Resources to Educate & Inspire You!

As you pursue your dream career, here are a few entertainment career resources to guide, motivate, educate and inspire you!

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The Year of the King is hands-down my favorite acting book.  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.  Second, it’s quirky and funny and very authentic.  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, you are really in for a treat!

  I often get asked what my favorite book on directing is.  A Sense of Direction is that book.  Here’s what’s amazing about it…  Unlike a lot books on craft of directing, this is a book on process written by a highly accomplished director.  Most books on directing are written by non-directors, and most directors are not really writers.  So, to get a great book written by a great director is really special.  And, because it’s the explanation of William Ball’s process– down to what clothes he wears to rehearsals and the reasons why– it’s nuanced and highly idiosyncratic.  Directing is an art form and craft that is both vast and incredibly granular.  He attacks his explanation of his process bearing all of this in mind.  Plus he founded the legendary American Conservatory Theatre, and his insight into that experience is also well worth the read.  A classic.
 Save the Cat is my favorite screenwriting book.  There are several good ones out there, but this one is my favorite.  Why?  First, Blake Snyder really hammers home the importance of a great logline before you start writing.  So, he not only talks about what makes a strong logline, but also why a good one is so important.  He also breaks down the structure of a screenplay in a way that is simple, practical and fun.  You can follow his breakdown (it’s not too convoluted), you can use it and refer back to it, and you can laugh at his descriptions as you are struggling to come up with solutions to the predicaments you’ve gotten your characters into.  One caveat: Since Blake was a comedy writer, the book is heavily slanted to the demands of comedy.  This is all well and good, but there are some nuances that are definitely missing if you are writing a drama.  But, this shouldn’t stop you from buying and devouring this book.  A must read.
  In my mind, The Artist’s Way is the definitive book on finding and honing your process as an artist.  It won’t teach you to act or sing or direct or paint, but you will discover your own way of working at each of those things, your inner voice, and your way of navigating the creative obstacles that inevitably come up in the pursuit of any art that’s really got something to say.  I believe this book is an absolute must for anyone who calls themselves an artist, no matter where you are in your journey.
  This is one of the classics of the self-help field.  And there’s a reason for it…  The principles it articulates are the foundation of all success.  I go back to this book at least once a year because mastery of the 7 Habits is both the journey of a lifetime and a practical challenge day in, day out.  If you’ve not read this book, or haven’t read it in a while, I highly recommend buying it and putting it on your bedside table or in your office.  Reminding yourself to work these tools is a gift you will give yourself that will reap rewards exponentially.
  I had the good fortune to be mentored by the writer of this book, Michael Donaldson.  This book teaches powerful techniques for the big negotiation of a job, a purchase, or a contract.  And, these techniques and the understanding they bring will help you in all the smaller negotiations of your everyday life.  It will help you understand what you want, how to communicate it, and how to actually get it no matter how complex the negotiation.  And, it will help you understand the wants and needs of the person across the table, so that the negotiation sticks and, ideally, everyone is happy.
  Have you ever wondered about the “overnight success” stories you read?  It seems like they must be missing something, right?  There’s so much that the person must have done that’s left unsaid.  Well, Malcolm Gladwell felt the same way.  So, he went on a quest to understand what makes a success, specifically overnight success.  It’s a fascinating and inspiring read.  If you’re feeling that the grass is greener somewhere else, for someone else, then definitely read this book.
Blink is another fascinating account by Malcolm Gladwell.  In it he uncovers the way we think without thinking.  Sometimes called first impressions, he gets at the heart of how our unconscious, split-second behaviors and reactions inform an astonishing amount of our lives.
  The Tipping Point is an engrossing account of the roots of social phenomenons.  If you want to understand how the ebbs and flows of popular culture occur, this is a book to read.
 If you read the New Yorker and appreciate Malcolm Gladwell’s thought-provoking articles, many of them are compiled here.  One of my favorite short form books, ever!
So, now for some terrific reading just of the sake of terrific reading.  E.L. Doctorow is a writer for the ages, and The March is almost impossible to put down.  Set against Sherman’s march through the South at the end of the Civil War, Doctorow’s ability to get into the heads of those the march affected and to bring them to life in an instant is breathtaking.  I couldn’t put it down.
 I sense a trend with my recommendations for reading pleasure… The Civil War.  I’m not sure why these two happened to rise to the top of my pleasure-reading recommendations, but Team of Rivals is a page turner.   And, dare I say, we can all learn from Lincoln.  Talk about a master of the decision, a master at managing disparate, opposing and powerful forces.  You don’t need to be a history buff to love this book.