I found this great youtube video showcasingÂ pretty much all the films made in 2010.Â Check it out!
Tagged: West Coast
Check out this article from Geek O System on how Pixar’s bosses Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull saved their employees from getting fired:
How Pixar Bosses Saved Their Employees from Layoffs
by Robert Quigley | 10:07 am, January 11th, 2011
Today, Pixar may be a multibillion dollar company seemingly capable of doing no wrong in the box office, but in its early days as Lucasfilmâ€™s computer animation division, its future was far from certain. Indeed, in the mid-â€™80s, some at Lucasfilm doubted the value of computer animation, and the division faced deep layoffs. Then, its two heads, Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull, saved it in a positively Pixaresque way.
The Harvard Business Review recently spoke to 25+ year Pixar vet Craig Good, who recounted the remarkable story:
[Lucasfilm president Doug] Norby was pressing Catmull and Smith to do some fairly deep layoffs. The two couldnâ€™t bring themselves to do it. Instead, Catmull tried to make a financial case for keeping his group intact, arguing that layoffs would only reduce the value of a unit that Lucasfilm could profitably sell â€¦ But Norby was unmoved. As Craig tells it: â€śHe was pestering Ed and Alvy for a list of names from the Computer Division to lay off, and Ed and Alvy kept blowing him off. Finally came the order: You will be in my office tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a list of names.â€ť
So what did these two bosses do? â€śThey showed up in his office at 9:00 and plunked down a list,â€ť Craig told me. â€śIt had two names on it: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.â€ť
The gutsy move worked, and not a single employee of what would soon become Pixar was fired. Not long afterwards, Lucasfilm spun Pixar off as its own company under Catmullâ€™s and Smithâ€™s leadership, selling it to Steve Jobs for $5 million; two decades later, Disney would buy it for $7.4 billion.
Seriously guys..please hire me
For the past year I have been working freelance as a production assistant and I have to admit there are some days when I wish I could finally land a full time job.Â It admittedly gets very old having to look for a new job every couple of months.Â That being said I think my career path would take a different turn in the industry if I decided to stop working freelance, and here are my options:
I could try to find a position as a producer or director’s assistant.Â The pro’s of this position would be that I would be working directly or close to directly underneath an producer in Hollywood and I would be somewhat involved with the films or tv shows that he/she is working on.Â I would be doing a lot of script coverage which means I would be reading scripts and taking notes on them to help the producer decide if the script is worth them reading.Â The con’s would be that I would be doing a lot of regular assistant duties like scheduling, answering phones, and picking up coffee.
I could also work at a network or a studio as someone’s assistant.Â There are a lot of different divisions at a studio and a network from legal and financing to development and business affairs.Â Depending on who I am assisting my job could differ howeverÂ most likely I would end up doing a lot of regular assistant duties with a few interesting projects thrown in.
Last but not least I could become a personal assistant to a director, writer or even a celebrity.Â In this position my main job would be dealing with scheduling, and basically organizing that persons life, which could usually end up meaning I would have no personal life of my own.
As you can see most of these positions are not the most glamorous positions, but then again neither is being a PA.Â Either way I will have to work my way up from the bottom.
I have never really been an assistant so I’d love to hear someone’s experience being one.Â Email your story or post it in the comments.
As the gig I am currently on sadly comes to an end with no second season picked up I figured it would be a great time to blog about job hunting.Â I know it sucks..but as a freelancer you always have to keep looking for work.Â Here are a few avenues that you can go through to find the best thing for you:
Call or email your past contacts
This is possibly the most important thing you can do.Â All those people you worked on set with before are probably working on a new production now.Â While you were working you should have gotten all of their contact information so put that to use and email them to see what they are up to.Â DO NOT just flat out as for a job because that will usually annoy people.Â Create some form of a conversation that will lead to them asking about if you are working and hopefully they will know someone that needs help.
There are a few job sites that are usually pretty good to check out when looking for production work.Â Some are free while others charge per month to use the service.
www.mandy.com – free
www.craigslist.org – free
www.realitystaff.com- free and subscription (The subscription allows you to write more in your cover letter).
www.entertainmentcareers.net – subscription
www.media-match.com – subscription
www.filmstaff.com – subscription
www.productionweekly.com – subscription
You can also check out specific production company websites, studio websites, imdb in the forums section (though it is shady sometimes) and any other place you can think of.Â If anyone knows of any more websites please let me know!
Go to a networking event
This is just like calling your old contacts, however, here you are making new ones.Â A lot of different film groups or societies tend to have networking parties that you can attend.Â Google or ask your other friends in production and go armed with your business card.
Cold calling/ emailing companies
You can always cold call and email production companies to find if they are hiring crew or if they keep potential crew resume’s on file.
UTA job list
This as I have mentioned before is a list created by UTA of all the assistant positions in Hollywood.Â This list is awesome if you are looking to be an assistant, but very bad if you are looking to actually work on set in a production.Â Keep in mind thousands of people receiveÂ this list so don’t be surprised if you never hear back when you apply for something.Â If you want to receive the UTA job list email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to remember to not doubt yourself and give up.Â There are a lot of production companies and projects filming that need a hand.Â Keep at it and eventually you will land a gig.Â Happy hunting!
So I recieved this question in my inbox from Justin about the UTA Job list:
Thanks so much for sending that along. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your connection to the industry? Do you work for an agency? Some of the articles I’ve read made the List seem pretty unobtainable unless you knew the right people so I was just kind of curious how you got it. I understand if you can’t tell me. And I was wondering how often they update it and who it gets sent to once they do. Do they always send it to the same people, and if you get it once does that mean you’ll necessarily get it again? I’m sorry if this is too much, but you did say not to hesitate to ask questions. And I’m trying to absorb as much information as I can about assistant/mailroom/trainee positions out there.
Well first a foremost I am just a freelance production assistant and I have no “real” connection to the UTA Job list.Â I actually get the job list through a friend who probably gets it from a friend that gets it through a friend.Â The list is actually kept very secret by those who create it and apparently if you contact UTA and ask about the list they will deny that it even exists.Â The best way to get the list is to get it from someone else that already gets it.Â Â Â As for who the list actually gets sent to I have no idea.Â I honestly think know one really knows except for the person that physically sends out the list.Â I would love to one day speak to that person, however, that has not happened yet.
As for being an assistant/mailroom/trainee it all really depends on what you want to eventually end up doing.Â If you want to work at a talent agency working in the mailroom and then moving up to an assistant is the way to go.Â If you want to work in production you can go a few ways.Â The first is finding work as a producer’s or director’s assistant.Â Here you will work directly under that person and learn a ton while doing so.Â However, there is a downside to this.Â You will most likely not being working on set. Â You will be spending most of your time doing general assistant tasks such as organizing your boss’s calendar, answering phones and reading scripts.Â The other way to break in is the way I am, by being a production assistant.Â You can work a PA on several different types of projects for web, tv and film and slowly start to work your way up.Â Either way know that you are starting on the lowest rung on the ladder and that someday hopefully you will make it to the top.
I came across this great article from the hollywood temp diaries (www.tempdiaries.come) today:
I and other film creatives my age — recent college grads hoping to find work — have noticed a growing trend of replacing paid employment opportunities with internships to such a degree that the entry-level job has been virtually eradicated.
This applies even to those with degrees from major schools; one glance at the private USC Cinema job board shows one (usually independent) paid opportunity for every 10 internships. I honestly I feel that the next generation of California filmmakers is being irreparably damaged by this trend; since few are being hired and moving up the chain, the producers, directors, crew members and execs who currently helm the industry may not have anyone to take their places when they retire or move up themselves.
This is just one of the myriad problems caused by unpaid internships. Another huge issue is that only very well-off or financially supported individuals can afford to work many months at a job for no pay, dramatically slanting the playing field against minorities and many women. And while, once upon a time, internships at least held the promise of mentorship, today there’s little or — more typically — no training to be found.
It seems that the point of internships today is solely to replace paid employees in order to cut costs. Yet, legally, work performed by an intern must be of no direct financial benefit to the company. Interns are not supposed to be doing for free the tasks normally performed by a paid employee.Â And while photocopying and providing coverage certainly bend that rule, supposedly reputable companies are breaking that rule more and more egregiously, as no one seems to challenge “internship” listings such as this one from the LA Kings (from Craigslist):
The Los Angeles Kings are seeking an energetic individual who would like to gain experience in a fast-paced production environment. We are currently in need of an intern to assist in video production and post-production at our offices in El Segundo. Candidates should be interested in the creative process specific to sports production. Interns will have the opportunity to experience all facets of development and production and work closely with the current team in place. This is a great opportunity to get into the industry with a great organization while enhancing your production skills!
Do not respond to this ad unless you completely understand the role and compensation. If you have read through the entire ad, please put the word “Kopitar” in the subject line of your email. Also, please briefly explain your hockey knowledge.
Include observing and participating in all aspects of video production.
- Assisting producer with archiving and logging footage.
- Assisting producer with shooting interviews, b-roll.
- Assistance with clip reels, DVD duplication, editing, etc.
- Candidate must be currently enrolled at an accredited college or university pursuing a degree in production/broadcasting. Must receive college credit for internship
- Candidate must have knowledge of Outlook and Microsoft Word.
- Ability to multi-task and work in a fast paced environment.
- Candidates must possess excellent oral and written communication skills
- Candidates must possess excellent organizational skills.
- Ability to work 20 hours a week
- Experience using Final Cut Pro
- Understanding of audio and video equipment
- Basic hockey knowledge
There is no “training opportunity” to be found anywhere in this listing or the many listings like this. In fact, rather than offer skills to be learned, these “internships” require their trainees to already have professional training in order to perform their duties. Why is this allowed to continue unchecked?
For almost every unpaid “internship” out there, there’s a hard-working employee not contributing to local and federal taxes, medicare or Social Security. There’s an employee not covered by sexual harassment protection or protection from discrimination or receiving health care. There’s an employee, potentially on unemployment, who will eventually have to move out of state in order to pay bills and put food on the table.
To put the icing on the cake, most companies in town refuse to hire anyone with only internship experience in that rare case when a job is even offered. I have a friend with great work ethic who’s held a half-dozen internships — reading scripts, covering novels, writing thousands of words for Avatar‘s viral advertising campaign, you name it — only to be told that he doesn’t have the “experience” to do his own job for a pay check.
The economics of Hollywood are screwy right now, but taking advantage of the lowest of the low won’t fix it.Â And if you pay us, we can afford to see your movies and no longer bootleg versions from BitTorrent.Â Everybody wins.
Got something you want to say about the state of Hollywood?Â Send it to email@example.com.
As things are slowly start to wind down on the series I am working on with not a good chance of a second season in sight I am starting to wonder (aka slightly panic) about what I am going to do next.
While job searching today online I came across this great article on keypa.net andÂ it reminded me of the time my mother told me to get a job as a PA on Guys Gone Wild because “they are just hot boys taking off their shirts”.
Yesterday morning someone sent over a job opportunity for a Production / Administrative Assistant at a prominent Adult Entertainment company.
Before passing it on to people, it got me thinking: do I potentially want to be responsible for launching someones career in Porn?
Two years ago I spent a few days in the field as a sound mixer with a documentary crew while we did interviews with Vivid (both on set and in their offices).
Granted, everyone acts differently when cameras are around, even if you arenâ€™t recording, but all in all their offices were pretty awesome and everyone we met seemed to be very happy and friendly. I remember being slightly surprised to see so many family pictures on peopleâ€™s desks.
Before stepping onto their set I definitely had expectations (Boogie Nights, Weedâ€™s, Family Guy) and with the location for that day being in a dingy warehouse basement in downtown LA, I thought they were going to come true. By the time we wrapped, it felt like your standard indie movie set.
The most interesting part was meeting the crew. Everyone was in good spirits and happy to be working. The make up artist said that it was good work, but she would use a fake name for the credits and left those types of jobs off her resume.
I have a slew of friends who have dabbled behind the scenes in the world of erotica and everyone always says its not as sexy as youâ€™d think, but it pays well.Â Imagine editing teaser trailers for something like the Playboy channel, your day is spent scanning through movies for sexy facial expressions and unique positions.Â As much as everyone needs to pay the bills, you should always be working towards your goals.
If youâ€™re not comfortable putting it on your resume, it shouldnâ€™t be your full time job. No matter what industry it is.
When all is said and done if you donâ€™t have any personal objections to working on porn, the biggest downside (generally) is the work youâ€™re doing doesnâ€™t hold as much credibility in other areas of the entertainment industry.
Whatâ€™s the point of doing all that work and not getting any credit? Money will only get you so far.
Regardless of if you end up on a porno set or not, odds are you wonâ€™t get a chance to rub noses with the stars. However, if that was all you were looking for you should just head over to Sardoâ€™s in Burbank on Tuesday Nights for Porn Star Karaoke. No joke, itâ€™s an adult industry event thatâ€™s been going on since 2003 and everyoneâ€™s welcome.
What do you think, would you work on set or in the office for an Adult Entertainment company?
Found this article while searching for answers online:
How to Make a Production Coordinator ResumeBy Scott Nicholas Amendolare, eHow Contributor
In my time in the entertainment industry, Iâ€™ve seen thousands of rĂ©sumĂ©â€™s come across my desk. The irony is that oftentimes a person with the highest level of skill has a more difficult time selling themselves on paper whereas a person with less skill has no problem selling their experience beyond their true abilities. A Production Coordinator is hired for their ability to be highly efficient and organized and your resume must reflect that. This article will show you how to construct an effective Production Coordinator resume. Please look to the example rĂ©sumĂ© in order to see the step by step applications of the directions.Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need:
- A computer with printing capabilites
Lay out your personal information in a clear, simple and professional manner. This is important as it says so much about you as an individual. Avoid overly fancy fonts and ostentatious presentation. List you name in an 18- to 22-point font. In this example, the name is prominent with a line underneath to separate the contact information. List your full name and address with all your contact numbers as well as an email address.
Lay out your primary work experience. Start with information about work directly related to the job you are going after. For this example we will be using a rĂ©sumĂ© with a three-column format as it makes this clean and easy to read, and condenses the information so that you can limit the number of pages. Starting with the left column, list the job title you held. In the next column, list the title of the show you worked on. In the last column list the company that produced the show and the year it was released.
Next, lay out your directly related experience. This is experience that is similar to the coordinator position. List experience that shows you have held positions of responsibility and were required to perform tasks that are similar to the ones you are looking to perform.
List any special award(s) that you have earned over the course of your career.
List any special skills, software knowledge, guild or union membership and language ability that would be pertinent to the entertainment industry.
List your education. Make sure that you list any educational distinctions you have earned during that time. Do not forget to list years of graduation.
On the bottom of the page, centered in the middle, type the line: References available upon request. Although some people like to list their references on a separate sheet, it is really more professional to have a prospective employer request them.
Tips & Warnings
- Make things clean and simple.
- Do not list your references.
- Use no larger than a 12-14pt font for the headings and 10 points for the information.
- Spacing of the resume should be as follows: Use a 9pt space for the line per credit and a 12pt space to separate each of the headings.
- Do not pad your resume; people can tell when you are lying.
When you are working on set as a PA there is a long list of do’s and don’ts that you should really be aware of.Â One of the most important (I think) do’s is do think before you act or react.Â Now I honestly thought that this was pretty self explanatory but apparently I was wrong.
While working on a set a few weeks back I heard through the grapevine of a situation that one of the other PA’s had gotten themselves into.Â A lot of times a production coordinator or production manager will give a PA money to go pick up things that are needed on set.Â On this day one of the newbie PA’s was sent out to go pick up food for some of the executive producers.Â Now this should be a fairly easy task for any PA.Â You place the order, you go to the restaurant, you double and triple check to make sure the order is right,Â you grab a receipt and bring back the food.Â Depending on how far the restaurant is this whole process should not take you very long unless you are picking up food for the entire crew which is a whole other blog post for another time.
This PA was only supposed to pick 3 orders of dinner from a restaurant that is literally across from our production office.Â The order was placed at 6pm and the restaurant had told whoever called that it would be ready in 10-15 min.Â Our production manager hands the PA money and tells her to grab a receipt.Â The PA then heads out to grab the food.Â Fifteen minutes pass and the PA has not yet returned with the food.Â Our production manager tries her on walkie but she doesn’t answer.Â He then calls her cell, however, it is apparently turned off.Â Â Â Thirty minutes go by and there is still no PA in sight with the producers food.Â At this point you can probably guess that my production manager is pissed.Â Forty five minutes pass and finally our newbie PA waltzes into the production office on her cell phone.Â She drops off the food on the desk and waltzes back outside to finish her phone conversation.
When she returns back into the production office she is called in to speak with our production manger.Â Now I don’t know what exactly was said, however, I heard that she made the biggest mistake a PA ever could make.Â Instead of just shutting her mouth and saying “I’m sorry, this is my fault.”Â she blamed everyone else possible and then proceeded to tell the production manager why he was wrong and out of line.
Needless to say this newbie PA was not on set the next day, or ever again for that matter.
I found this interesting article from ScriptShadow.Â Check it out:
A question I always like to ask people in the know is, â€śWhat kind of character should you write to give yourself the best chance to attract an A-List actor?â€ť The reason I ask is because thereâ€™s no quicker way to get your script sold or made into a movie than to attach a star. Chances are that manager, agent, or producer whoâ€™s reading your script right now is wondering, â€śWho can I get to play this part?â€ť Unfortunately, so far, nobodyâ€™s given me a clear-cut answer. Maybe thatâ€™s because actors, like anybody, are all different. They have different interests, different needs, different tastes. But that doesnâ€™t mean we canâ€™t find commonalities in their choices. Maybe, if we can identify these common factors, we can write scripts that have a better chance of selling.
Now thereâ€™s no perfect way to go about this so this is how Iâ€™m gonna do it. First, we need to agree on what an A-List actor is. An A-list actor is someone who can open a movie to at least 20 million dollars on his name alone. People go to see the latest Denzel movie. People go to see the latest Will Ferrell movie. These are actors who get you to open your wallet. Shia LaBoeufâ€™s name can certainly scrounge up enough money to make a low-rent thriller, but no one out there says, â€śMan, I gotta go see the latest Shia LaBoeuf movie,â€ť so he and other actors of his ilk are out.
I also needed a systematic way to choose the roles Iâ€™m going to break down. So what Iâ€™m going to do is take eleven A-list actors and dissect their last starring role. I know some of you are going to whine about the actors I left out but with 25 A-List Actors, I had to cut a few folks. These eleven represent the actors whose roles I know best and therefore can give the best breakdowns of.
Also, I am quite aware that actors sign onto movies for reasons other than the character itself. I think itâ€™s a safe bet that Leo wanted to work with Christopher Nolan bad enough that he wouldâ€™ve made a movie with him as a deaf librarian trapped in a meat locker. But even in cases such as these, itâ€™s likely that the actor shaped the character into a part he wanted to play. So that character is still relevant to this discussion. Letâ€™s not waste any more time. Here are ten stars, plus one, with the last role they chose to play and why.
Actor: Will Smith
The movie: Seven Pounds.
The part: A gritty role where a man wants to commit suicide to donate his organs to seven needy individuals.
Why he likely chose it: At first glance, this part simply seems like an opportunity for an actor to emote. He gets to cry, he gets to look depressed. Itâ€™s a serious role that on the surface gets an actor some street cred. But if we dig a little deeper we find something interesting: Smith is playing a role where he sacrifices himself to save others. Can you think of a more heroic act than sacrificing your own life to save other people? This may sound crazy but actors have big egos and what better way to massage that ego than to play God, which is what Will Smith is doing here.
Actor: Denzel Washington
The movie: Book of Eli
The part: A loner delivering the last bible in a dangerous post-apocalyptic world.
Why he likely chose it: Actors like to be the badass. They like to kick ass. And they like to look cool doing it. Whatâ€™s cooler than a loner who cuts down his attackers in samurai-like stylistic flourishes? But thatâ€™s not the only thing going on here. Denzelâ€™s character rarely speaks. Now younger actors always want a lot of lines. They equate more lines with more screen time. Older actors, particularly A-listers, like to occasionally tackle roles where they have very few lines, the reason being that it stretches their acting muscles. They have to act with their eyes and their bodies, which is much harder to do. Oh, and not to be outdone by Will Smith, did you notice that Denzel is also playing God? Heâ€™s delivering the bible in order to save the world. How much more heroic can you get?
Actor: Tom Cruise
The movie: Knight and Day
The part: A mysterious super-agent who must include a woman on his mission when he mistakenly involves her.
Why he likely chose it: First of all, actors love to play spies. The reason for this is that spies are inherently conflicted. Theyâ€™re always lying to everyone. Theyâ€™re always having to keep secrets from the people closest to them. That inner struggle is very appealing to an actor. On top of that, Cruiseâ€™s character is a cape short of a superhero. Heâ€™s capable of superhuman feats – jumping on cars, leaping out of planes, killing dozens of enemies without breaking a sweat – What actor wouldnâ€™t want to play someone so badass? And the cherry on top? The role allows Cruise to be charming and funny, creating the ultimate movie star role.
Actor: Brad Pitt
The movie: Benjamin Button
The part: A man who ages backwards.
Why he likely chose it. Well in this case, we know exactly why Brad Pitt chose this role, as heâ€™s talked on record about it numerous times. He chose the role under the stipulation that he get to play every single part, from Benjamin in his 80s to Benjamin as a baby. In the end, Fincher didnâ€™t let him do this â€“ but you can bet he told him heâ€™d be able to. Out of all the characters Iâ€™m covering here, this one is probably the most unique, but itâ€™s clear why Pitt chose it. Itâ€™s the ultimate acting challenge â€“ playing a person at every age of their life. What actor wouldnâ€™t be interested in that?
Actor: Angelina Jolie
The movie: Salt
The part: A CIA officer whoâ€™s accused of being a Russian spy.
Why she likely chose it: Again, we have another spy role. So the reasons for choosing it are similar to Knight and Day. The conflict of lying to those closest to you. The fun of performing superhuman acts of heroism. Indeed, itâ€™s not surprising that Cruise was once attached to this role. Itâ€™s also of note that the actress gets to play a female part that isnâ€™t typically cast for females (and in this case, was actually written for a man). I think that appealed to Jolie in an â€śI can do that tooâ€ť way. The one difference between this and the Knight and Day role is that thereâ€™s no humor here. But thatâ€™s because Jolie doesnâ€™t have a sense of humor.
Actor: Johnny Depp
The movie: Alice in Wonderland
The part: The Mad Hatter
Why he likely chose it: First off, youâ€™re playing an iconic character. Every actor wants to play an iconic character. But outside of that, Deppâ€™s reasoning was probably similar to Pittâ€™s. Itâ€™s another â€śultimate acting challenge.â€ť In general, actors like to play characters who are mad/insane because it allows them to go crazy with the character. Well The Mad Hatterâ€™s the ultimate version of this. Heâ€™s got â€śmadâ€ť right there in his name! So to be able to have the latitude to go batshit crazy and challenge every fiber of your acting muscles is, indeed, the ultimate challenge. Also, a character this wacky and different doesnâ€™t usually present itself in mainstream fare, so when it does, actors want to snatch it up. (see also: The Joker)
Actor: Leonardo Dicaprio
The movie: Inception
The part: A criminal who builds dream worlds in order to steal from others.
Why he likely chose it: More than most actors out there, Leo values the character arc. He wants to dig into a character and resolve some internal problem just as much as he wants to resolve the outer one. Indeed, it can be argued that the inner journey here is more important than the external journey. Cobb must come to terms with the loss of his wife before he can achieve his goal. Huge portions of Inception are given to his character battling this problem â€“ most of which were ordered by Leo himself. Also of note is just how tortured Cobb is. Tortured characters always appeal to serious-minded actors as a lot of actors are tortured in some way themselves.
Actress: Sandra Bullock
The movie: The Blind Side
The part: A well-off wife who takes in a troubled homeless teenager.
Why she likely chose it: To this day, I donâ€™t know why people liked this movie. I also have no idea how the role won Bullock an Oscar. The character isnâ€™t a particularly complex one other than that she speaks with a southern accent. What I can gather is this. Women are more inclined to help those in need than men. For that reason, I can see why this role would appeal to Bullock. She gets to save someone who otherwise wouldnâ€™t have been saved. Ahhh, wait a minute. Maybe thereâ€™s more to this than meets the eye. Not unlike our friend Will Smith in Seven Pounds, Bullock is *saving* another human being. Maybe roles really are a chance for actors and actresses to massage their egos and play God. Before I get hit with a blind side myself, it should be noted that women rarely get offered roles where theyâ€™re not dependent on a man in some capacity. So actresses are going to jump on these roles when they pop up.
Actor: Steve Carrel
The movie: Dinner for Schmucks
The part: An obsessive clingy mouse taxidermist.
Why he likely chose it: In most comedies, thereâ€™s the straight guy and thereâ€™s the crazy guy. The more innovative you make your crazy guy â€“ the more likely an A-list comedian is going to want to play it. Remember, thereâ€™s not as much range in comedy as there is in other genres, so comedians often play the same role over and over again. They yearn for something different. This role is different in that itâ€™s not a character whoâ€™s overtly funny (a la Jim Carrey in Liar Liar) but more weird. Getting to play someone strange and â€śoffâ€ť is probably a big draw to a comedic actor, because the character has more going on than the typical â€śLook at how funny I am!â€ť character.
Actor: Matt Damon
The movie: Green Zone
The part: An officer in Iraq looking for WMDâ€™s.
Why he likely chose it: Itâ€™s no secret that Matt Damon is a political guy. He forces it down your throat whenever he opens his mouth. So Iâ€™m guessing that was a big factor in why he chose this role. He basically gets to live out his dream â€“ being the guy who *literally* discovers that there are no WMDs in Iraq. But thatâ€™s not all thatâ€™s going on here. Thereâ€™s another trait that A-listers love in a character: The â€śMy way or the highwayâ€ť character. Characters that stand up to authority or refuse to follow orders will always appeal to actors because most actors are rebels themselves (they all rebelled against more conventional career choices when they gave acting a shot). Youâ€™ll notice that a lot of Matt Damon characters are like this, starting all the way back with Good Will Hunting.
Actor: Ben Stiller
The movie: Greenberg
The Part: A formally suicidal man who moves into his brotherâ€™s house.
Why he likely chose it: A lot of our funniest actors are also the most tortured. Judging by the roles Stiller plays outside the comedic arena, Iâ€™m guessing heâ€™s one of these people. Greenberg is all about a character who hates the world around him, hates the people around him, hates his own life. He complains and whines about the most mundane of societal etiquettes. My guess is that Stiller is using this character as a surrogate to deal with similar feelings and frustrations. Indeed, a lot of actors use their roles as therapy, as a way to tackle things that they havenâ€™t been able to resolve in their personal lives.
One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer is not seeing my story through an actorâ€™s eyes. I just try to write the best story possible. Thatâ€™s a problem because your script usually doesnâ€™t get sold or made unless it has an A-List attachment. So you have to ask yourself when writing a script: Is this a role an actor would want to play? Iâ€™m not sure we can make any universal conclusions here, but I did pick up on some trends that might help us answer this question.
First of all, the role has to be challenging in some capacity. True, many of these actors are slapping down product in the middle of the summer where mediocrity reigns supreme, but that doesnâ€™t mean they want neutered down roles. These thespians have gotten to the top of the heap by playing dozens if not hundreds of characters. Theyâ€™re looking for something new and different. Brad Pitt plays a character not only at many different ages in his life, but plays those ages on a reverse timeframe. Thatâ€™s challenging stuff. Denzel Washington plays a character who rarely speaks, who emotes only with his eyes and his actions. Thatâ€™s a challenge. DiCaprio operates in a dreamworld where heâ€™s imprisoned his wife. Every time he then goes into that dreamworld, heâ€™s faced with a sea of conflicting emotions.
Next up, I think your character needs to be heroic. A lot of these characters are saving other people. I hate to state the obvious but actors are very egotistical. They want to play God and save others. Thereâ€™s nothing more heroic than that. Just remember, heroism doesnâ€™t always mean stopping an asteroid from hitting earth. It can mean delivering the last bible across a post-apocalyptic U.S. It can mean committing suicide to have your organs save seven other people. Whether youâ€™re saving a nation or saving others, look for ways to make your characters heroic.
The last thing I noticed was that characters should have something going on inside of them as well as outside. Running around shooting people is fun but itâ€™s not stretching any acting muscles. You gotta giveâ€™em some toys to play with upstairs. Benjamin Button has an ongoing physical transformation as well as having to deal with the realities of being different from everyone else. Denzel Washington gets to shred people into sushi yet must learn to open himself up to others. Tom Cruise gets to fly around on cars but still must learn to be selfless before he can find happiness. Note how in two of these cases (Cruise and Washingtonâ€™s) the internal stuff is tied to the character arc and in Benjaminâ€™s case, itâ€™s more of a general internal battle that never arcs. Thatâ€™s fine. Whether youâ€™re arcing your character or not, at the very least, give them some kind of issue theyâ€™re struggling with internally.
Now by no means is this a conclusive study. The sampling is too small. I encourage you to look at some of your own favorite actors, the ones you envision playing heroes in your scripts, and break down their last ten roles like I did here. See if you can find any patterns in their choices. That could be the key to making them say yes to you.
The most important thing I take away from this is, before you write a single word in your next screenplay, ask yourself if an A-List actor would be interested in playing the hero. I believe this is such an important element to a saleable screenplay that from now on, Iâ€™m adding a new feature to my reviews. If the script Iâ€™m reviewing has an A-List attachment, Iâ€™m going to discuss why that A-Lister probably took the role. Now what are you waiting for? Get back to writing.
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