How to make it in Hollywood

Sadly, my time in Los Angeles has come to an end. After two months, I feel more knowledgeable, independent, and goal oriented than ever before thanks to my work at the New York Film Academy and my internship at Marvel.

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I spent most of my time in this office getting to know Ali, one of the production assistants on Thor

MEMORIES

Officially, my favorite memory working on Thor took place the first week when I was with the art and special effects departments. It was my first look into the technology that makes these big budget effects movies come to life and the incredible people that put it all together. (Unofficially, my favorite moment was meeting Chris Hemsworth) ūüėČ

INTERNING

Interning is professionally and personally valuable in many ways. It feels great to have interned in an industry I want to work in, lived in a city I want to live in, experienced it all with the peace of mind that I still have time to prepare before I jump into the workforce. I mean, I spent a good portion of my time filing¬†and shredding¬†paper, answering phones, and completing other office duties, but I was never bored or negative. It could be unabashed affinity of office supplies and¬†organizing, but I was always content with my assignments. My job was to make everyone else’s jobs easier and I was happy to do that any way they needed me to. You climb the ranks by doing what is asked of you, taking initiative when appropriate, and getting along with those around you. I was just happy to be getting a taste of the movie business.

Interning is like sampling at a restaurant. Imagine if you’re not sure what you want and you get the chance to try a little bit of everything before the rest of your party shows up. By the time the waiter comes around, you are more prepared to make an informed decision and when your dish arrives you know exactly what to expect. Such is the way with a career. If you can get a taste of what’s out there, you can take time in college to figure out what excites you and what doesn’t. Not to mention make connections in your industry of choice that could greatly aid your career climb.

Hollywood

HOW TO MAKE IT IN HOLLYWOOD

Okay, so there’s no formula for acquiring wealth and the admirations of millions. But there are some ways to play the game that can increase your odds of getting ahead. First of all, fame and fortune should not be your motivation, instead you should be your motivated by passion for your craft.

In the past two months, I have gotten to know many different people. Some are striving to become directors, some producers or actors, others corporate execs. Regardless of the goal, your best bet to make it big is to take action. If you want to become a director, you should be studying filmmaking, working on your own films, helping with others’ productions, watching tons of movies, putting together a reel, meeting other aspiring filmmakers, actors, handing out your business cards, directing people to your website (and your Twitter page, and your YouTube page, and any other social media outlet you deem necessary), studying the market…doing anything and everything to sharpen your skills and get noticed. The same principle applies to actors, producers, and corporate leaders but the ingredients in the recipe for success vary. My point: when pursuing a goal, to maximize the amount of “luck” that comes your way, you have to be exceptionally prepared for opportunities. This is by far the most important thing I learned this summer.

I met casting directors, producers, actors, studio executives, agents, and many other people that you’d love to run into on a daily basis as an aspiring ‘star’. However, for me this trip was exploratory and at every meeting and every mixer, I simply soaked in information, gradually pieced together my perception of the entertainment industry, and sorted out what side of it I wanted to be a part of. As an actress, I could meet a thousand casting directors, but without a couple of headshots, a reel of my work, a recommendation or two or an impressive education in the performing arts, and confidence in my abilities, few would give me the time of day. People flock to Hollywood from all over the world¬†in search of fame. A small percentage got noticed in the mall for having a good “look” or stumbled upon celebrity status for some other reason. The majority of those that “make it” will tell you it was hard work and luck that got them where they are. Even those that hit the jackpot after just one try wouldn’t have made it past 15 minutes without diligence. So the key ¬†to making it in Hollywood is simply knowing what you want and going after it.

I have yet to pinpoint exactly what I want. In general, the most I could do was network and make connections that I revisit once I return to Los Angeles (and meanwhile check in via the internet every few months). The next time I’m in the capital of entertainment, I will come with a specific goal in mind and action steps to get noticed.

Thank you for coming along on my trip by reading and commenting. Best of luck on your own journey!

The art of being a sponge

Week 7: Monday August 17th-Sunday August 23rd

This week was filled with interesting speakers, all of which had incredible stories and advice to offer to my group of students at the New York Film Academy. Actress Trilby Glover emphasized the importance of being self-motivated in a competitive industry; casting director Ronnie Yeskel expressed her fondness of bold choices, skill, and a great headshot for actors; director Brett Ratner inspired with his own insatiable enthusiasm and tales of his journey to success; actor Jason Alexander noted networking no-no’s. All in all, my goal was to absorb as much information from these people as possible and, with this new sense of enlightenment, chart plans for my own unique future in the business of entertainment.

My weekly update:

Monday August 17th: Marvel – Production Office

Tuesday August 18th: NYFA – Classes

Wednesday August 19th: NYFA – Classes; Master Class

Master Class with up and coming actress Trilby Glover

Thursday August 20th: Marvel – Production Office

Got a tour of the Iron Man 2 editing and special/visual effects departments today!

Friday August 21st: NYFA – Classes Master Classs

Master Class with famous casting director Ronnie Yeskel

Master Class with popular director Brett Ratner

Saturday August 22nd: BBQ at Brett Ratner’s house!

This incredible director welcomed a select group of students into his home, where he insisted on giving a grand tour.¬†In the lower level, Brett has his own private dance floor, specially designed for John Travolta and Olivia Newton John after the release of¬†Grease. Apparently, because they were so famous, they couldn’t go to clubs without interruption so the dance room was built just for them!¬†The home was filled with photographs of popular figures in entertainment who he had befriended such as Michael Jackson and Madonna. I also fulfilled a lifelong goal: seeing an orange Kid’s Choice Awards blimp up close : P After the tour, Brett treated us to lunch and screened various projects including his first student film from his days at NYU, music videos he’d directed for artists like Mariah Carey and Madonna, and a part of his new film New York, I Love You.

His energy was truly inspiring.

Sunday August 23rd: Q&A

Q&A with Jason Alexander at Warner Brothers Studios. In reply to an intriguing question, Jason spoke of not only networking, but networking in the most beneficial way. From my two months in LA I’ve deduced that when you are starting out in this industry and just beginning to build contacts, you encounter so many actors, producers, directors, agents, etc. that it’s difficult to distinguish who is legit from who is all talk no action. Jason’s tips: make sure the relationship can be a two way road, i.e. you each have something to bring to the table and collaboration could potentially enable a goal to be realized. He also cautions not to bring your resume or other information to one person who you believe can get in to the primary person you’re after. For example, Jason said he particularly dislikes when he is given things and asked to pass them on to Jerry Seinfeld ūüėõ

Next post…Last Week!

Show business is more business than show

Week 6: Monday August 10th-Sunday August 16th

This week I spent most of my time at the New York Film Academy where I take classes. I really enjoy the coursework (focused on acting and filmmaking) and have met some great fellow students who have quickly become friends. Something I found interesting is the consistent emphasis on networking and the benefit of a business or law background when approaching show business. I know that I will be prepared to tackle this industry with a Fisher College of Business education under my belt.

My weekly update:

Monday August 10th: Marvel ‚Äď Production Office

Tuesday August 11th: NYFA ‚Äď Classes; Film shoot

Shot student films on Universal lot (crew of four people, each gets a chance to serve as director, cinematographer, and actor-with two actors per film) Today was my debut as a director!

Wednesday August 12th: Marvel – Production Office

Thursday August 13th: NYFA – Classes, Film shoot

Friday August 14th: NBC Tour; Edited films we shot on Tuesday and Thursday

Saturday August 15th: NYFA Classes

After class today, there was a party held in honor of students at NYFA and the anniversary of a famed Russian talent agent. The first time I walked a red carpet (and hopefully not the last!)

Sunday August 16th: Casting Call; Screening

Attended audition for upcoming film. Later, private screening held for Middle Men, directed by George Gallo with a Q&A with Mr. Gallo after the show. NYFA students invited!

Next post…Week 7: Monday August 18th-Sunday August 23rd

 

A Perfect Getaway

Week 5: Monday August 3rd-Sunday August 9th

Meeting new people, gaining valuable knowledge about the industry I want to work in, exploring a city of sunshine, beaches, palm trees, and bright lights, learning the art of independence, even taking classes at the New York Film Academy! Living in Los Angeles has really become a perfect getaway. Little did I know that this term would take on a second, even more thrilling meaning in the context of my summer adventure.

Monday August 3rd: Marvel – Production Office

Tuesday August 4th: NYFA – Classes

“Director’s Craft” 11:30-2:00

Lunch, then got my Universal badge!

“Writing” 3:00-5:30

Break

“Acting for Film” 6:00-8:30

Back home

Wednesday August 5th: A Perfect Getaway, Red Carpet, Movie Premiere, and After Party!

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Pretty excited to run into Steve Zahn! Five minutes before this picture (below) was taken I walked by Dan Byrd, Hilary Duff’s co-star in A Cinderella Story. I happened to have spent a large portion of my youth worshipping Miss Duff, so I turned around and like a little girl I said, “Hey! I loved you in A Cinderella Story!” …Embarrasing, I know. He responded very kindly and we chatted for a couple of minutes. Basically the highlight of my night, haha… I’m glad I refrained from asking what it was like working with Hilary and if he thinks her and I would make good friends.

It was wild to see Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez, the rest of the cast, and a slew of other celebs at the after party. The life of the rich and famous sure is nice!

To my disappointment, Mila left for a flight to London right after the premier and Chris Hemsworth, the soon-to-be Thor himself, was M.I.A because of Marvel-related business.

With Steve Zahn

Thursday August 5th: Marvel – Production Office

Back to work at Marvel!

Friday August 6th: NYFA

“Acting for Film” 4:30 – 7:00

Out to dinner with some NYFA students

Saturday August 7th: NYFA

Guest Speaker Dana Lustig spoke of the ins and outs of independent, low-budget filmmaking. Her advice: if pursuing a career in this industry, don’t underestimate the importance of business knowhow. “The film business is still a business,” she said. And studying more of the legal, financial, and logistical side of things is something she wishes she had done more of back when she was just beginning her career. Dana also emphasized the importance of having big actors in your film, even (or especially) if it’s low budget. Big names attract money and attention to your work and in the end, the goal is to sell the film and create a profit for your investors (which they will ideally then re-invest into your next project). As far as markets go, Dana spoke of the lucrative nature of the foreign markets. The trend of shooting films in countries like Bulgaria, Romania, etc., where labor and other costs are cheaper, underlines¬†the importance of filmmakers creating and maintaining strong foreign relations.

Dana also spoke in depth about film distribution:

Two major markets: Domestic (US and sometimes Canada) and Foreign (elsewhere)

Main mediums of distribution: DVD, TV, Cable TV, Theatrical Release, Internet, Phone (now developing more), Airplanes/Cruise ships

Film markets: Annual events which attracts thousands of industry participants from all over the world who converge to buy and sell distribution rights for completed films or to gain financing for projects in various stages of production. This is a tradeshow where production and distribution deals are closed. Attendees generally include: acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Film_Market)

For a list of film markets visit: http://www.movieindustrymarketing.com/cgi-bin/gt/tpl.h,content=15

Film festivals: Today, many film markets are taking place in conjunction with film festivals. “A¬†film festival is an organized, extended presentation of¬†films in one or more¬†movie theaters or screening venues, usually in a single locality.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_festival)

Overall Dana states, “Never put your ego before the big picture. You want the picture to sell, to satisfy your creativity and artistic vision and to produce a ROI for your investors.”

Sunday August 8th: Beach and brainstorming

Headed to the beach to relax and write. Next week, I’m going to have the opportunity to shoot my own short film at the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios!

Keep a lookout for new video posts this week on My YouTube Page. For more pictures from my trip, check out My Flickr Page. Thanks for reading guys! Love reading your comments!

Next post…Monday August 10th-Sunday August 16th

In LA, you can be all over the world

Week 4: Monday July 27-Sunday August 2

From film sets to cultural attractions, Los Angeles offers a plethora of places to explore. Every week I walk by “New York City” before I enter the worlds of the Norse Mythology within which Thor resides. This week, I even discovered different cultures with the help of famous artists from around the world.

Daily overview…

"New York" set outside of production office
"New York" set outside of production office

Monday July 27th: Marvel – Production Office

Tuesday July 28th: Free Day

Wednesday July 29th: Marvel – Production Office

Thursday July 30th: NYFA

Traveled to conduct promotion…

12:00-8:00 Venice

Friday July 31st: TV Production

Tennis scene
Tennis scene

In this industry, chance encounters can often lead to great opportunities. On July 15th, Marvel studios held a free lunch and business fair outside of the studio cafe. Before getting my meal, I stopped to get a free 5-minute massage from the on-site (on the lot) masseuse, Kim. After chatting with her for a few minutes, she revealed that her husband was a writer/producer and in the process of putting together a “spec” (“speculative…shopped or sold on the open market, as opposed to one commissioned by a studio or production company.”) TV pilot for HBO. A week later I got a call from her saying they wanted me on board as a production assistant, or a “P.A.”

On Friday I met with Kim and her husband Paul and helped “dress the set” (“decorative with props and furnishings to add to a stage setting”) for the first shot of the day on Saturday. Then went to pick up some equipment for the shoot.

Saturday August 1st: TV Production

Call Time: 8:00 AMOn location
Arrived at first location and for the rest of the day assisted with production in any way needed, from handling “craft services” (food) and ordering/picking up lunch for the cast and crew to being a background actor.

We finally wrapped at 8 PM and headed to dinner on the pier in Manhattan Beach. I met some incredible people and really had a blast.

Sunday August 2nd: Free Day

DSC01479Visited The Getty Museum! Then had dinner with a friend in Hermosa Beach, which, along with neighboring beaches, was the site of the International Surf Festival. The band ALO was playing right on the beach and a large group of people gathered around. The moment exemplified So Cal – reggae beats, warm sun, setting slowly, tons of people chillin out and jammin away as they sip cool drinks by the beach. It was the perfect day.

Next post…Monday August 3rd-Sunday August 9th