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How to Succeed In Hollywood

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Bruce Edwin is CEO of www.StarpowerManagement.com and founding publisher of The Hollywood Sentinel. A writer, producer, and entrepreneur, he represents over 10 billion dollars worth of deals in the areas of fine art, real estate, movie studios,  stars, and motion picture among more.

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He gives here his free article on How to Succeed In Hollywood, as his way of giving back to actors, models, bands, singers, writers, and others pursuing success in Hollywood, with a good moral perspective–for free. In this issue, Bruce gives advice to aspiring screenwriters.

How to Succeed As a Screenwriter In Hollywood

1, Know your place and pay your dues by showing respect until you make it big. Until you are an Oscar nominated or Golden Globe nominated or winning screenwriter, realize that the production companies, producers, and directors don’t need you, you need them. Don’t act like you are doing them a favor by sending your material or trying to get them to receive it.

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2, Be prepared and follow directions given. When a producer or production company has agreed to look at your work, don’t argue or delay. Have ready exactly what they want, which may include a logline, 1 page synopsis, a 10 page or more treatment, or the full script. Don’t ask them if you can send more than what they ask for, and definitely do not send something not asked for without the OK. This is a good way to get rejected before you even get your material read. Send a query letter first. Do NOT send any logline, script, treatment, or synopsis without getting permission to send it first.

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Have everything ready right away, so that when they ask for it, you are prepared to send it and send it quickly. I had one screenwriter send me a full script, after I told him to only send me a one page synopsis. That is quick way to get rejected. If one cannot follow directions on a simple document to send, one can not be expected to follow directions on a more serious and detailed matter like revising a script to someone’s specifications that is paying them. Follow directions.

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3, Don’t ask questions before you get an offer. After they are looking, or even before they agree to look, don’t ask them questions, which could waste their time and annoy them, when your foot is barely in the door. A writer recently asked me– when I was going to read some of his work, what the difference was between an agent and a manager, in addition to about a half a dozen other questions, which I simply had no time for. Had he actually researched The Hollywood Sentinel Archives site at www.TheHollywoodSentinel.com, he would have read my description of this first question. This is not a question to bother a producer, agent, or manager with. We don’t work on commission for no money down to educate people for free. O.K.–actually I DO educate people for free, but I am a rare exception–and even I have limits. Until you have a contract offer, don’t hit up agents, managers, or producers with questions or you could kill the deal.

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Also, when someone is looking or considering looking at your deal, it is not the time to ask them about their percentages, films funded, etc. If you don’t trust their expertise, don’t contact them to begin with, and when you do contact them, asking money questions prior to them even saying they are interested in not appropriate, unless again, you are already a top winning or top nominated screenwriter, in which case you will already have a top agent or top manager, which would mean you would not be asking the wrong questions, the agent or manager would be asking the questions for you, in the right manner.

4, When opportunity knocks, answer the door and don’t send them running.
One writer had a handful of scripts I was strongly considering representing. I sent him a short contract, and he told me that he needed over month to get back with me to ‘consider’ our deal. He claimed he needed several weeks for his attorney to look it over, and at least several weeks for him to film a webisode, which would include an extra week or so for camping. I told him that was fine, but that I would probably not be interested in giving him more than 10 business days, and that if he considered our business a priority, he could rush his attorney a bit, get a faster one, or cut his camping trip short, if he got no reception in the woods. He refused, and so I rescinded any and all future interest since he did not jump at the huge opportunity we were giving him. He was shocked, even though I gave him ample time to change his mind and move quicker. Over a year has passed, and no one has heard of this guy since, and my guess is, probably never will. When you have an A-list deal fall on your lap, do all you can to make it happen as fast as you can, and show them that you are eager, and appreciative. If you delay, you may delay your success forever.

5, Thank the person!
If you get a call, visit, or e-mail from a top producer, agent, manager, or director, thank them for their time! My first test of whether or not I will deal with someone, is their manners or lack thereof. I have major investors– worth millions to sometimes even billions of dollars, that graciously thank me for my time, simply because they are classy ladies and gentleman, and are highly cordial and polite, when in fact, I should be the one thanking ‘them,’ and I always do. So when a writer hears from me, and does not thank me for my time, or show gratitude, I automatically lose all respect and interest.

6, Use the persons name, and address them as Mr. or Ms. unless they tell you to otherwise.
Show respect. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, I often experience some other scenario that tops the rest in all manners of ridiculousness. As an example, another writer recently contacted me with no thank you, and actually instead of calling me by any part of my name, addressed me as the letter ‘B’! Not only is this lazy, it’s foolish. Pretend you are communicating with the person face to face. Show respect, and use their name.

7, Don’t give orders. If you are trying to get someone to do something for you, or to communicate with you, or return your communication, ask them, don’t order. Most rich or powerful people have worked very hard to get where they are at, and a part of that freedom they enjoy is not having to take orders from anyone. So, if someone gives them an order, especially when that person is trying to get a favor out of ‘them,’ they can generally forget a deal ever happening. Ask, don’t demand! And that’s an order! (LOL).

8, Answer your phone, and answer blocked calls
. Any time someone that wants me to do something for them spends their time telling me about how they did not answer my call, because they don’t answer blocked calls, not only wastes my time, but sends me the signal that they are either A, control freaks, B, paranoid, or C, have bill collectors after them. I have told this story over and over, but unfortunately, it is one that needs repeating. Atlantic Records called me one time from New York, and the publicist there told me, “Bruce, record labels and film studios, we all call from private, blocked, or even dummy numbers. So if you want to be successful working in Hollywood in the music and film biz, answer private calls!” I thanked this person for that advice, and always took it. And it was true. Every film studio lot I have had an office at, has phones that we had to use through the studio that had automatically programmed private or dummy numbers. For those clueless about dummy numbers, no–its not a number to call dummies or for dummies (LOL).

A dummy number is a fake number that shows up on a caller ID when a studio exec calls someone outside of the studio from that studio based phone. Film studios and record labels use dummy numbers, or blocked ID’s. This has been this way for ages, and is to protect producers and top level industry people from stalkers, etc., and also so we can better control our communication and ‘roll calls’ without interruptions we don’t want, controlling communication on our terms. So, answer your phone, and always answer private calls or numbers you don’t know and don’t complain about it. Complaining about this does not impress anyone, on the contrary, it will only show that you have no experience in dealing with the entertainment industry.

Those that are even bigger control freaks, will sometimes try to call studios execs, agents, managers, or record labels back from their line and block the call, then tell us how they are blocking their line because we always block ours. Duh! No, don’t do that! Again, if you want someone to help YOU, do you want to make it more difficult for them to reach you, or less difficult? Do you want to act like you have a bigger ego than they do, or do you want to act humble? Which brings us to number nine…

9, Lose the Ego! A big ego in Hollywood generally means that you have major credits but have a drug or alcohol problem combined with anger issues, or in most cases with a big ego–NO major credits, and the person is trying to compensate for their lack of talent or accomplishments. In either case, being a jerk is no longer cool–not that it ever really was. So–lose the ego. When The Bible teaches that ‘the Meek shall inherit the Earth.’ I say– “The Meek will inherit Hollywood.” This does not mean to be a pushover or weak, I’m just telling you–lose the ego–do not be an egomaniac. Be cordial, and cool.

The days of egomania are over.
I actually saw an actor once with a shirt that read– It’s all about me!” No– it’s not. It’s all about the other person. No one cares what’s in it for you–they care about what’s in it for them self. That means, you need to think outside of yourself, and let the person know what THEY are going to get out of you, working with you. And in a way–you are thinking of yourself–because that’s the only way it will really work anyway. It’s called karma. Do unto others as you have them do unto you. The few greater evolved in Hollywood, will actually care about you, and even more so, will care about society as a whole. IF you are at that point–congratulations. IF not–strive for that. It’s where it’s at.

10, Be educated. Read Syd Field’s book Screenwriting.  Have a great script that is properly formatted.

11, Make sure that it and your treatment, synopsis, logline, and query letter are perfect, with no errors. Copyright your script with the Library of Congress. WGA registration isaccording to at least one attorney–not necessary, but copyright registration with the Library of Congress is

12, Don’t insult others when you are dealing with them. I had a writer I was going sign not long ago, and he ended up calling one of my producer clients names through me, because she put him in his place–through me. Instead of being humble, and acknowledging her power, he chose to act like a baby, insulting her through me. I did not relay his insults, instead, I just dropped dealing with him, which is probably why is last agent dropped him too. Be calm, cool, level headed, and have an even temper.

Be slow to anger, and quick to forgive. This guy had major talent, but we would not deal with him because he’s basically just a jerk that can’t control his temper when he doesn’t exactly get his way. No one wants to deal with anyone like that, and generally–they won’t. And don’t insult others. This writer was insulting not only a client of mine–but a person I care for a great deal as a friend. Bad move. I will also choose my clients or friends over any stranger–especially an adversarial one. Keep that story in mind, and if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, try not to say anything–at least not unless you would say it to their face. Be cool.

If you have any questions or comments, you can address those to me at the front page of this site.

You can read many more of my answers on How to Succeed In Hollywood at my new Quora page, here below at:

https://www.quora.com/profile/Bruce-Edwin-1

This content is copyright, 2016, Bruce Edwin, Hollywood Sentinel, all right reserved.

The Art of War for Hollywood

Dishonor Killing

 

By Bruce Edwin

In Hollywood, there is generally always someone out there trying to destroy you. Whether it is an actor that tries to ruin your chance of getting the part you both want, an agent or director that ripped you off, or simply the raging lunatic– the anonymous stalker online, slandering and lying about you. In Hollywood, if you expect to survive and thrive for any length of time, you can be sure that eventually, you will most likely encounter an enemy.

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While most people out there in the world ‘are’ basically good, in Hollywood, it may be fair to say that the ‘most’ in that statement is at least a little bit ‘less’ by some percent. Like America, Hollywood is a melting pot of the world, where reportedly a hundred thousand or more people from all over the world travel to each year to try make it in, whatever they think that ‘it’ is.


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For most, that ‘it’ is the ever elusive ‘FAME AND FORTUNE.’ Most of them fail, running back home with their “tail between their legs” (as my acting coach friend likes to say), having failed miserably, and then the next wave gets off the bus. Fresh meat–as Hollywood calls them. After a few years, if the ‘fresh meat’ lasted that long, they have generally suffered a few battle scars, and are a little more wiser– if not totally jaded.

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So what do you do when you–that nice kid from Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, or wherever, gets your first taste of Tinseltown’s ugly side, and you get screwed over in one way or another? What do you do? Do you fight back? Go ballistic online? Sue? Knock their lights out? Or do you try to let it ride, try forgive, forget, and move on?

Turn the Other Cheek or Destroy?

This question is essentially a moral dilemma of sorts. Because if you are a good, happy, honest person that just so happened to be the victim of an evil jerk, you may feel your spirit polluted to some degree if you get down in the trenches and confront them. Do you fight back? Walk away and be quiet? Or what?

How we respond to bad treatment from people should depend on various things;

1, Did the person deliberately hurt you?
2, Have they done this to other people or to you before?
3, Do you think they will do it again?
4, Did they apologize?
5, Do you consider they are basically good or bad?

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6, Are they willing to communicate with you about it or are they hiding from you and
thus avoiding responsibility?
7, To what degree have they hurt you?
8, How quickly did you or can you recover from the hurt?
9, Is your philosophy one of forgiveness, or of revenge?
10, If you choose revenge, or what some prefer to consider ‘retribution’,
how, when, and where will the fighting stop? Or will it stop?!

These are some of the many serious questions we should ask ourselves if, or when someone does us wrong. It is one thing to get accidentally screwed over, but it is quite another to have someone do it on purpose. And, how we interpret and respond to the act of perceived wrongdoing can effect us for better or worse, for the rest of our lives.

As a result, it is imperative;

1, Do not overreact to perceived insults or even provably known actual insults or injuries.

2, Put things into perspective. Give your words and actions a self-imposed delay switch of at least 24 to 48 hours before you make a serious decision as to attack back. I will tell you from experience– while not the easiest in the short-term, forgiveness is usually the best option. If you go around trying to get ‘even’ with ‘every’ person you think did you wrong, you will most likely spend your whole life trying to get even, never catch up, and never have time for anything else–including any happiness in life. It is no fun being angry all the time and having many enemies. It may be fun and entertaining for a while, but it gets old–fast. And, for every action, there is a reaction. If you try to fight back against someone you think did you wrong, then you run the risk of them once again committing another abusive act against you, which could be worse than the first. It is no fun having to watch your back or be paranoid. Mainstream media attempts to induce this fear enough already.

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3, If you do have to fight back to defend yourself in some way, don’t let the fight consume you. Don’t become obsessed with your ‘enemy.’ In fact, don’t even give them the power of being ‘your’ enemy. Don’t honor them with such a lofty title. Many of our so-called enemies actually ‘seek’ to be our enemy, and are proud and most happy when they are. Sometimes, one of the most radical acts we can do is to forgive our enemies!

Sometimes, an enemy hits us so hard that it really hurts, and they will keep on doing damage if we don’t fight back. This is similar to the thug on the street that attacks someone and starts beating them up. One should run away fast–yes, but if they have the person in a choke-hold and are trying to choke them to death for example, then they better take some action to fight back, and fast–if they don’t want to end up badly hurt, or worse–dead. Sometimes, we need to fight back–and hard. This is never pleasant, but in Hollywood, where the competition is fierce, and psychotic jerks abound that will sometimes crawl out of the gutter and attack, sometimes it is necessary.

When you decide that you have fight back– if it is not a physical attack, try to set aside one hour or so on one specific day per week to handle it, until it is dealt with. The rest of the time during your life, give it no attention, and give them no thought. Do not allow an enemy to infect your mind and ruin your peace within your soul or your happiness. This is exactly what the spiritual or human enemy wants–they want to steal your peace and your happiness. Do not let them.

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Great men have fallen by small attacks from weak enemies, simply because they gave them too much power over their emotions. They let the enemy steal their peace, their joy, and thus, their success in life. Many great men have allowed the infection of hatred to poison their body to the point where their health suffers to such a degree, they end up dead. It is true, that stress, and anger can kill. It is a brutal, yet silent and covert enemy actually covered up within an enemies own attack! But like a silent bomb, stress and hate concerning an enemy can covertly kill if one lets it. Do NOT give an enemy that power over you! This is exactly what they want!

The enemy wants you stressed, upset, angry, and sick! Instead, rule your own mind, your heart, and your soul. Let your spirit be filled with love and happiness. Forgive as much as you can, give amnesty to all you can reason to, and put yourself in your enemy’s position. Be a man or woman of logic, of grace, and of peace.

If you believe in ‘God,’ you surely want God to be forgiving toward you. We are certainly not perfect human beings. If you don’t believe in God, or care about God’s forgiveness, then you at least want your friends and loved ones to forgive you when you accidentally do wrong. Right? Wouldn’t it be terrible if–every time we made a mistake or did wrong, everyone shunned us, and left us forever, or attacked us back and then left? That would be awful! And so, what harm is it to try to forgive a stranger, when we would at least try to extend the same courtesy to a loved one in order to keep them in our life, and we would like them to forgive us?

When we treat a stranger as an enemy by not forgiving them, we can not expect a stranger to forgive us the next time we harm them. Life is–whether you realize it or not, like a wheel of karma. When we treat someone wrong, they will want to treat us wrong. Or if they don’t, then someone else will–sooner or later. The golden rule of “Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated” is of vital importance. It is not only a wise moral decision, it is in fact, a key to success in life, and yes–to Hollywood.

The Art of War for Hollywood

The Art of War for Hollywood then, is not so much a war with others, but rather, it is a war within yourself. That is, it is a battle within your own mind and soul to rise above your ego, to your higher self. To forgive others as you yourself would like to be forgiven by God–if you will, or by your loved ones, or by strangers yourself when you harm another. War is never good, it is never a solution to strive for. An eye for an eye, as the saying goes, leaves everyone blind. Granted, sometimes we must strike back, to stop an abuser and preserve our life or the life of our loved ones or our business. But if and when you can, forgive. Or if you can not forgive, then at least grant amnesty, grant them grace, grace to go on in peace, hoping they learned. Grant yourself the grace to live in peace, and hold love above all, as your highest virtue. Hatred literally leads to death, and love is life. Give love, and spread the word. This is the Art of War for Hollywood. Peace. –Bruce Edwin

The Hollywood Sentinel makes no claims regarding any product or service herewith, and assumes no liability thereof. This content and title are copyright (c). 2016, Bruce Edwin, all rights reserved.

Remembering Humanity

jack reacher--hollywood sentinelJack Reacher Debuts in Theaters on October 21st, 2016

I’ve been watching a lot of older, great films lately. One thing that I am reminded about, when viewing motion picture, is something that I learned in one of my screenwriting classes, and that is that every well developed character in a film needs a backstory. What that means is this…take Will Smith’s character in “The Pursuit of Happyness” for example; We see that he is trying to get a good paying job, and make good money. But why? We quickly learn it is to take care of his young boy. But so what? Why is that? We learn it is because his characters father was not around for him, and he promises himself that he will never do that to his child. He will be there for ‘his’ boy. Now ‘that’ is a compelling motivation. His motivation for success runs deep–beyond the ordinary man. He ‘must’ succeed in order to not only care for himself, but to care for his boy, and to help break the cycle of abuse and abandonment that his spirit carries.

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The Backstory of a Character

When a film has no backstory, that is, when the character’s motivation is not clearly established, we generally feel nothing for them. Why do they do what they do? What are they running from or towards? Are they compelled by love, fear, jealousy, hate, or what? In order to have a powerful character in a film we care about, we generally need to see or understand some of the inner compulsion of the character. Without backstory, without the reason ‘why’ they are doing what they do, we generally have no emotional development, and thus–no care for the character.

The greatest films, fueled by the greatest screenplays, have greatly developed characters that we ‘feel’ for. That we either greatly hate, or most often generally love, or can relate to. Without knowing something deep and personal about the character, we typically feel that the character is empty, shallow, and void of depth or meaning. We don’t care about them, and therefore, do not relate strongly to the film. A great character of depth helps create in cinema what we call the ‘suspension of disbelief,’ whereby our conscious mind momentarily forgets the outside world, and relates wholly to the character on screen, considering their pain–our pain, their truth–our truth, and their victory–our victory.

The Force Within Us

When Luke Skywalker conquers the evil Darth Vadar, it is not just Luke we are cheering for, it is for the universal good in us all. “Star Wars” creator George Lucas tapped in to what Joseph Campbell referred to in his book and video “The Power of Myth,” as the classical archetype, which extends across all time, space, lands, and generations. It is the inborn spirit in humanity that years for truth, for love, and for the greater good. Without archetype, without ‘reason’ in our characters, our stories are often flawed, and our sense of wonderment, awe, and compassion is either lost, or worse still–never there to begin with.

Life Imitates Art

I want to ask you to think for some time about your life as a movie script. How many strangers do you see each day that are not developed in your mind? In other words, how many people out there do you encounter that you know nothing about? That you have no backstory for? The reality is, we ‘all’ have a story. We all have a backstory–a reason for why we do what we do–right or wrong. We all have something we are running from, or towards. We all have hopes, dreams, fears, weaknesses, hates, loves, motivations, and things that inspire and compel us. Yet how can we ‘feel’ any care, compassion, or sympathy, let alone any empathy, for those characters in our lives–those ‘strangers,’ when we have no emotional bond compelling us to see them as anything more than just a blip on the screen of our life? What concern will we feel when that stranger is just as another flat, boring, irrelevant character on the screen, that we know nothing about?

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I want to remind you that ‘you’ are an undeveloped character to someone, to a stranger–just as I am to many. Those that become ‘famous’ have a two dimensional view of them ‘known’ by many, but even this is not ‘knowing.’ How can you know a person? Just as we know a character. We know where they came from, we know where they are going, we know a bit of their soul and what drives them; their passions, their weaknesses, their loves, their fears, their hopes, and their obsessions.

Strangers–The Undeveloped Characters of Our Life

Unlike the movies, the undeveloped characters–those ‘strangers’ in our life really are developed, they really are deep–we just haven’t heard, seen, or read their stories. And yet how many times do we pass by a stranger, giving not a thought nor care to their life, to their feelings, to their humanity? How many hundreds of thousands of homeless on the streets in Los Angeles and every major city throughout the world have a story–a purpose they are not fulfilling, a dream they yearn to see come true?

We are all human, we all have a spirit, a purpose– a soul. I want to remind you as I also remind myself, that while we can shut off the characters on T.V, or in the movies who we don’t feel anything for, we should think twice before shutting off our feelings, compassion, or interest for those we know nothing about in the real world. Everyone has feelings. People matter, whether you know them well or not, they were once an innocent, helpless child, they were once full of life and hope–they had dreams, and yes, somewhere deep inside, beyond all the unknowing, beyond all the fear, regret, pain, remorse, or hate, beyond all their goals not yet achieved–they still may dream of something magical and magnificent. We all have feelings–we all have a passion, a purpose, yearning to break free.

I dare you today, to go out into the world during your day, and help someone in need. Help someone get their hope back that may have lost it, or their faith in the decency of humanity. It is good to get what we want, to have our goals, and achieve them; there is nothing wrong with that, that is healthy, and necessary. But as we do better and better each day, it is also our responsibility to remember others–to help when we can, to do more. Let’s build better characters not only on the big screen, but in our own lives.  And together, we can all watch a life–our life as it unfolds–that we are proud of.

–Bruce Edwin

Copyright, 2016, Bruce Edwin, The Hollywood Sentinel, all rights reserved.

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns with his particular brand of justice in the highly anticipated sequel JACK REACHER:  NEVER GO BACK.  Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is the Army Major who heads Reacher’s old investigative unit. She is arrested for Treason and knowing that she is innocent, Reacher must break her out of prison and uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear their names and save their lives.  On the run as fugitives from the law, Jack Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.  Based upon JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, author Lee Child’s 18th novel in the best-selling Jack Reacher series, that has seen 100 million books sold worldwide.
Jack Reacher text, and image are used with permission with courtesy of Paramount Pictures, copyright 2016, Paramount Pictures, all rights reserved. The Hollywood Sentinel, 2016.