Thursday, August 21, 2008

The LOTTERY Ticket vs. Hard Work

The entertainment industry is NOT mysterious.

It doesn't require hocus-pocus to figure it out.

Knowing people helps... The saying "it's who you know" CAN really be true. And... often is.

In my estimation though.... there are 2 main ways to get into and stay working in FILM & TELEVISION:

1. The Lottery Ticket
2. Hard Word

Everyone wants the Lottery Ticket. Who wouldn't want that???
(Ok... I know the Lottery Ticket thing is on my mind lately... but, the analogy makes a lot of sense!)

Make a video... post it on You Tube... and get discovered.
Do it yourself. Upload fast. Broadcast to the world.
Super simple... and if the right person sees it... You could hit it big!!! (Or, at least be featured in a Weezer video!)
(Frankly this is no different than people being discovered on the Vaudeville stage, or a director spotting his new "star" at the five and dime, or a record exec discovering his newest big release at a small club in Liverpool... this is just this era's newest way to be discovered.)

Or... you could enter your Indie film in a film festival and WIN!! Followed by a distribution deal or a studio backing your next film.

Either way would be a form of winning THE LOTTERY TICKET.

The other way to make it is...


Start at the bottom and work your way up... and on the way, grow, learn, get poured into by other pros, and get paid for working in "the biz." (instead of waiting tables or flipping burgers).

Making it in FILM & TELEVISION must include talent & skill... but longevity will also require dependability, follow-thru, consistency, and availability. And oh yeah... the ability to problem-solve and have common sense.

For instance... START BY THINKING SIMPLE! (Otherwise known as the K.I.S.S. principle: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID)

Perfect example...

In 1986 I was working at NBC.
The day the Space Shuttle blew up... I was still working an entry-level job in Burbank. (I graduated college in 1984)

As the whirlwind of covering this tragedy unfolded, one of the producers ran through the office demanding,"get Chuck Yeager... NOW."

So, what's a young aspiring producer/director supposed to do??? Find Chuck Yeager!!

Now what???

Step 1: Who is Chuck Yeager?
The fact that I grew up during the Space Race, and the 80's were the days of THE RIGHT STUFF and AC/DELCO BATTERY commercials I automatically knew who Yeager was. Today... it would take a simple Google Search to figure that out.

Step 2: How do I reach Chuck Yeager?

What do we know?
Post Google search we know that he was a test pilot, and the first man to break the sound barrier. We also know he was pursued to be one of the first astronauts, and he was a spokesman for AC/DELCO Batteries.

Do we call NASA (that would be fruitless because he never was an astronaut).
Do we call AC/DELCO (he hasn't been a spokesman for them for more than a quarter century... so that doesn't pan out.)
Do we call the Air Force (he's been retired for many years... and they're not sure who would be in direct contact with him any more.)

So we could run down the road of pushing the Air Force to do more. We could contact book authors or film makers who have written or made movies about Yeager. We could even call his publisher... Other journalists who have written about him. This list could go on...


We could read more of our Google Search.

If that pile of research had been available to me in 1986 (instead I had a stack of Lexis/Nexis research) I would have read that he lived in Grass Valley, Calif. (Don't know where he lives now... but, he lived there then.)

So then what?

Remember... Keep It Simple...

Call 411!!!

I called information... asked for a number for Chuck Yeager in Grass Valley... and guess what.. He was LISTED!!!

I dialed the #, and the man on the other end of the phone answers: "YEAGER!"
It was actually Chuck Yeager!!! He answered his own phone and he was listed.

(These days... an on-line search might dig-up a publicly listed # for him.)

One of those other longer and more complicated paths might have worked... but the quick and easy one resulted in finding the man we were looking for! And... I was seen as resourceful, problem-solving, efficient and dependable!!! I had come through!

While Film/Television is hard... it doesn't have to be complicated.
It also isn't brain surgery.

Work Hard.
Think things through.

You can make it.
Even if you never get the Lottery Ticket.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Overnight Success

New film makers have just descended on CCM (The Center for Creative Media).

They have big dreams and huge vision.

It's exciting and inspirational to look into their eyes... the horizon is large and the possibilities loom larger.

For them, the next 2 years are going to be jam-packed with experience, learning, and discovered skills.

But... right now 2 years probably looks like an eternity.
In reality... the time will go by like a BLINK.

It's funny how we see things... based on our perceptions.

For instance... the concept of the OVERNIGHT SUCCESS.
Rarely are those successes anything close to OVERNIGHT.

OVERNIGHT is a designation usually bestowed on someone by the press.
The media has never heard of them, and they seem to come out of nowhere.
When the truth is most OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES are the product of many years of training, practice and hard work.

The challenge is though... everyone wants OVERNIGHT SUCCESS.
Who wouldn't embrace being an instant hit?
The problem is there are very few instant hits.

Compare the odds of becoming an instant hit with buying lottery tickets.
Millions of lottery tickets are sold while only 1 or 2 tickets wind up being the BIG WINNER. Not much skill involved here though right?? It's all a gamble.

Making it in the film/television biz isn't so much of a gamble as it is an exercise in talent and perseverance. But that doesn't change the odds of becoming the HUGE HIT. It just puts you a little bit more in control. Don't miss the point: While not a gamble... becoming the HUGE HIT is a long shot.

It CAN happen.
And it DOES happen.

But it IS possible to be an amazing film maker & story-teller and make huge impact while not being the OVERNIGHT SUCCESS or HUGE HIT.

Most professionals who have worked in "the biz" for decades are not living off of the money they earned from getting paid giant money for 1, 2 or 3 gigs. Instead they live off money they have earned by working many different projects consecutively and consistently. [Oh... sometimes we get paid LOTS of money... and it is possible to make A LOT of money for all the projects you work on] Stringing together an entire career of impact and amazing work is possible even if you never become a HUGE HIT.

In short:

Becoming a HUGE HIT is possible. And will be realized by some.
Becoming an OVERNIGHT SUCCESS 15 years into a lifetime career can happen.

But the best recipe is:

Work hard.
Compound TALENT with SKILL.
Be a great STORY TELLER.
Stay working!!
Consistent work = Ongoing opportunities.

Those items added together = a long successful career as a story teller.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

AMAZING Technology defeats Ham-Handed Dumbness

If you've ever dumped a drink on your laptop or dropped your cell phone in the toilet... You have to check out this new product that will crossout your clumsiness forever. I have no idea where to get this yet... but I must have it!!

Watch these videos... you won't believe it:

Golden Shellback Waterproof Coating from on Vimeo.

If you think this is a hoax... then they pulled the wool over NBC's eyes as well.