. But listening not only allows you to get to know the other person, it also allows for potential paths for conversation.

3) ASK - People love to talk about themselves! Ask them about their background, how they got to be where they are, where they went to school, these are all great conversation starters....and you might realize you have something in common and that can act as a springboard towards friendship!

4) POSITIVITY - Life is so much happier with the glass half full. People prefer to be around those who bring up the energy, not bring it down. Being around cheerful people improves the atmosphere of the work environment and allows for peaceful and happy workflow.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The In Between




After working 15 hour days and forcing your eyes open thru night shoots, the opportunity to stay home and do nothing can seem a godsend. However, after about two weeks of this, the novelty of sleeping in til 10am, watching movies all day, and not getting out of bed can start to feel rather banal. And you get that itch to go back to work.

Perhaps you are sending out resumes every day and nothing seems to come of it, and you start worrying--where will your next job come from??

In these moments of unemployment, I find it best to start project. Find something to do that will make you a more well rounded person for when you finally do get that interview. Learn a new skill, invent something, become an expert on a subject. Anything you find productive.

In my time at home, here are a few things I have taken to:

1. Start a blog - this helps me get my thoughts in order and also encourages me to look at other peoples blogs and start conversations with fellow film bloggers. I've actually met several cool people out there in the blogosphere who I now consider friends :)

2. Get in shape - I love trying new forms of exercise, my latest affinity is for Cardio Barre--I highly recommend giving it a try, it gives you a great workout, and the real topper is that you get to feel pretty while doing it! Working out also helps relieve some of the stress of being unemployed :)

3. Write a webseries - I suggest webseries because they are generally shorter than a feature screenplay or spec television script. Everybody has little ideas that pop into their heads, and even the non-writer can usually manage a webseries. I am currently working with a partner on one--which is also a great tactic because you can keep each other motivated!

4. Watch AFI's Top 100 Movies - after watching the Oscars, I always get on a movie binge and want to watch every great piece of cinema that I can get my hands on. Knowledge of classic cinema is part of being a more well-rounded filmmaker.

5. Read read read - After all, reading is a great way to find new stories and ideas for film/television! Understanding the fundamentals of what makes a great story great is invaluable. If you need a few recommendations, my favorites of this past month have been: The Book Thief, Sarah's Key, and Cutting for Stone.

6. Get your finances in order - Tax season got me thinking that next year I want to be very prepared and organized. I setup a new system for keeping track of my paychecks and receipts. There are two great sites that I discovered that I thought I'd share: Mint & LearnVest. Both are designed to help you better manage your money.

7. Create personal website - Great way to showcase yourself and your accomplishments. iWeb makes web design very simple and fun these days!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Diary of a Film Student


And so goes another wonderful day on the set of "Life After Film School."

Today I had the opportunity to interview producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson about their newest film, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," based on the very popular book series by Jeff Kinney. It was an insightful discussion and I thought I'd share a few memorable points from the interview.

One of my favorite things that was said was Brad’s advice to “Get in the room with people whose jobs you want to have someday.” Always be there watching and learning from your superiors. Be attentive, enthusiastic, and most importantly—be likeable and you will rise thru the ranks quickly. I loved this advice because as I’ve matured I’ve realized and accepted that I’m not going to start at the top. I’m going to have to “pay my dues” as they put it….and I think I’m okay with that—as long as I am at a company that I’m enthusiastic about and love the work they are doing, I will be happy performing mundane tasks such as grabbing coffee and taking phone calls.

Nina and Brad both spoke about the importance to learning. Some movies are going to work, some will fail, some will never see the light of day, while others will go on to become surprise hits. Regardless of how a film performs, it is always a learning experience—an opportunity to take away valuable something. Brad spoke of an elderly director he had collaborated with who was still working in his 80s! Brad’s reasoning for this was that the director had never stopped learning and evolving. He was constantly asking what, how, and why. He was interested in learning about social media and wasn’t narrow-minded, despite being at an age where learning about newfangled things could seem daunting. This goes to show that learning doesn’t stop with graduation. In actuality, life is all a learning experience—and you are never too old to stop gaining knowledge.

I, personally, love kids and enjoy working with them. So I asked Brad and Nina about their experiences working with a cast made up almost entirely of children. They both smiled—it’s clear the event evoked fond sentiments. They told us that the energy on set was contagious; there is a tendency among adults to become jaded by movie-making, but kids are a totally different story. They all felt so incredibly lucky to be there. After all, they were getting to inhabit characters from a series that they themselves and all their friends had read and worshipped! Brad and Nina shared an occasion in which the little boy who plays Raleigh came to set one day to find that they were going to be wearing aprons in the scene. He loudly went running to his dad—“Dad! DAD! We get to wear aprons today!!!” His joy over such a seemingly silly costuming item had the whole crew rolling over laughing and brought smiles to their faces for hours. Kids have an innate power to subtly lighten the mood and remind grown ups of the simple pleasures in all of our lives--such as aprons :)

Stay tuned for video link in a few weeks! And make sure to go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules! It's a charming, funny film that kids and anyone who has gone through the awkwardness of pre-adolescence can relate to and thoroughly enjoy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Online Dating for Networking

Recently, I wrote about the importance of putting yourself out there when job hunting, and today I wanted to just touch on a seemingly silly activity that actually does seem to help--online dating.

So, in moments of severe boredom, I admit that I have taken a peak at some of the dating sites out there these days. I setup a profile, write an about me (specifying that I work in entertainment), put up a few pictures, etc. After a few minutes (literally), the messages start coming in. And I have been very surprised by the number of people who mention that they are also in entertainment. I love creative people and have always liked being with other people who are also in film in some capacity--I guess this feeling is pretty common in this industry because a large percentage of the people who message me are also in the industry.

I don't really expect to find my soul mate online, but I've gotten drinks with several people and even if we don't want to date long term....I've managed to find some good contacts! And even had a few job leads come my way via people I met :)

After all, it really is all about who you know!




Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everyone in LA is a Writer....

Including those in the adult world apparently....

My friend received this email in regards to a craigslist post he put up looking for new webisode material. I thought it was funny.




Confessions of a Juggler


I read this short essay by Tina Fey, which I found quite good.


I know I'm a little young to be worrying about being a working mom in Hollywood, but it is something I ponder from time to time. I've always felt that I don't want to have to give up anything. I want a Hollywood career and a family all at the same time. Blessed with three hard-working and ambitious daughters, my parents instilled in us a sense of female empowerment and we were taught from an early age that we could do anything. I remember being little and telling my mother that I was just going to marry someone rich when I grew up so I never had to worry about money. This was by far the worst thing I ever could have said out loud, in her opinion. She told me not to rely on that but to instead make my own money....which was something more in my control. So I've always felt a responsibility to my gender to find a way to have a successful career.

In her article, Tina says: "The fastest remedy for this “women are crazy” situation is for more women to become producers and hire diverse women of various ages." Sadly, women are a scarcity in top level film jobs. According to The Los Angeles Times, "A woman is more likely to hold a seat on a Fortune 500 company board (15%), serve as a member of the clergy (15%) or work as an aerospace engineer (10%) than she is to direct a Hollywood movie (7%)." Now that is just sad! We women need to stick together and with a little determination maybe we can remedy this harrowing statistic. And with more women in top level positions, perhaps someday the "baby-verses-work" question will not be so much of an either or situation, and the balance between a career and family can reach equilibrium.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Job Hunting

The film business is a tough one, indeed. Especially in these economic times. Well actually, that is just a guess since I've only actually been in the job market 8 months. But I'm just going to guess that it is at least a little tougher.

Someone once told me that looking for a job, IS a full time job. And I believe this somewhat. You can spend days looking online for job openings. You can be as on top of it as they come--excellent resume, beautifully written cover letter, great references.....and still you wait by the phone, and nothing.

It's because in this business, it's all who you know. I can easily say that all of the cool, fun jobs I've gotten have been thru people I knew....either people I graduated with, friends from home who now live in LA, family friends, people I met thru internships, etc. I have gotten a few (let's say about 1 out of 100 submitted resumes) random calls, but they usually turn out to be for companies I've never heard of that don't seem to have much credence.

So in my humble opinion, you are far better off getting out of the house--go to a bar, volunteer at a homeless shelter, go join a squash game at your gym (squash seems very popular among the film crowd)--and MEETING people. I know often times you feel guilty, if you aren't forcing yourself to sit at the computer screen robotically submitting resumes, but you really really do have a greater chance of finding a job by putting yourself out there in LA.

Even if you do find a listing for your dream job online, your resume has a way higher chance of being read if you have someone in the industry submitting your resume and vouching FOR you. I know we all want to be proactive and feel like we are doing things on our own, but its a sad fact that nepotism is alive and well in Hollywood. So jump on that bandwagon and milk every contact you can!!!

Life of a Hollywood Assistant

A friend at UTA sent this to me. It's pretty funny (and sadly, sometimes accurate) portrayal of life as a Hollywood assistant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmB_nnQALCI

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Office vs. The Set

Well hello friends. Sorry for the extended absence. Life has been quite busy--I spent a couple months as a director's assistant for Alloy Entertainment's digital division during the pre-production of a rather large scale webseries, and then during production acted as script supervisor. The crew was great and I really am looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Now I am just pondering my next big move. I have long since heard that going the agency route is a wonderful way to learn about the industry, as well as to get to know future power players in the film world. The big agencies seem to be at the center of this industry, with scripts, actors, filmmakers coming into them and packages flowing out of them. Producers have told me over and over again that it is a great first stepping stone to take after getting out of film school.

At this time, I have an opportunity for a job at one of the big agencies. However, in spite of all the advantages, I am a little leery. Taking long term jobs is scary. So far everything I have done has been freelance....which is nice, because even if the gig sucks, you are done with it after several weeks and can go on to something else.

I guess the big decision right now, is the office vs. the set. I love being on set, but the freelance lifestyle can get a bit stressful--never knowing where your next paycheck will come from. However, on set, I get to perform a job that has a bit more prestige than being someone's assistant. As script supervisor on set, I have people bringing me coffee; as an assistant in an office, I will be bringing other people coffee. I am fine with that, but it is definitely something to think about.

Here is how it breaks down:

Agency (The Office):
  • Great opportunity to network
  • Fabulous learning experience that teaches you about all phases of the industry
  • Rigorous, but really prepares you for any job you get afterwards
  • Opens doors to many other career opportunities, thru the people you meet
  • Many studio execs, agents, managers, and producers have started in the mailrooms at big agencies
  • Consistant Pay
  • Job security & consistency--knowledge of exactly where you are going to work each day and at what time
  • Long hours but less than on set
  • Low hourly rate (9-10/hour in mailroom, small bump once you become an assistant on a desk)
  • Administrative work that does not have much of a creative component
  • Possibility of interacting with difficult personalities and being subjected to subhuman treatment (not a guarantee, but one does hear stories....)

Production (The Set):
  • Exciting and exhilarating atmosphere
  • Getting to be an important part of a film and having a direct impact on the outcome of the film
  • Opportunity to work hard for several weeks and then take time for yourself....can book appointments during the day and get things done on your off periods
  • Each project brings with it new people to meet and contacts to be made
  • Better hourly rate than most office-based assistant positions + lots of money for overtime
  • There is a good chance of extended time periods with no work
  • Very long hours (12+ hours a day)
  • Being a key player on set right out of college is great, but there is not much upward mobility since Script Supervisors are the only ones in their department - so the experience does not lend itself to other jobs