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Breaking Into Hollywood: ‘No’ Is Just a Conversation Starter

Gary W. Goldstein, producer of 'Pretty Woman,' explains how a writer needs to take the word 'no' and turn it into an opportunity instead of a roadblock.

Gary W. Goldstein has produced some of Hollywood biggest box-office hits (Pretty Woman, Under Siege, The Mothman Prophecies), generating well over One Billion Dollars in worldwide revenue, receiving multiple Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe and numerous other accolades.

When I first drove into this sprawling metropolis – this City of Angels that seemed it could swallow whole the San Francisco I’d just left and still be hungry for more – I found it intoxicating and inspiring, imposing and impenetrable. I’d no idea how to literally or metaphorically navigate the beast of a dream that brought me to this land of endless freeways. I was exhilarated, afraid and mostly lost.

After better than a decade spent discovering, nurturing and launching careers as a literary manager, primarily repping writers and directors, I switched hats but continued the search for brilliant new talent as a producer. Failure didn’t evaporate, it just simply had to accept sharing the limelight with bigger and more consistent successes.

Do not pass "Go" until you get it in writing!

Over the years, after countless scraped knees and flat-out failures – a seemingly endless parade of emotional, mental and financial defeats – all that trial and error paid off. The strategies, systems and mindset that consistently triggered successes stood out in bold relief, in contrast to all the attempts, ideas and approaches that, at best, wasted time and, at worst, failed miserably.

A steadily increasing number of people of all ages and creative appetites were asking the same question. What’s the secret? How do you break into film, TV, Hollywood itself? Is having an agent the golden ticket? The answer, of course, was ‘no’ but even if I talked at warp speed for an hour, I could barely do justice or give each person who asked a meaningful grasp for the strategies that invited the very sort of success they wanted for themselves. I felt frustrated and wanted to share hard-won lessons and strategies with more than the limited number of people I could talk with one-on-one.

My solution was to write Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success, a book that distills everything I’d learned about turning your talent into a business; especially how to create meaningful relationships that put you inside the beltway of Hollywood and bring opportunities and more people to your table.

But 5-star reviews didn’t mask the need to make it simpler for writers and other creatives to take action and put these tactics and strategies to work to achieve their goals. That realization gave birth to Breaking Into Hollywood: The Master Course. The next six months were spent meticulously writing course-work, building out exercises and refining an interactive experience that would deliver each individual a uniquely personalized and detailed action plan -- a specific set of targets, and a literal menu detailing how to meet and talk with new people across the landscape of Hollywood. Real-world results and happy testimonials followed, and people’s confidence seemed to escalate along with their successes.

My team and I are fired up. Everyone knows that feeling when you’ve really invested yourself, worked with focus and passion, refined something again and again, and finally get real-world proof of concept. It works. Now there’s a proven pathway – visible footprints in the sand – that creatives can follow and make real progress, turning your talent and dreams into a career. That’s exciting.

Many requests have encouraged us to offer a new addition to The Master Course -- an 'Insider Group'. This 'live' intimate monthly session with me will help you solidify your learnings and new practices on your path to success.

Our way of saying thanks to ScriptMag and their enthusiastic support and making good on our promise of getting this game-changing information and strategies into the hands of and helping the greatest number of creatives possible is to announce our 'Insider' Group here first.

In addition to the 'Insider' Group, another favorite part of Breaking Into Hollywood are the LIVE events we broadcast weekly with top players in Hollywood.

One of our earliest guests on Breaking Into Hollywood LIVE, writer and executive producer of “Last Man Standing,” Michael Shipley has some great advice on getting your foot into the door. (video here)

“Being Authentic” is a recurring topic with our guests … and Jeanne Veillette Bowerman sums it up brilliantly. (video here)

David Garrett, writer, producer, and a key member of James Franco’s Studio 4 team, had some interesting thoughts on writing partnerships. (video here)

Wishing you amazing success!

Breaking Into Hollywood

If you want to see some of our other inspired guests and watch more short clips or full interviews, go to (and please subscribe to) our Breaking Into Hollywood YouTube channel.

Get More of Gary's advice on screenwriting in his book
Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter's Blueprint for Career Success