Category Archives: television business

Windmills & Movie Making – what you need to know

windmills

I just love windmills. I enjoy finding them when traveling. I wish I lived nearer to them. I enjoy seeing the movement in the sky line. It amazes me to see them moving in harmony, very often synchronized by the wind. I find a beauty in it. I find majesty in a field of windmills.

The reason I do, I believe, is because of what the windmills represent to me.

They are tall, they stand alone, they work separately, yet they work together for a greater good. They work independently but together they harness the wind power to be used by all. They serve a larger purpose.

I use this as an analogy for filmmaking. This is how I understand people working in film and television.

There are different jobs, different tasks that need to be done by individuals in different departments. Each is separate, frequently working alone, and yet together. These individuals are a team working together for the greater good of the project. They are both independent and interdependent at the same time.

In the case of the windmills no one single windmill is more important than the other. They are all equal. They all do their job and the larger interest is served.

In movie making there is a pecking order, there is a chain of command and there are different job descriptions. While I think all are necessary hence all are equal, my thinking may not be commonly accepted that way. Some people consider some positions more important than others.

Therefore, it is important to know and appreciate this chain of command or this top down order and understand where and how you fit in and contribute to it.

Even though some think one job description is more important than another I think all the job positions are necessary. They exist because they evolved driven by whatever was needed at a moment in time. Most, if not all innovation in filmmaking, art, science and medicine, in fact in any endeavor, is driven by the need to do something easier, faster, or differently. At one time the camera was static, on sticks, and because people wanted to tell stories better cameras became lighter and movable. Dollies and jibs, cranes and steadicams evolved to fill this need.

So I believe every position on a film crew is necessary because someone needs to do it. While there are different pay grades, and import placed on different job descriptions ultimately all are important. Some are deemed jobs for the talented, successful few, while others are ‘run out and find someone who will do this job’. Still, each position is necessary and hence worthy of respect.

Whatever, position on a film crew one finds oneself, one can and should be proud to be part of a collaborative team. If you weren’t doing the job someone else would be. You are needed to make the entire effort work. It may not always seem that way and you may not always be respected or treated as you should be but every piece and every part and every player on the team is necessary.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Together each person works in service of the project, the greater good. Each independent player helps this project come together in the same way each piece of a jigsaw puzzle in necessary for the puzzle to be complete.

This is how film work is collaborative. We need each other to bring the film to life. Countless numbers of people  are needed through each of the phases  of movie making from idea to consumer. Everyone along the way IS necessary but no one is indispensable. Everyone can be replaced. That is why working together as a team is critical.

To succeed in this business I believe one must understand and appreciate what everyone is attempting to do when they make a movie. One must understand the different responsibilities that come with each position and understand the etiquette on a production. I will discuss more about this in future blogs.

Different positions carry different concerns. You should: Know your place. Don’t bug people. Be respectful and helpful. Arrive early and stay late (but don’t fudge your union time cards or stay late to gain more pay THEY WILL notice that). Be willing to be helpful OFF the clock.

When you positively contribute to the people on the team and the overall project you become a valuable resource people can rely on.

You make yourself appreciated by remaining positive, by not grumbling. The saying ‘ loose lips sinks ships’ is apt because nothing hurts morale more than complaining and you may sink yourself if you get caught spreading a negative virus. If other people do it. let them, just don’t participate.

Make yourself nearly indispensable by working hard and going the extra mile. Work beyond your pay. You will be recognized by your efforts and when you go out of your way to be helpful, without being a nuisance, employers take note. Not everyone hired will do more than what is required so when you do you stick out head and shoulders above the rest.

You serve your own best interests when you become known as a friendly team player that people can count on. When you help others you are helping yourself.

You may not like someone on the team but you must respect their position, their job title and do your work without letting anything interfere. Obviously, if you are in an abusive job relationship that is something else as I am discussing the day to day working environment. Personalities clash at times and yet you are best served to do whatever you can to rise above it. Keep the larger project in mind. Be respectful of all and all will take notice, especially the people who can hire you back.

Many people think only of themselves, they only look out for number one. You do have to consider your own needs  I understand. The person who moves ahead in their career faster is one who can balance their needs while looking out for others.

Employers look at those whose concern is the project, who are team players and help all be successful in making the project come together. While union rules may preclude you from doing someone else’s tasks for them your spirit and attitude can go a long way in gaining you the attention of those who hire. Willingness to help, even when you can’t is appreciated. Be willing, and be helpful when able. Go the extra mile and give more service than asked for AND you will do more than most other hires. You will separate yourself from them and you will positively stand apart.

Remember, filmmaking is a collaborative effort that requires the management of large numbers of people and the allocation of resources. If you don’t come off as too overly eager and in the way, but as a dedicated, hardworking, positive person you will do well. When you are willing to do anything to help the team succeed you become recognized as valuable team player who is difficult to replace. Because so few work so well it is tough to find someone like you. You want to hard replace.

You make the best headway in this business by becoming known as a reliable, dedicated, hard working cheerful, friendly co-worker who values others and cares deeply about the success of the project and the overall team.

People in it only for oneself, tend to lose out.  People who contribute tend to make headway beyond the rest.

While it is true there can be horrible employers and job situations and some top players may not be nice at all you should remain positive.

Remember, after all you are living the dream you are making a movie.

Some players are power mongers who throw their weight around because they really don’t know how to lead well and most likely are afraid someone may find out. Some may mistreat people and no matter what you do you could be used, abused or ignored because that is just how they are.

There are exceptions to every rule still you should seek to rise above the rest and adhere to a higher standard. Try instead to understand, sympathize, emphasize, forgive OR go where your talents may better serve and be appreciated.

When you enjoy what you are doing and help others to enjoy along with you ultimately you will be recognized by those who count. You will be invited back to work again and again when you become the person they want to be around. When you are recognized as a great person first coupled with being a great worker, known to deliver the goods, who fits in and contributes to the team, you become sought after. You become highly desirable. THIS is what you want to occur. This is how you get ahead.

Look beyond the job and look to your future in film. DO you fit in well with others? Can you work in harmony, while working independently, for the greater good? Can you help all to benefit? Do people enjoy your company? Are you a team player? Are you friendly? Do you like people? Are you willing to go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service, even if not asked? If you can honestly answer yes you will do well.

Keep putting yourself out there. Build your resume. As you do, your positive, helpful nature and your team spirit will become known. Reputations precede us and they follow us. Make sure your reputation serves to get you on the project.

Make sure your reputation is stellar and you will go very far in this business. One of the reasons you will go far beyond others is because when you are this kind of person, this type of worker, when you do these things, you are unlike all the others. You are no dime a dozen worker. You are a cut above. You are rare and you are valuable.” Rex Sikes

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

 

 

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Hollywood Is A Meritocracy

lighting house ladders

I have been writing about the need for people to become a rare, sought after, desired person in Hollywood, in ‘the industry’. You know the kind of person we need  a genuine person, a nice, honest, decent, hard working co-contributor who works well with others. When it comes to advancing one’s career there is no better means that to add value to others first.

The entertainment business, like any business, is driven by dollars. It seeks profits and is concerned with bottom line. It catapults into stardom anyone who can fill theater seats or pitch and sell products in media because of who they are and how they look. Make no mistake about it the movie business is a commercial endeavor. It spends money to make money and it is concerned with every last dime.

So adding value means you don’t cost them you help them. It means you are not a liability but an asset. If you can help them save money by being professional, by being dedicated and going the extra mile, by adding value then you are sought after and put to work doing that. If you can help make them money by your actions you are a godsend.

Make no mistake, it is about business after all.

At the same time I share with you how to get inside the business there are other things to do simultaneous. Some do these without regard to what I have already shared about how to get in. I believe you need to do both. Here is what you need to be and do.

First and foremost you have to be the kind of person people like and want to be around. You DO need to add value first to everyone and develop the reputation for helping others and solving problems. You want to become the nice go to person everyone wants on their team.

Second you have to make films, movies, television. act. write. edit, shoot, compose or do whatever it is you do. NO YOU DO NOT have to do them all. Probably far better if you don’t try all of them anyway. You have to produce product for the business. It should be quality product, great story, great acting, unique, novel or original. You want to have an original voice and not be a copy cat. Still, you can model success from others, build on what has gone before you without looking the same.

What Hollywood doesn’t want is to do any of the work. They don’t want to have to say yes to you or your projects that is too risky. Invest in you or your movie WOW really risky! Better to say no and wait and see if you come through anyway. THAT is exactly what the business does these days.

You find it tough because they say no. They say no because they don’t want to loose their jobs. They will anyway if they never say yes, but at least they think they can squeeze a few more days, weeks or months out of the current tenuous position. So they say no.

If you are the kind of person who takes rejection personally and it hurts you and crushes you and you give up Hollywood beat you. Because there is no failure until you quit but once you throw in the towel it is definitely over. So move on. If on the other hand you don’t let it bother you but you allow it to motivate you to work smarter and harder then you can improve your chances.

If, instead of quitting, you make your movie, your show, your web content, and you do it well, you have something to offer you have a tangible money making product. While it is true that it is difficult to get movies made and released, it is equally true that it is difficult to get people to read your screenplays, and watch the product you have made. Everyone is too busy and too lazy to be bothered. They just don’t want to have to work to make things happen.

But they are more likely to watch something of your work or latch on to your idea when they see that it is fully developed, quality produced and acted and that there is merit behind your thoughts and you actions. Proof of concept or sizzle reels seems to be a way to go. You have to prove your project has wings.

The bottom line in this day is anyone can make a movie. Anyone can make a full feature film the technology exists and the costs, while there are costs, it is not prohibitive as it once was. So if you write, produce, direct, act, shoot or edit you have no excuse not to be making content.

It had better be awesome though. Because anyone can make movies everyone seems to want to and many make really bad ones. There is so much noise to signal these days because it is cheap and available. If you want to get recognized as a talent then you have to be talented and make good projects.

Let me stop here and say this because it is important. DO NOT do every thing yourself. These are thought of as vanity productions whether they actually are or because you don’t have the people to fill the positions. Movie making is collaborative. If you want to produce or direct you have to be able to lead and manage a team, in some cases a very large team. The more people you have to manage the more your import skyrockets. There is great value in finding those talented producers and directors who understand people skills and are able to get things done effectively.

For directors watch your actors make sure you cast well and get stellar performances. After all that is what a director does. The director brings the story to life. First the story must be incredible no one wants to waste their time watching something that is boring, implausible, and poorly constructed. We all want to be entertained. We want to lose ourselves in the story, in the characters, we want to love them, fight along side them, be them, bed them or hate and revile them. We don’t want to not care. We don’t want to think this story or this person sucks. We want to be lost in your movie and your characters not pulled out of it by silly plot contrivances and weak or overacted performances. Directors this is your domain. THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DOMAIN.

Yes, you work with the cinematographer to get the right shots and pretty pictures, but no one cares about your shots if the story and the acting is poor. Then we could go look at a travel video or a photograph. You use the camera and its placement and movement TO TELL THE STORY and CAPTURE THE PERFORMANCES not as an end to itself. By far this is to prevalent in today’s film endeavors. People spend all sorts of time and energy lighting and setting the camera at the expense of what goes on in front of it. Let your cinematographer light the set, deal with the shot while you work with the actors. Confer with them yes, but spend the lion share of your time on the story, character and performance and less on style. Focus on substance over style. Consider this if your story is riveting and the performances captivating 95% of everything is accomplished, maybe 99%. When you have intriguing story and compelling characters the audience lives through, it doesn’t matter so much how it looks.about  I am not saying it isn’t important at all, but it really isn’t. What I am saying is put your energy and talent in what matters the most to everyone who will watch your work.

You are not going to get hired as a director if your film is gorgeous and the story and acting suck.

Writers do everything you can to make in capture our hearts and minds. We have to believe every second, we need to live it as the characters do. Or as an audience we live it a moment in front of them anticipating the next moment, the suspense, or a minute after when some poignant moment is revealed. We should be caught up in the story and moved along on a roller coaster. While the ups and downs and violent turns of the ride don’t have to be such in each story all stories have a pace, have high moments, drama and conflict, overwhelming odds whereby the hero may lose all and moments of accomplishment and learning. It can not be the same pace, the same level, story cannot only be revealed through dialogue. We have to see what is going on and feel what is going on with these characters. You need to write it as the best written screenplay ever. Will you most likely not right out of the gate but you have to stick with it, re-write it, polish it and develop it and make it production worthy. Besides it being important to you, the writer (or the writer, director or producer and sometimes one person is all three) it must be important to others. It has to speak to the audience so that when they are done with the experience they feel better off for having been a part of it. If they feel they have wasted their time then they have and so have you.

Directors and producers must be choosy about what they make. Just because you have an idea doesn’t make it worthy of a short film or feature film. Just shooting for the sake of doing it isn’t going to help you.Strive to do the best with the resources you have. You may not have great equipment or enough people, money, food, time or energy but you should have an incredible story and an incredible cast. WHY? Because before movies came along these were plays and plays need to be great too. This is an important point I am not saying you have to write for theater that is a different form but you have to write and produce and direct and act so that humans that would watch it, whether on film or on a stage, want to see more come from you.

You always only make a first impression once. It is nearly indelible, and while this first impression may be overcome later with better future work, why shoot yourself in the foot to begin with. Start out right by making the best impression you are able to.

Make the best short or feature or web series you can. Wether comedy, drama, science fiction, western action or horror, there is one thing it absolutely be and that is ENTERTAINING!!! IT MUST be worth watching from the very first frame because if not, a few frames later, they will turn it off. If you give them crap the first time do you think they will accept anything from you the second time? Why make your job more difficult make it easy.

Become the best filmmaker you can be. Do it all the time but don’t put it out there unless it is worth it. Know the difference between something worth showing and something you cut your teeth on. As you grow in experience and get better and better you will make the project you want to show, just make sure it is the best you can do.

Actors the same applies to you. There is no reason why you can’t act on camera and put content out there worth seeing if no one is hiring you. You increase your chances of getting hired when you do BUT it must be wonderful. Again business smarts is crucial. Don’t put things up and out that are not your best. It is more important for actors and filmmakers to develop quality over quantity especially to get in the door. Once inside you want to follow up your work with more better work, This is a quest that frustrates many, how to top an earlier success.

I don’t think you have to top it but you have to consistently deliver the goods. If it is business you may have a flop now and then but ultimately you need to make people more money than you loose if you want to stay in any business.

So Hollywood doesn’t want to develop you instead they want you to come to them ready made. They want to claim to have discovered you, the next new great talent. They want to exploit you and make money from you but they don’t want to pay anything to start it. It does make sense because they are currently busy keeping those already ‘there’ busy making movies and projects. They are nurturing and milking their cash cows until the cows have nothing left to give.

SO understanding how things work in a business helps us move forward in the business, It may seem daunting but you can’t give in to that type of thinking. You do need to be positive in your thoughts and actions. You should also be realistic about your knowledge and your skills and talent. Be accurate in your assessment where are you strong and where do you need to develop?

Stay positive in thought and feeling and attitude because you can develop your abilities and talents as you pursue your career. You will especially if you believe in yourself, stay optimistic and continue to work on it. Develop your mind set and never give up. Become a person other people want to work and be with. Megalomaniacs occasionally get in but not as a rule. Usually the nicest people have lasting careers.

Producers and directors remember people keep an eye on how you inspire people to work hard and to be better not how well you whip them into doing things. People management. time management, management of resources are all important. They want to know you can manage money too. If your film cost nothing that is admirable because you did a lot with little BUT you did not actually have to spend money and that is precisely what you do in business. Doing something with nothing may impress some but at the same time it does not lend any credibility to your business skills. Rather it speaks to you creativity to figure out how to pull it off with nothing and I believe this is very valuable. It is just spending money wisely is a different skill set.

The bottom line is today you can make product. Whether that product is one you are able to take to market or not depends on many other factors. What you can and should make is incredible stories whether shorts, serials, or features. You should seek to entertain and fascinate the viewer.

Strive to do your very best in whatever capacity you function and I hope you love doing it. Have fun, enjoy it, strive for quality and keep doing it and you will get better and better. Be wise about what you show and when. Be prudent, in some ways better to err on the side of caution them blow a contact with work not ready. Keep at it and don’t quit.

Be the person other people want to work with. Learn to inspire and motivate and appreciate others. Value them first, add value to them, respect them and they will value you.

The best possible combination. The best of both worlds is an incredibly wonderful person who is also talented, creative and smart about business. It makes it easier to get ahead so be one. If you are not already, I believe you may become one, you just have to spend time doing what it takes. Whenever something is worth having, when something is a must, then it is worth putting in the appropriate effort.

I will discuss many topics as we progress. No single blog post of mine stands in isolation as there are numerous considerations. I consider it a flash light illuminating an aspect of it to give our attention to and explore, not as the final word.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Michael Frost Beckner (RSMB Screenwriter Series)

Michael Beckner jpeg

Michael Frost Beckner launched his writing career in the early 1990’s with three record-making “spec” script sales: “Texas Lead & Gold,” “Cutthroat Island,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Today, with dozens of screenplays and rewrites for major studios, twenty pilots for commercial and cable networks, numerous episodes for network television, Beckner has—from his first original film, “Sniper,” that introduced the phrase “One shot, one kill” to the public vernacular and spawned three sequels—built a reputation as a film and television writer of realistic, character-based historical, military and espionage dramas.

The Screenwriter Series on Movie Beat with Michael Frost Beckner IS BELOW!

UPCOMING LIVE: Wednesday October 8, 2014 11aET, 10aCT, 8aPT TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED LINK Below

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS7

Discussions with Michael on Mini-series he is producing To Appomattox. TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED LINK Below

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner PT 2

****NEWS!!!  Michael and I are conducting a writer’s series. Tips, suggestions, secrets, on writing, selling and getting your screenplay made. Stay tuned!!! More to come!

***** THE SCREENWRITER SERIES with Michael Frost Beckner & Rex. How to write, pitch, sell and produce your screenplay. SCROLL DOWN FOR UPCOMING EPISODES *****

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS1

Episode 1. We discuss – idea, generating ideas, plot, how to develop plot, story and what makes it important. The importance of Characters to the story and how these all relate to creating a strong project and selling it. (Show Note – cable company cut cable 3 minutes from end of show – ends abruptly but we will continue the conversation topic in Episode 2.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS2

Episode 2 We picked up where we left off and continued to explore story and character development. Michael talked about creating character backstory and how you screenplay story emanates from the character not the other way around. We discussed rewriting to keep it a page turner and began discussing crafting your opening, and how important theme is, plus much more.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS3

Episode 3 We continue the discussion where we left off and began to significantly the notion of THEME in your writing. Why and how  it is important and what it means to the reader and audience.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS4

Episode 4 We will pick up where we left off and continue to explore these and new topics. How to Pitch Studio executives and producers. Michael provided valuable tips and suggestions for how to pitch and what to do.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS5

Episode 5 Continues the exploration and discussion on pitching and selling your screenplay. The conversation includes studio, independent production, television and features. Incredible information you can use is in each episode.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS6

Episode 6 Michael and I discuss pitching your feature or spec film and how it differs from pitching Television executives. We discuss the necessity of networking and career success.

ENJOY THE SCREENWRITER SERIES

Beckner’s major big-screen success came with the Universal Pictures, Tony Scott directed film of Beckner’s spec script, “Spy Game” (2001) starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.  The release of that film coincided with the debut Beckner’s CBS series, “The Agency” (Creator, Executive Producer, Writer; 2001-2003).  This pilot holds the distinction of being the only dramatic series ever allowed to film at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Beckner began his career as Academy Award winning director, Barry Levinson’s Writing Assistant working with the director on “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Rain Man.”  From 1997 to 2008, he worked extensively with Academy Award winning director, Sydney Pollack, adapting John Le Carre’s “The Night Manager” and writing two more films and developing two television series; Beckner considers Mr. Pollack his mentor and the greatest influence on his writing and his career.

Recent writing credits include: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigators” (CBS) and “Gold Fever” (Discovery), and is preparing the “Spy Game” prequel “Muir’s Gambit” for production and has adapted his novel “Berlin Mesa” into a 4 hour mini-series for AMC.

Beckner has also developed a working profile in European television writing the miniseries “The Plan” (UK; Purecom Entertainment and Freemantle) based on Alex Dryden’s bestsellers “Red to Black” and “Moscow Sting,” as well as “The Sleepwalkers” based on Christopher Clark’s international bestseller of the same title (Germany;Odeon/H&V Productions).  Beckner is currently working on “City of Lies” which continues his creative partnership with director Wolfgang Petersen they began with “The Agency” (Radiant Productions/Endemol).

As a personality and commentator on American espionage he has appeared on CNN, Fox New, TF1 in France, and was a featured guest on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”  As a Civil War speaker, he has spoken at universities and to private organizations on the history behind his upcoming Civil War Event Mini-Series “To Appomattox.”

He is one of three children of Olympic gymnast, coach and judge, and NCAA champion (University of Southern California) Jack Beckner and Barbara Beckner; he attended USC and received a degree in novel writing under the tutelage of award-winning novelist T.C. Boyle; the father of five children, Beckner makes his home in Montrose, California.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

 

Making Movies Is Not a Hollywood Private Party It Is Pot Luck!

 

behind the hollywood sign

“Have you ever noticed how hopeful show biz people are?  Actors want to act and star in movies, writers want to hit it big, directors desire to get their movie made and distributed. The list of hopefuls in film goes on and on. Some of these people will do nearly anything to make a connection and get ahead.

They want to make it in Hollywood. They want to be star actors, directors, writers, whatever their department they want big success. They know they have talent and a lot to offer and they are not ashamed to tell everyone. They will state, they are “only working this job until they get their break”.

They wonder at times why the rest of the “Industry”, “The Business” doesn’t recognize how talented they are. They exclaim, “If I only had a shot, got a break, then everyone would see”. They believe in themselves, they are sold on themselves and they think everyone else should be too.

These hopefuls think getting ahead means making the right connections. It does.

They think if they only connect with and get to know the right people they will be welcomed into Hollywood with open arms. Yes, most likely.

To connect with industry leaders they eagerly hand out head shots and their resume to those important people they meet. They lug out their script or demo reel on DVD and ask others to look at, to read or to watch their talent. It doesn’t matter where they are when they meet this ‘industry mogul’ they want to connect and make an impression on them. They clamor to get their materials into the hands of those who might be able to help them whether they are at a car wash, restaurant, gas station, party, on the street, anywhere and everywhere.

Sometimes they may be rebuffed, the person they approach doesn’t want their materials.  Instantly, that big name producer, director, writer or star suddenly becomes an ‘U93e0)@(EU@#’ to them. They complain that the person didn’t take their materials and brushed them off. ‘Don’t they know I am going to be big someday?’ their thinking goes. Yes, they may.

Sometimes, they are resentful when their friends or others get an opportunity or a break that they didn’t. Then they secretly, or not so secretly, hope or wish bad things upon the person who “got lucky”, or “slept their way up” or “bought their way in” or “we born into a showbiz family” or “knew somebody”.  Whatever the flavor of disparaging comments of the day are they banter them about with callous disregard.

Somehow they think if only they were understood, given a chance then everyone would know how big they were going to be.

Not all people are like this. But some are. You may even know some. You may be even one but let’s hope not.

The problem with this person is not, that they may not be talented. They may be extremely talented. Talent is not the issue. Business smarts and wisdom is what is lacking, the ability to know and understand people is what is missing.

Talent may be there. What is missing is critical.

The necessary people skills that help people connect with others needs improvement. The focus of this person is in the wrong place. While it is great, even necessary, to believe in oneself, how you go about connecting with others is more important in many ways.

These hopefuls, these wanna be’s on the ladder of success just don’t understand why no one “gets them”, sees their talent or opens the doors for them. I’ll tell you why.

I think these hopefuls imagine succeeding as going to a private Hollywood ‘big name’ party.

Here is what I mean.  You are invited to a private party. You go there to be seen, to connect, to meet up, to have fun, to get laid, to eat and drink the food and beverages the host supplies. You primp, you peacock, you expect others to take notice. It is a big spread and a big deal and you are invited in. Everything is supplied. The place, the people, the food, the drink, the entertainment. All you have to do is eat, drink and be merry. Lap it up.

In your head you imagine  that someone looks at you and states, ‘Of all the parties, in all the private mansions, in all of Beverly Hills YOU walked into mine… I have been waiting for this moment, My god there is no one like you, you are going to be a big star. Let me help you’. And it happens you are discovered! You are in for the big ride to stardom and success. WOW!

Okay, it could happen but it is so rare that it will you would be better off having another plan of action.

I get it, we get it, in fact everyone in show business gets it – you want to work, you want to be somebody, a contender, you want to make it.

We all do. We all think the same way. That is the issue.

So how does one make it? How might you open the doors for greater and easier success?  Begin by considering this:

Everyone is in it for themselves. ‘WIIFM’. You know what those letters stand for! ‘WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME?’ Since this is in the forefront of all of our minds,  when you approach someone else their first thought, or one soon after is, ‘What is in it for me?’

Let’s return to the party analogy for a moment. It is a gathering, you don’t have to do anything but show up, you are welcomed in, you eat someone else’s food, drink their drinks, spend time in their abode and you enjoy yourself. You might dress or be flashy, but you meet people who can further your career or your interests. You have your elevator pitch for each person you meet. Your attention, for the most part, is on you, your needs, your desires, your breaks and how others can benefit you. Well, it’s true isn’t it? Your concern is your career, right?

Well, that is everyone else’s concern as well.

If you want to succeed in show business, ‘the industry’ or ‘Hollywood’ you have to change your thinking.

Do not think of it not as going to a private Hollywood celebrity party think of it as going to a Pot Luck Event.

That’s right Hollywood Success is Pot Luck!

Here is what I mean. What IS a pot luck event is all about?

It is about everyone else. It is about the other people! At a Pot Luck EVERYONE brings something to contribute to the well being of all involved.  At a Pot Luck you bring something of value to share with others.

Whatever your motives are for bringing a dish you do not show up empty handed. You bring something to share.

Perhaps, your reason for bringing the dish is that you  want to ‘blow everyone’s mind’s with your amazing Tiramisu’ or your 5 Bean Salad.  Maybe, you just hope everyone likes your cheesecake. Perhaps, you bring your favorite beer because that is what you want to make sure they have on hand or maybe you want others to discover it too.

Whether secretly hoping to make a memorable impression or simply happy to share a dish bought from the deli you bring something for all.

Movie making, television, filming of any kind is collaborative. Everyone person is a valuable member of a team. Each team member performs specific tasks to help get the movie made. Everyone is in it together.

A saying I learned early in the film business is,  ‘ be nice to others on the way up because you will again pass them on the way down’. While this is a nice reminder for at least one reason why you should be nice I think there is a more important reason.

The real reason is that birds of a feather flock together. Like minded people gravitate towards each other. Successful people hang together. Friends seek each others companionship and company. Like attracts like.

The people who like each other and hold each other in high regard and find value in each other and their projects, wish each other  well. They want to work with each other as often as possible because they enjoy it. They benefit from the experience and the project benefits.

The people who complain ‘I can’t break in, I can’t break in’ are part of the very reason they can’t break in.

As I have been pointing out, if all the attention is only on you and your career you will have a much tougher time of it. The focus needs to be on other people and it needs to be genuine.

The fact  of the matter is, those successful people who work together and maintain a tight core group that is difficult to get into,  are busy working together with people they value. They have developed relationships of friendship and mutual respect. Their core group is tight for these reasons.  They want to work with the same people again because they contribute to each other and the projects and they have fun together. They have good relationships.

You will find your core people and you will make inroads as you pursue your career. There is always hope that you can penetrate one of these talented core groups, and you may, but you have to have something to offer them beyond your talent.

You have to learn how to make everything a win/win for people. They have to win while you win. It can be no other way. If it is only good for you  then there is nothing in it for the other person. You must first address their ‘What is in it for me?’ concern.

Do you see that t has to be about the other person first? It cannot be about you first. No one likes someone who blows their own horn and who is only focused on self.  They will potentially like someone who is interested in them and asks questions sincerely.

You need to explore how you can help other person and you win in this relationship. You have to have a collaborative frame of mind. You need to consider, how do you work together, how can you contribute to other person first?,

Those who know me  know that one of Rex’s Rules is to GO FIRST. That means you need to do it before anyone else does it. Your reputation will precede you if you focus on helping the other person win first. You will become known near and far as the person to know and include on the team if they perceive you as someone who adds value to them before ever asking anything from them.

You see you have to bring something to the party. When you bring it in this manner you will blow their minds because most people seeking a career do not think this way. They only think about their career goals.

Someone once said ‘ You can get anything in this life if you help enough people get what they want’. This is true.

People respond positively to people who provide value and they don’t respond to or they respond less than gloriously to people who don’t so get known as some one who does.  Get known as a true team player, a collaborator, someone who knows how to fit in and who contributes.

It comes down to this:  If you hand me your picture and resume I know what you want. You want me to hire you or refer you.

Okay, so I think what is in it for me if I hire you?  If you state “I am talented and your project will be better off because you hired me’, then your answer is still only about you.  Your answer has nothing  to do with me or my concerns for the project. All you have done is pitched you.  Do you understand this? It is all about where the focus is.

You gave me your resume for me to give you a job.

People thin,k ‘you have to do something for me, here is my screenplay, my headshot, my reel.’  They don’t consider that out of a 24 hour period with 8 to 16 hours dedicated to work, family, friends, that taking a couple hours to read your screenplay or watch your movie means less time for themselves, their business concerns, their friends scripts and movies or their family. It is a big chunk of their time. You have just asked someone to give you value, to invest their time, energy, interest, potentially money in checking you out with absolutely NO GUARANTEE of RETURN ON INVESTMENT!

Do you get that? You ask someone to give up their time, or carry around your materials because they are important to you, but the person, at that moment has no way of knowing whether these materials will be important to them. How could they know this?

It is the equivalent of someone knocking on your door while you are at home asking for your time or money. It is like getting a sales call during dinner time it is not wanted. When you do this to another without providing value at the very least you are a pest.

At a pot luck everyone brings something to serve everyone else. It is about contributing and sharing. It is about coming together and giving. IF you want to succeed don’t ask first, give first. Help out first. Provide value first. Solve a problem for the person first. Refer a resource,  provide some needed information or timely assistance just because it is the right thing to do not because you want to get ahead.

When your heart is in the right place, when you are genuine and your interest is in serving or helping the other person they will recognize it. When the other person gets the feeling that their interests are in your heart then they are more apt to respond in kind.

When you want someone to listen to you be the first to listen to them. Take all the time necessary to really hear and listen to what they say, what they are about, give your time and energy and attention to them first and then they are more likely to respond in kind.

When you behave like this, most probably at some point, they will ask for you head shot and resume. They will ask to read your screenplay or watch your movie. People like to say yes to people they like. When the ‘industry leader’ asks you for your materials that is far better than you asking them.

The principle of the ‘Golden Rule’ is ‘treat or do to or for others as you would have others treat or do to or for you’.

If you want people to wish you success begin by wishing them success first. If you want them to value you value them first. Wish them well, celebrate their successes, understand, sympathize or empathize with their problems, difficulties and disappointments. How do you want people to treat you? If you want them to recognize you as a person of value recognize them as valuable first.

Keep a couple of principles in mind to guide you.

The first is ‘People like people who are like themselves’. This means it is important to have something in common. You should  have something you share between you.  It could be values, mutual respect, your station in life, interests, sports, fishing, cars, came from same neighborhood and more. There can be a bridge, a common ground, something mutual you have interests in or are able to discuss.

Second, ‘People tend to say yes to people they like’. So, if you want people to say yes to you and remember you and to possibly hire you they need to like you. They need to want to be with you and hang around you. So are you the kind of person another can easily like?

The consideration for them is:  Would they want to go camping with you? Would they want to be working somewhere with you? Are you the kind of person they would want to have around in an isolated area with the rest of the people?

This is a big concern casting directors have. Their job is to find and recommend talent for hire. They need know that the director, the producer or the star would enjoy your company and would want to be around you on location for a significant amount of time?’

They may think of you as the most talented actor they have seen in decades BUT is not just about whether you are talented. It is ABOUT can they TRUST YOU to get along well with everyone.

Yes, they want to know you are a pro, that you can deliver, that you are not intimidated by who you work with, that you can carry your own, that you are confident and positive, that you can hit your mark, know your key light and your lines. Yes they want you to be able to act and navigate a set and in front of the camera.

Most importantly they want to know you aren’t going to be someone who the ‘powers that be’ regret bringing along. When they send you up for a job their reputation is on the line.

What is in it for them? You make them look good and the producers and director and star thank them for such a wonderful find. Their future jobs and relationships are determined by how well they people read you. Their concerns are beyond  just the acting ability.

The same is true for anyone in the business. The same concerns apply whenever hiring. Can you do the job is a given. Do they want you around to do the job is a great concern? Do you add to them and the project or do you detract?

Which do you think is more important when thousands of dollars per minute are being spent: the acting ability or what kind of person the actor actually is?

Frankly, they could put any competent player in front of the camera and get decent results. We have all seen people on TV and in movies and we wonder ‘why were they cast?’ So remember, this  it is not just about how great an actor, writer, director, musician (or whatever you skill is) it is about who you are and the kind of person you are.

Are you a team player? Do you contribute? Is your first concern about yourself or the well being of your teammates and the project? Do you know where you fit in? Are you high maintenance? Can they absolutely trust you?

You need to bring quality to the networking. It is all about the relationships you form.

Don’t ask people to go to bat for you before you have demonstrated your worth and what kind of person you are.

Be genuine, no one likes a phony. Be sincere, be honest, be friendly, be positive. Be interested in the other person and find a way to contribute to them.

When you have these qualities, when you ARE this kind of person, you can be confident that you will begin to make quality connections with the people you meet.

You will get further faster when you are the kind of person people naturally gravitate to. Be likable and enjoyable. Be kind and don’t gossip, don’t spread ill-will. Spread positive ‘vibes’ and get known for these things.

Treat all assistants, casting assistants, producer assistants, like gold. Someday they will be producing or directing or starring in large projects, so be respectful of everyone regardless of where they are in the business ladder. Be nice and respectful to everyone!

If you are known for being friendly, thoughtful and kind people will want to see your other talents as well. If you are truly talented in the acting, writing, directing, other areas, then you have a winning combination.

The true talent comes in being a fine human being. Be the kind of human being we need more of. Be the type of human being we all want to become friends with and hang out with. I want to spend time with the best of the best, don’t you? When you are know as a great person and a talented actor (or whatever) that truly is a winning combination.

It is considered in poor taste to show up to a pot luck empty handed. So offer everyone else the best you that you have to give. When you do these things you will get known as  a great person to be around. You will connect up with the right people and you will move your career ahead easier and more quickly.

It is never about what you have – it is always about WHO YOU ARE!” Rex Sikes

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