Archive for the ‘producer’ Category

5 Ways to Have a Restful AND Productive Summer

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

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…)

How Are You The Solution to Someone’s Problem?

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

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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Get Re-Connected to Your Why

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Often, we spend so much time talking about strategy, that we neglect some of the fundamentals.  So, I’m going to spend a few minutes today talking about one of the most important things in your career, your motivation behind your goals, also known as your Why.

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Your Why can look a lot of different ways.  You can be passionate about something.  You can identify with something.  You can have a dream or a desire or a love.  But, if you’ve been working on a project or goal for a while, chances are your Why has gotten buried a bit under the day-to-day demands.  The problem with this is that when we aren’t connected to our Why, it gets harder and harder to do the things we need to do toward our goal.  We feel unmotivated and we’re not sure why.

So here are 5 steps to reconnecting with your Why.

  • Go back to the first time you wanted to do what you’re doing. It could be the first time you ever wanted to act or write or direct or paint or produce.  Visualize that moment in time.  Where were you?  What were you thinking, feeling, doing?  Who were you with?  Close your eyes and recreate as much of that moment as you can.
  • What did that moment call up in you? A desire to do what?  Put that into words as clearly as you can.
  • Was there a change you wanted to make? A contribution?  Something you wanted to give or to share?

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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.

 

 

 

It Takes A Village

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

I am writing, as I promised, to share about the Saturn Returns process.  As we gear up for our shoot in June I’ve been learning so much!

One of the things I most want to share has to do with the idea of team.  Now, you probably know that I spend a lot of time talking about team building and leadership in my various classes and coaching.  Today I want to talk about something a little different.  To borrow from Hilary Clinton and the Nigerian Igbo culture, I want to talk about the idea that a project (or your career) “takes a village.”

You might have heard me talk about the idea that nothing of any scope or magnitude in life happens alone.  We can’t even procreate by ourselves, right?  Yet, this business can be extraordinarily isolating if we’re not careful.  We write alone.  We go to auditions alone.  We sit at our desks making calls or sending emails alone.  When we get to be a part of a group making something, it’s often short and fleeting, preceded and followed by a lot of work all by ourselves.

When it comes to Saturn Returns I’ve found myself using the phrase “it takes a village to make a film like this” over and over again.  And while that, in and of itself, has not been a big surprise, what that actually looks like and really means, practically speaking, has been surprising to me.  Here’s what I mean…

It takes a village, and you have to love the village.  A lot of actors I meet tell me “I just want to act.”  A lot of writers I meet tell me, “I just want to write.”  Ditto with directors, sound mixers, wardrobe stylists, you name it.

We feel we have a calling. There’s something that we love doing and we’re good at it.  If only all this other junk would just go away, we’d be so much happier and fulfilled.  We come to resent all this other stuff we have to do.  All the people we have to meet, the calls we have to make, the events we have to go to, the hustling we have to do.  Ugh.  When does it all end?

This is the village I’m talking about.  This is the village we have to love.  It would be so easy for me to resent how long it’s taken to raise the money for Saturn Returns, the number of meetings I’ve had that have gone nowhere, the number of people who’ve told me they’ll invest and then backed out, and on and on.  But one of the things that I’ve come to learn is that the village is every bit as much a part of making Saturn Returns as the actual filmmaking.  They go hand in hand.  There’s an idea that you can be a filmmaker without all of this other stuff, but, frankly, I think it’s a myth.  At least in this day and age.  And the sooner we kiss the myth of the pure filmmaker or pure artist, actor or writer good-bye, the better.  It’s like kissing the myth of Prince Charming good-bye.  Hard but so freeing once we do it.

So, my lesson is love your village the way you love your art.  You can’t have one without the other.  It can be hard to love your village, I know.  But, truth be told, some days it can be hard to love your art, right?  Your village and your art demand a lot out of you.  But it’s in the service of something important, something extraordinary, something you’ve dedicated your life to doing.

Gotta love the Village.

 

Why You Haven’t Accomplished Your Goal, Yet: Reason #1

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

A lot of clients find my coaching when they are really frustrated.  They are passionate, talented, committed and working hard.  And they don’t know why they haven’t reached their goals yet.

Boy do I understand.  More than you know.

So, I’m writing this blog to shed some light on the problem of being stopped, stuck, or not moving very fast.  Understanding the problem is critical to finding a solution.

There are four reasons why you haven’t accomplished your goals.  Today I’m going to deal with the first one:

You don’t really know what your goal is. 

Okay, okay.  You know you want to act.  Or write.  Or produce.  Or work in television.  Or do make-up.

I still maintain that you don’t really know what your goal is.  Not really.  Not specifically.

Knowing you “want to be a working actor,” for example, is not really knowing your goal.  That’s incredibly broad. Work in what?  TV?  Commercials?  Theatre?  On a cruise ship?

You can start to see how broad and non-specific your goal of “being a working actor” is.

Same with “be a make-up artist.”  If I hire you to do kids face painting at my twins’ birthday party, that would be doing make-up, right?  But, is that your goal?

So now that we understand this part of the problem, here’s how we tackle it.  The first step is to set some kind of timeframe for your goal.  One year is a place to start.

“By December 31, 2014, I will have…”

Notice that I put a specific date in the goal, and also that I wrote “will have.”  Not “will try to” or “hope to.”  Use declarative speaking and you’re a lot more likely to accomplish your goal.

Next let’s look at what would be a breakthrough for you.  A breakthrough is a goal that is not predictable and not impossible.

By predictable I mean a version of something you’ve already done.  If you’re working at the make-up counter of MAC and doing a friend’s webseries for free every six months, in a year from now it’s predictable that you’ll be, well, working at the counter of MAC and doing webseries for free. Nothing wrong with any of this, it just might not be your goal.

Let me clarify what I mean by impossible.  First, none of your goals is impossible in and of itself.  What makes your goal impossible is the timeframe you’re giving it.  If you’re working at MAC and your goal is to win an Oscar next year, you can see how that would be out of the realm of possibility given that you need to get a job on a feature that then gets made and released in time to have an Oscar campaign and then win.  Highly unlikely if you’re not even working in features yet.  You get the picture.

A breakthrough is the sweet spot in between impossible and predictable.  When you accomplish your breakthrough goal, it will cause a state change with your career or project.  This means that your career or project will be in a new, different and elevated place.  You’ll be at a new level.

Here’s what else there is to know about breakthroughs…  You don’t know how to accomplish it.  If you did, you’d have done it already.  This is one of the things that make it a breakthrough.

Also, what could be predictable for you, could be a breakthrough for someone else or even impossible for someone else.  Your breakthrough is unique to you, your credits, your resources, your relationships, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and more.

So, let’s take a look at a few more breakthrough goals…

By December 31, 2014 I will have worked on at least one project a month as a make-up artist and be earning at least $250/day. 

By December 31, 2014 I will have pitched and sold my first television pilot and turned in a great draft of the script. 

By December 31, 2014 I will have directed at least 3 television commercials with budgets of at least $50k each. 

Now the important thing to know is that each of these are specifically articulated with regards to where the person is currently in their career, what they’ve already accomplished, and where they want to go.  For the make-up artist, this would be someone who is only doing a job every few months earning $100/day or less.

For the writer, this would be someone who has written television scripts, ideally on staff, and has pitched a little bit already.

For the director, this would be someone who has directed one low budget spot already, who already has a reel, but now needs to start getting jobs as a commercial director with regularity.

Tune in next month for The Second Reason Why You Haven’t Accomplished Your Goal. 

To get tools and solutions to help you clarify and accomplish your goals, visit www.entertainmentcareerstrategy.com and click on “Coaching and Mentoring.”  Check out THRIVE and Jump Start™ to get started.

Love and Success!

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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How You Know When You Need To Take A Break

Monday, July 8th, 2013

You’ve felt it before…  You’re not tired but you have no energy.  You wonder why don’t have any motivation to write, make phone calls, submit yourself, go to acting class, you name it.  You feel guilty that you aren’t “getting anything done” but you don’t know how to get out of your funk and back into action.

You’re burned out, pure and simple.  You need a break, but you’re having a hard time admitting it.  Maybe you don’t even know how to take a break.  Or what kind of break you need.

In our 24/7/365 culture workaholism is not just the norm, it’s demanded, even celebrated.  People want to know why they didn’t hear back from us right away.  We feel bad when we’ve not responded immediately, when we unplug for even a few hours. We feel like we are really accomplishing things when we work through lunch or dinner.  We feel bad when we take a day off, like we need some kind of permission.

Well, I’m here to give you permission.  I’m here to tell you to take a day off, a week off, a month off if you need it.  I’m here to liberate you from all the guilt.  I’m here to empower you to take the breaks you need to restore balance to your life.  These breaks will in turn give you creative and emotional juice to make great art and create breakthroughs in your career.

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How To Work a Film Festival

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

This time of year is always great for me.  It’s the time of year when I celebrate both my birthday and my anniversary.  I met my husband at the LA Film Festival back when it was the LA Independent Film Festival and I worked there.  Meeting him commenced one of the very best parts of my life and has made for an enduring love of film festivals.

I also find film festivals to be inspiring and a great networking opportunity.  But, there’s a way to “do” them and not “do” them, I’ve found.  These tips and strategies are learned from the two seasons I spent working at the LA Independent Film Festival, and from attending countless film festivals as a filmmaker showing a film and as a film-lover enjoying the films and networking.

Here are my 10 tips for making the most of a film festival…

1)      Go.  Really go.  Buy a pass and get yourself to the festival as much as possible.  Get the pass that gives you both tickets to 5-15 films and access to the filmmaker lounge or networking lounge or whatever they call it.  “It” being the limited access location where you can hang out between films and where you’ll find filmmakers and other likeminded people.

2)      Select your films with an eye to the people you want to meet, but different films will generate different types of attendance.

There are generally 3 different categories of films.  By “categories” I don’t mean genres, I mean where the films are in the life of their releases.  For networking purposes, you need to know the types of films.  They are premieres, competition, and everything else.

Premieres and Competition:  Films that are premieres and in competition will be more likely to have the filmmakers present.  No filmmaker in their right mind will miss the world premiere of their film.  A world premiere will also likely generate the attendance of the actors and crew, so you’ll have a house full of people who worked on the film and a really fun and generous crowd.

Often films that are in competition will also be premieres, but not always.  Look for the designation “world premiere,” “U.S. premeire,” “West Coast premiere,” etc.  World premieres and U.S. premieres are the biggies and it goes down from there in terms of importance.  A film that has none of those designations and is simply playing the festival out of competition is the least likely to have the notable filmmakers attending.

3)      Do your research ahead of time.  Look at all the films that are playing.  Research the filmmakers.  See who is making the kind of films you are right for.    Watch their other work even if it’s only their reel on their website.  Think about what you’d like to acknowledge them for.

4)      Attend the screening with a purpose.  Once you’ve done your homework and are attending the screening, keep your eyes out for the filmmakers.  They will likely have a “filmmaker” badge—a specific color—with their name on it.  They will be lurking near the door of the theatre, hanging out nervously with an escort from the film festival.  They will be introduced before the screening and brought up for a Q and A after the screening.

Often the director is getting most of the attention, but the producers, writer, DP, actors and designers are attending as well.  This is an opportunity to introduce yourself and acknowledge these folks.  Be ready to share yourself in a short and powerful way.  (We work on personal loglines in Jump Start™ for exactly this purpose.)  If you’ve got a project you are working on, this can and should be part of your share.

By attending with a “purpose” I mean set a goal for yourself.  The goal could be “at these three screenings I want to meet and introduce myself to at least 2 producers and one director.”  Make it specific.  Give yourself some numbers.  Play it like it’s a game.

5)      Premieres generally have a party after them.  Most of the independent films that are premiering have an after party scheduled.  This is not the case for the studio films that are playing.  But, the smaller, independent films that are premiering at some level, will usually have a party at a local bar or restaurant.  And, if you go up and chat with the filmmakers after the film, they will usually be heading to the party and be happy for you, a supportive audience member, to come along.  You need to have your ears peeled for this info and have allowed yourself the time to go to it.  Go to the party!  Even if you feel like you might not belong, you need to go.  That’s where you’ll really get some good networking done.

6)      Don’t ask them to look at your work or give them anything other than a business card or postcard.  The introduction is the win.  At the event, just start a relationship.

7)      Definitely follow up.  You might have made some connections that led to exchanging business cards.  If so, that’s great.  Follow-up with an email and a Facebook friend request.  If it’s someone you’d really like to sit down with, invite them to coffee.

In your follow-up use all the same tools you used in first meeting them. Acknowledge, share yourself powerfully, and make a specific request that’s easy to say “yes” to if that is what you want to do.  Then, articulate how you will follow up if that’s appropriate to the email.  (For more on these steps check out my Audio and Workbook How To Open Doors.)

You might not have exchanged business cards, but I guarantee you that the film has a website with contact info.  The filmmaker most likely will have their own website with contact info as well.  Craft an email following up just like you would if you had their business card using the steps listed above.

8)      Ask to be kept up to date on the progress of their film and their other projects.  Most film projects have a newsletter, Facebook page, etc. that are used to build their audience and communicate with their community.  “Like” the page and subscribe to the newsletter.  Be generous in your support.  It will serve you because you’ll know what’s going on with the filmmaker and the project.  And, it will aid you in building a relationship with a filmmaker whose work you admire.  This is the basis for jobs later on down the line.

9)      Don’t neglect the people you’re sitting next to.   Filmmakers go to film festivals.  Producers, directors, executives, managers, agents, actors and designers go to film festivals.  The opportunity to network with the people in the audience or hanging out in the lounge is as important as the access to the people doing the Q and A.  Use all of the tools of Pitching Yourself Powerfully™ to make the most of these opportunities, too.

10)  Pace yourself.  It takes energy to watch films and meet people.  The LA Film Festival is 10 days long.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.  You will get the hang of how things work after a few days and become expert at all of the things I’ve outlined above.  But, you don’t want to burn out early.

Film festivals are also an opportunity to get re-invigorated creatively.  They are an opportunity to be reminded of why you love the movies and wanted to be in this very challenging business.

If you operate from this place of love and creativity and generosity, you are far more likely to connect with people in ways that make for long-lasting relationships.  I’ve made many friends at film festivals– met new people and reconnected with old friends.  As I said, I met the man who became my husband.  I also reconnected with a friend I met on the first day of college who became my very best friend on the planet and was the maid of honor at my wedding.

Think of a film festival as both an exotic plant hothouse and the Rose Bowl swap meet.  In that context, anything is possible.  Enjoy!

 

 

Complete 2012 Powerfully + Launch 2013 with Commitment Part 1

Friday, December 21st, 2012

As the year winds down perhaps you’re having a few thoughts about how 2012 has gone.  Well, okay, more than a few.  And perhaps there are some ideas floating around about what you hope and dream for in 2013.

This post is designed to help you with a bit of structure.  There are times that are great for musing, certainly. And once that’s done, some simple, effective structure can help you take those musings, solidify them, and get to work making them a reality.

Following, you’ll find Part 1 of a two-part structure, Completing 2012 Powerfully.  This will take a bit of time, but the reward will surprise you.  I do this every year with my husband and it’s one of my favorite things we do together all year long.

First, I encourage you to carve out time for yourself.  Go somewhere that you can focus on this important work, but still be relaxed.  For me, it’s one of two favorite cafes.  An extra hot vanilla latte at King’s Road does wonders for putting me in the right zone.

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