One of the most requested questions I have as an award-winning writer, producer and director is, “What does
The most important thing for the newcomer to
“Film schools serve as a good training ground but there really isn’t a replacement for doing it” – Brian Grazer, Producer
Writers and producers who can tap into their own life and create stories for the widest possible audiences stand the greatest chance in succeeding in the movie industry. Iconoclastic, personal dramas are best suited for film festivals and independent release. This is not a town looking for a quirky right-of-passage story unless it stars a recognizable star or has a marketing hook to exploit.
Here are some tips you can use to make your own way in the movie-making business (there’s that word again) and take meetings that matter.
1. Move to LA – Unless you’ve been getting substantial press or making money, you have to be in town and be local to spend face time with the development people who form the first line of defense at the castle walls. Get local and start looking for a place to stay as it’s going to take a while.
2. Face Facts – You’re going to have to find someone who can get you access to development people at the production companies that service the major (and minor) players. You need to impress this person with your work and prove to them you will not embarrass them if you get in the room. It’s all about relationships and you need to make contacts that count. Everyone claims to have something ‘in-development’. This is insider code. It often means they have nothing.
3. Network, Network, Network – Join support groups, attend industry functions, volunteer at AFI, UCLA, DGA, SAG and other industry meetings and learn the names and faces of key people. Never, ever approach them with a script. Always be respectful of their talents and skills and prove your worth by being indispensable. Just being able to be in the same room is a step forward. You need to research and understand the power dynamics before making a fatal error.
4. Timing Is Everything – Be prepared for a long wait. No one ever fails in
5. Work We Do For Money Not Love – You will find yourself (after much diligence) facing down an assignment that is not your first, second or even forty-third choice. Take the gig. Be thankful. Over deliver in what you are asked to do and complete your task in a timely matter. Diligence, dedication and the ability to work non-stop and around the clock is not only mandatory – it’s essential to your well-being and ability to move ahead.
6. Say Nothing. Ever. – Gossip is rampant and your words have power. You can talk your way out of a job or make a serious breach of protocol by discussing publicly your concerns, anger or grief. Sack up – cry in your car like a professional and take it. It will get better. Maybe not here – but it will get better.
7. Research Your Market Niche – Be specific about what you are writing (you are writing or have access to a property, right?) and know the players and companies. This information changes readily and without representation, you will be hard pressed to find anyone to look at your work.
8. Earn Representation – This town needs to know you are tied in with a recognized management firm or attorney. Never pay anyone to represent you and avoid like the plague organizations, conferences and associations that charge big bucks to read your work. Personal management is easier to secure than an agent. Attorneys can be paid to submit on your behalf.
9. Never Surrender – How badly do you want to produce your own work? Are you a director? You need to direct something and win an award and get press. It is often easier to do this outside of town that battle the costs and politics of filming in town. Are you a writer? Look around you at the coffee shops. Everyone is writing. I’ve lost count of the Willy Wonka Magic Ticket hopefuls that clog the local java outlets.
10. You Are An Outsider – This is quite ironic as you seldom meet any native-born colleagues. You must embrace your outsider status and look to your network for the breadcrumb trail that can get you your first meeting. Know that everyone was an outsider at one time and they made their way inside the castle walls. What are you willing to do?
The question you have to ask yourself (punk) is, “Do I feel lucky?” Effort, access and timing coupled with a knowledge of the industry and a well-placed patron (who you must never, ever embarrass) may get you though the door. It is up to you to keep that door open.
Source by Julian Grant