When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I was excited. I had a dream, and I was determined to break into Hollywood. That determination didn’t stop me, however, from recognizing how little I knew about the world and business of film and television, along with the simple fact that I knew no one. I had no ‘network’, no foundation. I was alternately excited and vexed -- how would I navigate my way in this foreign land?
Joining a health club seemed a good answer because I suspected the tennis courts and pool would be perfect places to meet freelancers and creatives -- entertainment industry folks who weren’t on a fixed schedule. And it worked. The casual setting let me make friends, ask questions, invite as many as I could find to be my “five-minute mentor.”
Every time I met someone new who turned out to be a writer or director, I’d let them know I was a literary manager who represented people just like them. I rented offices, hired an assistant, transformed these new acquaintances into clients who wanted careers in film and/or TV. It was off to the races.
It all reminds me of Zig Ziglar’s great line, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” I wasn’t great, I was green and so were my clients, but that didn’t matter. I had a reason to pick up the phone and call agents, producers, executives; I had a chance to meet people, develop rapport, build relationships, and I was convinced that was going to open doors and invite opportunities.
But my plan didn’t always work so well. I failed often. I had a lot to learn, to discover strategies so I could persuade people to meet with me more regularly. Persistence eventually turned the tide, but it took several years to deeply understand what worked and what didn’t work in order to get results; to open doors, meet with more successful people at more established companies, get scripts read and pitch meetings set up for my clients. Eventually, I refined my approach, strategies and tactics, and began launching careers far more rapidly. And it got to be a lot of fun.
Long after I transitioned into producing ‘indie’ and studio films, I still loved to work with less experienced writers and filmmakers. I developed a reputation for breaking people in and launching careers in film and television. The number of people who would write or ask how to gain access and 'break in' kept growing exponentially.
That’s what prompted me to write a book – a book that would contain strategies and practices that worked time and again. The pragmatic things I did a little bit each day that consistently got people noticed, got their materials into the right hands, instigated phone calls and meetings, sparked relationships and created foundations for success.
Writing the book Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success was a bit humbling, but the response and reviews have been amazing. Writers and others from all creative disciplines email about their successes, how they’ve become more engaged, more active, feel far less uncertainty or fear about how to target or meet or talk to successful people. It doesn’t get better than that!
The book’s success spurred me on to create Breaking Into Hollywood, a creative community and course-work to help screenwriters and others who dream of ‘breaking into’ the business of film, of TV, of creating content and bringing their stories to the world.
As part of Breaking Into Hollywood, we host intimate, weekly shows with writers, producers, agents, filmmakers and others in Hollywood who show up to mentor, to share their insights and experience. Please check our social links (below) and join us for upcoming hangouts with top creatives every Tuesday at 5 pm PDT.
More details on Breaking Into Hollywood: The Master Course coming soon, but here’s a clip from a recent broadcast I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did. Hollywood agent, Rima Greer, gives great advice to aspiring screenwriters which, believe it or not, involves llamas! (video here)
And finally, I'd like to make you a gift of Chapter One of my book Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriters Blueprint for Career Success -- filled with innovative networking tactics to speed you along your chosen path in Hollywood.
Wishing you amazing success!
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) the Breaking Into Hollywood YouTube channel. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Google + page.
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Get More of Gary's advice on screenwriting in his book
Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter's Blueprint for Career Success