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David Lynch and the Two Hollywoods

How does a person succeed in Hollywood? Many of us, if not most of us, are on this site because we’re looking for some generally agreed upon, at least somewhat proven strategy for navigating our bewildering, often dehumanizing career path. Doing theater back in high school and college, breaking in was a pretty reliable, pretty straightforward process with a single, very frustrating twist thrown in: Trying to get involved in the productions upper-classmen are working on seems like …

How To Hack the Audition Process

Probably the most nervewracking assumption actors make when going into the audition process is that the people they will meet “on the other side of the table” somehow know everything about how the industry works and what it takes to succeed. Certainly, they must know more than you! After all, you’re the one who’s asking them for work! Let’s stop thinking of power, authority, and experience as all being the same thing. Consider, instead, that how much a pers…

Where Iconic Film Scores Come From

First of all, they don’t come from other people’s movies! IN THE BEGINNING Let’s start at the top. Back when most of the really enduring film scores were written, directors were expected to have cross-training in a wide range of entertainment disciplines. Moreover, composers were expected to be masters of music theory. Today, the tight focus of a film school education on the tools we need to get working has eroded the vocabulary and habits that come with a classical p…

Let's Talk about Auteur Theory

What is Auteur Theory? Technically, it’s just the idea that a director’s vision is more important to the creative identity of a film than the script. When it comes to the culture of cinema, however, auteurism has evolved into the philosophy that directors with a creative vision powerful and clear enough to define every other element of production will likely make better movies, and are generally more worthy of success and acclaim. Branding is everything in the business of bre…

How To Write Strong, Diverse Characters

Until my brain injury in 2013, I lived my life as a cis-gendered white male. Apart from my experience with disability, which I admit was eye-opening, I’m about as diversity-challenged as a human being can get. I went to boarding school, for crying out loud. Nevertheless, my approach to writing characters has earned me a reputation as someone who provides fantastic performance opportunities to underrepresented people. Mastering these techniques has taken me more than a decade of pr…

How To Find Money for Movies: Financing

Welcome back, rear reader! What you are reading is the second half of a two-part series on how to find money for movies. Even if you don’t have any interest in crowdfunding, I recommend reading the first half of “How to Find Money for Movies: Fundraising” before you proceed. Not only did we clear up some widely misunderstood terms when it comes to money, but we also talked about...DISCLAIMER: Under no circumstances should you take my advice when it comes to money. Why a…

How To Find Money for Movies: Fundraising

Ok, Stage 32! What you are about to read is a two-part article that’s been more than fifteen years in the making. For a little context, my arrival in Los Angeles landed me behind a telephone at the Exodus Film Group... where I pitched would-be investors on family entertainment for two long years. Probably the best part of working at Exodus, apart from the mentorship I received, was spending time with Basil Poledouris - who wrote the film score for RoboCop and many other personally …

How to Discuss Other People’s Work

Despite our industry’s accountability for swathing Donald Trump in the vestments of television celebrity, despite the recent commencement of Harvey Weinstein’s necessary and historic criminal court proceedings... the biggest news coming out of Hollywood today has involved a handful of celebrated filmmakers and their very public commentary on the value of comic book movies, the social ethics of their contemporaries, and the overall state of cinematic craft. To be absolutely cl…

How to Get Legendary Performances from Actors

Most people in Hollywood have no idea what actors actually do. Modern Hollywood sees the ideal actor for any given role as the person who most closely resembles that character’s “look,” and who projects a demeanor that most accurately parrots whatever performance the director and the producers might be imagining. In advertising, these are fundamentally essential performance techniques because portraying a product or service in a clear, specific tone is how you get peopl…

Get That "Built-In Audience"

Happy New Year, Stage 32! My goal is to start this year with some fighting words, to dispell some of the privileges and entitlements that are holding us back, and to empower our community to seize the reigns of our crazy, runaway culture. Put on your safety belts and helmets, dear readers… because the year is 2020, and the future is in our hands! Ten years ago or so when I was an active freelancer in the film finance world, one of the myths Hollywood leaned on very heavily in our…

The Ghosts of Show Business Past

If you’ve been following my blogs here on Stage 32, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m someone with a more or less severe personality type. For me, the holidays are a time when everyone else finally leaves Los Angeles and I can work without being surrounded by distraction or noise. Typically, my colleagues come back from vacation to find that I’ve finished one more screenplay and gotten myself caught up on a mountain of work besides. MATTERS OF THE HEART…

How I Survived the Hollywood Crash

In my blogs on “How We Screwed the Showbiz Culture Up” and “Why I Passed On That Screenplay,” I talk a fair bit of trash about how the ethical and creative practices of Hollywood’s development process have strayed from the fundamentals that made this industry strong. By far, the most common and rational response to the ideas I’m expressing in these rants is that “THIS IS A BUSINESS.” If we get caught up in the creative - or even the ethical…

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