hollywood-sign

This was an email I received that pretty much sums up how to make it out here. It was authored by Marc Zicree (imdb link). Enjoy.

“Actors and writers and producers and directors – especially beginning
ones – are often running around crazily to networking events big and
small, attending Pitchfests and Industry Expos, feverishly sending out
postcards and headshots, reading endless books on the Industry – many
of which lay down so many self-contradictory theories and rules that
they’re only left more lost and confused than when they started.

Making it in Hollywood is simple, which isn’t to say it’s easy.  But
based on several decades in the business (and counting), it boils down
to this:

1. Get clear on what you want to accomplish.  Aim as high as you
possibly can.  You don’t have to start at the bottom.  You can start
at the top, if your work justifies you belong there.

2. Create something that shows the finest quality of what you can do.
It doesn’t have to be long, just good – one or two minutes is fine;
most shorts and reels fail because the acting, writing and/or
directing is poor – affliliate with those who have the skills you
need.  Aim high.  Utilize low-cost HD cameras, Macs with Final Cut Pro
and the Internet.  You never know who’s watching You Tube.

3. Get next to the person with the power to say yes, when he has an
opening for what you’ve got (do your homework to determine who that
is; read the trades and the Hollywood Creative Directory).  Most
executives are lower level and only have the power to say no.  Target
the people you want to work with and find out where they’re speaking,
use mutual contacts (via family, friends, the web), do whatever it
takes to get next to them.  Meeting them in person is better than the
phone, the phone is better than email, email is better than letters.

4. Say something about yourself (your life or accomplishments) that
interests them enough to check out your work.  Be authentic; if you
like their work say something specific about what you like but don’t
gush.  Speak from your vision and your heart.

5. Be mentored by someone who has succeeded specifically in what
you’re trying to do
; otherwise you’re flying blind (it’s telling that
right now J.J. Abrams is being mentored by Spielberg).  Ideally, it’s
more than one person.  To get those mentors, make a long list of who’s
doing the work you admire and read up on them, on their tastes and
enthusiasms, look for commonality between them and yourself (something
specific; where you came from, hobbies, personal background).  Go
where they’re speaking; interview them for a magazine or a website;
hire them — do whatever it takes to get that specific blow by blow
advice.  Ideally, they should be someone still in the game, because
the specifics of the game change quickly (although some key basics
remain the same.  In my own career, I make sure I have one or more
mentors for each project I take on.  Over the course of my career, in
ways big and small I’ve been mentored by Rod Serling, Theodore
Sturgeon, Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison,
Ray Bradbury, J.J. Abrams, Guillermo del Toro, directors and writers
from LOST, HEROES, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FARSCAPE, STAR TREK – THE NEXT GENERATION, many others.

6. Don’t stop; remember to take constructive criticism, make course
corrections as need be (but disregard toxic or negative input, and
people).  Nicholas Meyer, director of WRATH OF KHAN recently said to
me that what makes for a successful career is “charm and persistence.”
I wholeheartedly agree.

7. Surround yourself with loving creative people who will allow you your dream.

8. Repeat as needed.

Feel free this pass this along, as I think it will be of use to anyone
trying to make a dent in the Hollywood edifice.  If they haven’t heard
of me, you can mention I’ve written and produced hundreds of hours of
network TV, had bestsellers in fiction and non-fiction, been nominated
for the Humanitas, Hugo, Nebula, American Book Award, etc. (so maybe I
have something of a clue as to how things work…).

Whatever your path, I want to wish you the best of luck and encourage
you to not wait but just go for it.  It’s true that luck favors the
bold and, trust me, it’s a singular joy when something that comes from
your mind and heart reaches out to millions of people and stands the
test of time.”

All good thoughts your way,
Marc Zicree

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