Archive for the ‘movie business’ Category

How Are You The Solution to Someone’s Problem?

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

I just recently coached my one month intensive Jump Start™, and something came up throughout the weekend that feels worthy of a blog.  It’s the idea of being the solution to someone’s problem.

Problem-Solution-ResultSo, let me back up for a moment and give this idea some context. Because, often in this business, we are highly driven and focused. This is not a bad thing, but it can have a downside. That downside is that in our drive and focus, we only think about ourselves.

And what that looks like day-to-day is a “me, me, me” attitude. We are only looking for the solution to our own problem—the person we need to meet, the thing we think they can do for us when we meet them, and so on. This can lead us to becoming that very thing we most loathe, desperate.

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What is it time to let go of?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

What is it time to let go of?

If you’ve been following me at all, you might know that I recently undertook a massive move with my family. My husband Gregory, who works in television most of the time, has described himself as a “FedEx package.” Meaning he gets shipped off to all sorts of locales for work. In the last two seasons months alone it’s been Mexico City, Savannah, GA, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, Toronto, Virginia, and Vancouver, BC. I might be forgetting one or two.

This is largely the result of runaway production. And since it’s unlikely to change in the near future, a few years ago we started strategizing a family move to a place where he’d be able to go to work in the morning and come home at night.

And so on August 1st Gregory, myself and our twin 5 year olds Niccola and Allegra all got into a u-haul pulling a car trailer and car alongside a mini-van packed to the top. We drove for three days and then crossed the border into Canada and pulled up at our new house in Vancouver.

Because Gregory was on the television show Fear The Walking Dead, the organization and packing largely fell to me. As you can imagine, it was a cathartic and confronting experience. We had lived in our townhouse for 11 years and in that time had gone from being a married couple to a family of four.

Over and over again I found myself asking the question, “What can you let go of?” And this question brings me to today’s blog.  (more…)

5 Ways to Have a Restful AND Productive Summer

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Who doesn’t love summer? It’s lazy, relaxing, hot, sun-filled.

And, if you’re an ambition person with big goals, well… It’s lazy, hot and sun-filled!

If you’re like a lot of people, you can’t wait for summer, but mid-way through you wonder where the time has gone. You realize you haven’t gotten much done!

Well, like the proverbial unfulfilled new year’s resolution, it’s time to turn this paradigm on it’s head. There is a way to enjoy your play and get your work done too! (Book a guest juicy star in July, anyone?)

Read on for the top 5 ways to have a restful AND productive summer. (more…)

What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

(How to actually use this freakin’ quote to accomplish your biggest goals)

Happy new year! I hope you’re reading this blog having gotten rest over the holidays, feeling rejuvenated and excited about what 2015 brings.

Every new year brings the possibility of great things. And, January is different from other times in the year, I’m sure you’ll agree. Every year I look to understand what my goals are for the new year and what I can do differently and better to bring them about.

QuoteFailv2Many of you know that 2014 was a year of great accomplishment for me. After nearly a decade of trying to get several different feature projects into production, I directed my first feature, Saturn Returns, which I also wrote. We are now nearing the end of post-production. I’m happy to report that even after all of these months in post-production and years in the making, I still love it and I’m really excited to share it with you all.

Another big accomplishment for me was how my coaching business grew last year even when I was in the midst of making a movie. It was an accomplishment to be able to continue helping people accomplish their own dreams even as I was accomplishing mine.

And so, in examining what was different about last year, what finally pushed my big goals across the finish line in a way that hadn’t happened before, I’ve uncovered some new things to share. Here goes…

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Are you waiting for Prince Charming?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Let me start by saying that this blog is not just for women.  It’s for men, too.

You might have heard me talk about this business, show business, being a business of big dreamers.  You didn’t move to LA or NYC, for example, and you don’t sacrifice your nights and weekends because you have an itty-bitty dream.  Nope.  You’ve got a big dream.  You know the one I mean.  The one that has you rehearse your speech in the shower.  That one.

prince charming

And I know that you work hard toward your dream.  I know that you sacrifice.  But over and over again, I see both women and men falling for a myth that often comes along with big dreams.  It’s the myth of Prince Charming.  And both women and men fall for it.  A lot.

Here’s what it looks like…  If I just get my film into Sundance it will sell for lots of money and Hollywood will come knocking on my door.  If it can just get a better agent, then I’ll get better auditions and it’s only a matter of time before I’m starring in a TV show.  If I can just get the money for my feature, my career will unfold the way it’s meant to be.  If I could just win a contest, then I’ll sell my script for lots of money!  And on and on and on…

And, just like there’s no Prince or Princess Charming in real life, there’s no Prince or Princess Charming in your career.

What’s the big deal, you ask?  Isn’t it okay to have hope?

Here’s why I feel it’s so important to write this blog.  Because wishing and hoping and waiting for Prince Charming is really demoralizing.  Being liberated of the Prince Charming myth turns out to be really freeing.

To understand why, let’s go back to the fairy tale for a minute.

The way the fairy tale goes, the princess has to wait for the prince.  She has to be perfect, even though she has no idea who the prince is or what he will want of her.  She’s helpless in the story, waiting for this mysterious person to pick her.  She doesn’t get to pick him.  She has no choice in the matter.  She has no power.

In the fairy tale, the prince always comes.  But in real life, we know that the prince does not always come.  Sometimes he never comes.  Sometimes a false prince comes. Sometimes a bad prince comes.  And even when Prince Charming actually does show up, it sucks spending your days trying to be perfect for him.  What about you want? Doesn’t that matter?

Actually what you want does matter.  But you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t spend your days waiting for the prince and also spend your days creating your own destiny.

My advice:  Spend your days creating the life and career you want and if or when a rad guy or gal shows up (they don’t have to be royal), and they fit your description of a good partner in your career or your life, you’ll have so much more to offer.

Sounds good, right?  So why do we keep falling for the myth?  Because it’s so much easier to wait and hope than to take responsibility for making your dreams happen.

It’s way easier to complain about not having an agent (or having a bad agent) then it is to get out and cultivate relationships and get those auditions ourselves.  It’s way easier to just send a script to a contest and hope for a good result then it is to network with producers and get them to read your scripts.  And man is it easier to wish for money then it is to raise it.

But after all that wishing, what do you have?  No agent, no auditions and no starring TV role.  Even if you have a contest win, you probably haven’t sold your script for lots of money.  You definitely have no money to make your film.  And you’ve wasted a lot of time wishing and hoping, playing it safe and getting frustrated.

Do yourself a favor and purge the Prince Charming myth once and for all.  Take responsibility for your career goals and go get them now.  Sure you’ll get rejected.  Sure you’ll get frustrated.  Sure you’ll be uncomfortable and afraid.  But it will be yours.  Your mistakes, your fear, and your victories and triumphs.

Go ahead and kick Prince Charming to the curb.  Don’t waste another minute.

Lose the Battle, Win the War: What that Really Means When it Comes to Directing

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

 

ShawnTalksWithNicholleTomSome of you have heard me talk about an amazing experience I was blessed to be a part of early my career.  I was a field producer for a BBC documentary on success and failure in Hollywood.  As part of an interview team of four people I participated in over 70 interviews with some of the most successful people in Hollywood.  From Kathleen Kennedy to Doug Wick after he’d won the Oscar for Gladiator to Akiva Goldsman who’d just won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind to Pierce Brosnan at his house.  It was like the best grad program in movie-making ever created.

We interviewed many, many producers and, as you’d guess, they all had lots to say about directors.  I heard more than one producer talk about directors who approach filmmaking like it’s an “act of war.”  As a young director who’d spent most of my career in the theatre at that point, I found this analogy really intriguing.  It’s not like the theatre was always touchy/feely, but I would never have called directing theatre an act of war. 

So, it was ironic to find myself using war metaphors when it came to directing Saturn Returns.  The emotional, physical and mentkeep-calm-and-win-the-waral challenges of directing a low budget feature in a small town 350 miles away from Los Angeles are immense.  The analogy of being a general in war in which there were many battles felt spot on.

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Pushing the Boulder Up the Hill: Getting That Dang Film Into Production

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Girls can do anything!If you didn’t already know this, I’m back from directing my first feature film.  We wrapped July 1st, a little less than a month ago.  I’ve recovered enough to start blogging about the experience.

I had a spontaneous Q and A today and there were lots of questions. But, this was the biggie that overshadowed them all…  How did you get that dang film into production?

This is a particularly poignant question because it took so long for me to get a film into production.  I worked on Saturn Returns for 5 years before we rolled camera.  I worked on a feature project before this one for 5 years.  I worked on another one before that for three years.  So, it’s taken a lot to get here.

As you can guess, there are several answers to this question, but let’s just start with commitment.  A year ago I came to a new place of commitment.  Let me tell you what it looked like:  I was going to shoot Saturn Returns in June 2014 or I was going to walk away from the project and from being a filmmaker.  No joke.  I didn’t come to this from a place of being mad or fed-up or desperate.  This decision was passionate but very calm.  I simply realized that the amount of work I’d done, the capacity I had to keep doing that amount of work, the patience of my husband and my supporters, all of this had a shelf-life and I was near the end of it.

So, I decided to pull out all of the stops.  Now, many of you know me and know that I’m a very committed, hard-working person.  So, this was a whole new level of energy, time and work.  I worked pretty much every night and weekend for an entire year.  This is in addition to my coaching business and to being the mother of three year old twins.  (No, I don’t have live-in help and I have very little family support besides my husband.)  It meant that every trip to Mammoth I had as many meetings as I could and sacrificed R and R.  It meant I worked every day of Christmas break.

I don’t tell you this to impress you.  I’m just telling you what it took.

But there’s more to it than just the hard work.  Because I’m not suggesting you live your life this way, far from it.

Simply put, I got willing to leave my dream behind if we didn’t go into production.  And I got clear that if I were to do that, I didn’t want to feel like I’d left anything on the sidelines.  I wanted to leave it all on the court.  No regrets for what I hadn’t done.

I didn’t make this decision because I thought it would be powerful, but it turned out to be extraordinarily empowering.  Every time someone came up with an objection, a concern, an obstacle, I weighed it against my commitment to go into production in June and my willingness to totally walk away from the project forever.   Push another year?  Sorry, no can do.  Push to September?  Same answer.  Wait for an actor?  Nothing doing.

Besides demanding that I work nearly every night and weekend for a year, this commitment had me doing things that were so far outside my comfort zone it surprised even me.  It had me asking things of people—investors, team members, actors and more—that I had previously been afraid to ask for.  And it had me doing it fast, with zero of the usual hand-wringing.  It had me doing things at a new level of ballsy, and I am no shrinking violet.

Really facing the prospect of walking away from my dream of directing a feature film had me look at my fears in a much more profound way then I ever have before.  I had to ask myself what I was willing to do for my dream.  No, the answer isn’t “anything.”  There are things I won’t do.  I won’t lie or cheat or steal or behave without integrity.  I won’t leave my husband or children for it.

But, I got willing to fail publicly.  That was a very, very big one for me.  And, I think it’s harder to risk failing publicly then it is to behave without integrity, frankly.

The other big answer to the question of how I got this dang film into and out of production is that I had one die-hard who was with me no matter what.  He happens to be my husband, Gregory.  And without him making this film wouldn’t have been possible.

It’s important to talk about this because big projects like this one don’t get done alone.  They take a team, as you know.  But it’s more nuanced then that.  Before the “team” there’s the one true believer that you absolutely must have.  You need one true believer who will stick by you no matter what.  And let me tell you, there was a time a few weeks out from our start date when everyone else dropped like flies.  We suddenly weren’t cool any more, and everyone else who’d been on for years fell like dominoes.  Though Gregory had doubts and concerns, he never stopped believing in the project and in me.  You gotta have someone like him.  Period.

So, this is the big answer to the big question of how I pushed this boulder up the hill and finally, after more then a decade, got my first feature into the can.  There’s a lot more to talk about and I promise I will do so.  Keep your eyes peeled for a blog on casting, one I’m going to call Riding the Bucking Bronco, aka Production, Coming Back to Earth (aka Transitioning Back to Your Real Life,) and more.

Hit me with questions, comments and thoughts.  It’s good to share it with you.  And, again, thank you so much for your support.

 

 

 

Create 2014: Design this Year to Be Everything You Desire

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Now that it’s the dawn of 2014, your mind is probably racing ahead to the days, the goals, the good times you want to see unfold.  You might still be relaxing (I hope you are!), but you’re starting to get antsy.  You might have thought of a few new year’s resolutions already.  But this time around, you want it to be different.  You want to really accomplish them!  Not just make them and then halfway accomplish them or give up on them.

If you haven’t yet done the Complete 2013 series of exercises from my previous blog, I highly recommend that you do them before starting the work below.  You can read all about them here.  It’s not too late to do them.  In fact, I normally do the completion exercises over the first weekend of the new year.  It just seems to work out that way.

Following, you’ll find Part 2 of the two-part structure, Create 2014.  As with Part 1, it will take a bit of time.  But, I promise that the reward of doing these two exercises will surprise you.  I do them every year and I love sharing this work with you all each year, to remind and inspired you.

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The most risky choice is not making one …

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Do you ever find yourself unable to make a decision.  Vacillating between two, three or even more choices?

The choices seem momentous.  Or, maybe they aren’t huge, but you know that each choice has consequences.  Each choice we make takes us down a road, or further down the road that we are on, and you want to make sure it’s the right road!

So, we vacillate back and forth, weighing the options and the risks associated with each one, playing out the possible effects, unable to make up our minds.  Eventually life takes over and we find ourselves on a road of some kind, going somewhere.

I’m here to tell you that the most risky choice is not making one.

Seriously.  Not choosing is choosing.

What’s that, again?

Not choosing is a choice, although we don’t usually think of it that way or treat it that way.

The fallacy is that by not making a choice, we think we are keeping our options open.  We think of this state of being as having power, because we are withholding our commitment.  We think we can bestow our commitment on some choice in the future.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this.  In the natural order of being, certainty trumps uncertainty, commitment and intention trump limbo.

As human beings, we crave commitment and certainty.  We need to know the sun is going to rise in the morning, or we can’t get out of bed, to bring it down to brass tacks.

So, in the absence of you making a choice, let’s be clear, a choice does get made.

What happens is that we allow others’ commitments, intentions and priorities to fill the void left by our own lack of commitment, priority and choice.

By not choosing, we allow others’ priorities to become your own. When you have a choice vacuum, it will get filled by others who have indeed made choices.

So what do you do when you can’t seem to make up your mind? 

First, give yourself a set amount of time.  Give yourself two hours or two days or until the end of the week to make a choice.  The scale and urgency of the choice will dictate how much time you should contemplate it.

Second, solicit input and advice, but do it carefully.  Not everyone is a good person to discuss your choices.  You need supportive confidantes who will also tell you the truth, not what they think you want to hear.

You also don’t need 10 opinions.  Two or three is a good number.  You don’t need to be even more overwhelmed because so many people are weighing in.

Third, make sure you are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.  You might want to write down a pro and con list for each option so that you can see it in front of you in black and white.  Often once you do this, the choice becomes obvious.

Fourth, when you reach your deadline, make the best choice you can with the options and information you’ve got.  Commit to your choice and get into action.

Fifth, refrain from second-guessing yourself until you’ve given your choice a chance.  If you’re constantly second-guessing, you aren’t really committing to your choice.

If you find that you can’t seem to stop second-guessing yourself, then use the old time trick.  Give yourself a date at which time you’ll assess and then get back into action.  The assessment date shouldn’t be too soon or too far out.  But if you aren’t sure, then just set a date, and, again, get into action.

Sixth… Be empowered!  It’s your life.  You’re the dog, not the tail.  Have your life instead of your life having you.  You will make mistakes and the “wrong” choice sometimes, but you will have made it.  There is power and freedom in making choices, so embrace it!

Here’s to all your great choices…

 

Summer Reading to Inspire & Educate You…

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Summer is well on its way.  Okay, soon to be over!  But, this blog about books to educate and inspire you has been on my mind for a while, so here it is.  These books are good any time of the year…

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My favorite book on Acting:  The Year of the King.   
This is hands-down my favorite.  And, I’ve read them all.

What do I love about it?  First, it’s incredibly practical.  Antony Sher really lets you into his head for his process.  He explains his challenges with the crazy amount of lines he had to memorize, for example, and how he conquered them.  He delves into moments that he doesn’t understand and how he makes sense of them.

Second, it’s quirky and funny and very authentic.  His voice is unblemished by any façade.  Third, the journal-style approach with his wonderful sketches is unlike any other acting book out there.  And, he humanizes one of Shakespeare’s great anti-heroes, Richard III, a man who tests most everything human.  If you haven’t read this  book yet, I highly recommend it!  You’re really in for a treat!

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