Sunday, May 2, 2010

From Movie City to Music City, USA by Randall Rutledge

Randall Rutledge. From Movie City to Music City, USA. Calhoun, Ga.: Magic Valley Publishers, 2008.

The author was fascinated by the movie business when, at age 6, he saw a movie being filmed in his home town. He moved to Hollywood in 1982 and broke in as a non-union background artist (i.e. “extra”). His first job was being an extra in “Scarface” at $35 per eight hour day. Overtine, though, often resulted in a $100 daily pay.

Extras have to be on set by 5 am. He recommends bringing along something to do or read while facing hours of boredom.

Actors need 8”x10” black and white head shots. Agents who charge for a photographic portfolio are usually scam artists. In general, an agent more interested in obtaining money or sex from a client is probably a scam artist.

Check that an agent is franchised with the Screen Actors Guild and bonded by the City Clerk’s office. If you discover an agent is scamming you, report the agent to the Department of Consumer Affairs and Better Business Bureau. You can also sue the agent.

Central Casting is the largest legitimate casting agency. They have a (circa 2008) $20 one time photograph fee. Their number is 818-562-2755. Never accept a job and fail to appear without calling. That will end your castings forever. Non-uion registration occurs on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 10:30 to 11:30 am, exactly Non-union pay is $54 per eight hour day with time and a half overtime.

Background Talent charges $25 a month and finds work on TV commercials paying $85 to $125 per day.

From working as an extra, the author found work as a set manager of a movie and as an assistant casting director.

It is against the law for an agent to make you pay upfront. An agent receives 15% of a job the agent books for you.

The author recommends working on independent films over attending acting classes.

The author warns that acting is a cruel business, He quit his non-acting job to accept an acting job but didn’t find work afterwards for awhile. He was homeless for about a year.

There were 26,690 movie theaters or screens in the U.S., 12,886 in India, 4,579 in France, 4,070 in Germany, 3,100 in China, 2.500 in Spain, 2,224 in United Kingdom, 2,163 in Indonesia, about 2,000 in Israel, 1,500 in Mexico, 1,350 in Brazil, 1,317 in Australia, and 1,167 in Sweden.

A screenwriting agent should not charge to read and critique a script. This is an unethical business practice.

A producer seeks financing for a script. The Executive Director supervises the project, sometimes in cooperation with the Co-Producers and help from an Associate Producer. The Supervising Producer works for the Executive Director in overseeing the producers. A Segment Producer is in charge of a segment(s) or a project. A Coordinating Producer works coordinating with other producers to create specific goals. A Line Producer supervises the physical, non-creative part of a project.

Finding financing for a movie can be difficult. Be on the watch for scam artists. Do not violate Security and Exchange laws. Once a film is made it will still require a distribution deal to be seen by the public.

The minimum requirement to join the Producers Guild is to have, over the past three years, producer credits in two or more widely distributed movies, or on two TV movies, or 13 TV episodes on a series, or 26 non-series episodes, or two new media, such as DVD, Internet, game console, interactive TV, wireless, CD-Rom, etc. There is an initial $725 fee to join and $175 dues for every six months. The application fee is $35.

The author observes that everyone on a set treats the Director with the highest respect.

Directors Guild dues are $50 per quarter year plus 1 ½ % of gross earnings from directing, if annual earnings are from $10,000 to $300,000, as well as 1% of all residuals received/

Directors guide actors in acting, choose camera angles, and review the film.

The author warns against entering any screenwriting competition, or most any industry competition, that has an entry fee.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. New York, Harper, 2010.

Silverman discussed her troubled youth as a bed wetter into her teen years, the resulting depression, and the 16 Xanax daily that led to her missing three months of school.

Silverman was inspired while in high school by seeing Wendy Liebman performing her standup comedy at Stiches Comedy Club. Silverman decided to try performing comedy at an open mike show. She states she wasn’t nervous and wonders if bedwetting had removed her fear of facing shame.

After Silverman’s freshman year in college, she quit to pursue standup comedy fulltime. At age 22, she was hired to be a writer and actor on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL).

The SNL writers were mostly a mixture of former writers “Harvard Lampoon”, Harvard University’s humor magazine, and standup comics.

SNL writers would present scripts to be read by the actors on Wednesday. The scripts would be rewritten on Thursdays. Rehearsals would begin on Thursday with continual revisions up to the live Saturday broadcasts.

Once in an SNL meeting, while playfully poking at Al Fraenken’s hair, she accidentally stabbed his scalp. She also had none of the sketches she wrote accepted for broadcast. She was not rehired for the next season.

Silverman refuses to overanalyze her comedy. She believes if one becomes too aware of what one is doing that some of one’s comedic edge is lost. She has been criticized for her humor on racial themes and jokes on celebrities. She hopes people will move forward and be less sensitive.

Silverman did the movie “Sarah Silverman” Jesus Is Magic”. She and the writers then created a pilot for what became “The Sarah Silverman” TV series.

The conclusion of a writers strike required the show to reduce its budget by one third. They decided they would rather do 22 good shows they believed in than to rush to deliver more shows but with less quality.

Silverman is known for her Internet video “The Great Schlep” which encouraged young Jews to contact their relatives in Florida to vote for Obama for President in a state where the race was tight. Another Internet video “Sell the Vatican, Feed the World” received much discussion.

In 2009, Silverman was nominated for an Emmy Award for Comedy Series Lead Actress.