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


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


8447 Wilshire Ste 210

Beverly Hills, CA 90211


Comar Agency

Scheduling Coordinator


6500 Wilshire Blvd Ste 2240

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Exclusively entertainment temp agency.
Services all major entertainment companies.

A+ Employment Co, Inc



3500 W. Olive Ave. Ste. 303

Burbank, CA 91505

Executive Temps


2321 West Olive Ave

Burbank, CA 91506


Exclusively entertainment temp agency.
Services all major entertainment companies.

Central Casting
220 S. Flower St.
Burbank, CA 91502
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


Background acting

Apple One



888 S. Figueroa St., Suite 170

Los Angeles, CA 90017

(213) 892-0234

Not entertainment, mostly general office temp work

Beverly Hills:

9100 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 362W

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

(310) 228-9400


Some entertainment and general office work


1250 Westwood Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90024

(310) 475-9461

Some entertainment and general office work


325 West Broadway

Glendale, CA 91204


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...


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....


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....


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....


5) Compute Net Proceeds:

Gross Receipts --------------------------------------> 432.3 mil
Distribution Fees -----------------------------------> 127.1 mil
Distribution Expenses -----------------------------> 135 mil
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.


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.


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


Actors Key

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

*Wine, Refreshments & Appetizers Included*


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.