This thread went well last time, so starting again.
Ask someone who has spent a year as an assistant to an A-list Hollywood studio producer anything.
Inb4 "proof faggot", any of that shit. Won't reveal any details which may show who I work for, which studio, anything like that. Sorry, but it's just too risky.
Anything else is a go!
Going to grab a latte, will answer any questions as soon as I'm back.
No, female executives like Pascal are fighters. Absolutely ruthless and uncompromising because they rose through the ranks back when Hollywood was less diverse (at least, those female execs I have experience with).
Well this one time my boss had left a watch at this jewelry place for repairs. They gave us a deadline and they gave us a new deadline when the time came.
My boss DOES NOT like that at all. He/she blew a fucking gasket. So I'm on the phone for over an hour screaming at these people to give us the watch back. Don't care if its in pieces, just give us the fucking thing, it's out property, etc. No dice, these people were not giving it up.
So my boss says "drive down there and do not leave until you have my watch". So I drive down to this place and have an hours-long shouting match with the jewelry people. I try everything. Lie about who my boss is. Tell them we'll sue. Tell them I'll get fired if I don't get the watch back. Etc, etc.
They close up at 5:30 or whatever, and I follow these poor people to their cars, asking where they live, can I come to their house and get the watch later? Eventually they crack, give me the parts, and tell me to leave before they call the police.
Needless to say, my boss was thrilled. "You produced this situation brilliantly", I was told.
There are countless other equally insane situations I can think of, but this one comes to mind right now.
Where do these producers look when trying to find new projects? Is there some way submitting and getting a short film noticed at a festival can get some producers interested for a meeting regarding a feature?
is there much talking behind the back? i mean, in Hollywood it seems like you have to be good to anyone because you don't know with whom you would work next or who would useful for you in the future, but i doubt that people not gossiping or so?
I've heard Bruce Willis is a fucking primadonna who tries to take over every production he's involved in.
But I've also heard Adam Sandler is like the coolest cat ever. Buys presents for assistants, shoots the shit with you, whatever. Go figure.
Not really, I'm 5'9". Fit but not built at all. Honestly I'm so god damn busy all the time that it's super hard to balance exercising with everything else. I know assistants and execs who are just machines who do it effortlessly, but that's not me.
>Sorry, but it's just too risky.
oh yeah I believe you
is your ass still bleeding
Throw someone under a bus bad. Everyone who is not relevant to our projects or the studios is completely irrelevant. They exist to serve my boss, and if they get in the way we just get rid of them and move on to somebody else.
We produce big studio films and mainstream television series. They are well-received, but not as well-received as we'd like. It's all about hitting the awards hard for the prestige, because it generates new audiences. Winning an Oscar is like getting a second opening.
Sure, but most production companies with studio term deals (like mine) don't accept unsolicited material unless it's as a favor to someone my boss knows. And even then, it's almost always shit.
Dude everybody talks shit about everyone ALL. THE. TIME. And the higher up you are, the more shit you talk. At the top, it's all smiles up front and callous slandering behind your back. At least, that's what I've observed from my boss and the people he/she associates with.
We're focusing a lot on television these days because my boss feels that's where the best stories are being told, and that people who are more interested in producing something artistic and less interested in making bank are in charge. As for specific genres, I'm hesitant to say, but we like stories that are true to life in some way. Authentic, you know? Fantasy and the like are out.
I read submitted scrips almost every day. I have covered well over 200 scripts over the past year, and am rather extensively involved in giving notes on our projects in development.
On that note, feel free to ask me script questions as well. I know a lot about what works, what doesn't, etc.
Sure, but baby writers usually have some kind of connection to us at least tangentially. Like oh hey, this guy who used to intern for us has this friend wrote this KILLER spec, do we want to read it? Sure, let's read it! And sometimes (not often, but sometimes), those baby writers really do go from zero to hero, because my boss will like it so much it'll get sent to some agent we have a relationship with. It gets passed around CAA or Paradigm or wherever, and it blasts off.
No, but they're hard to get financed and usually pop up from indie companies which are later scooped up by one of the studios. You generally need to package them with huge stars in order to ensure some sort of audience draw (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, etc).
No, we don't give a shit about those types of comments. But the press and trades are important to us, and we watch them like hawks. But we never ever make changes or decisions based on popular criticism.
Well it depends on what context you're asking this in. A good script is a good script, period. But for us internally, we are obligated to read the shittiest shit if it's sent to us by agents who we have relationships with and want to maintain. Like if that guy at CAA you have a great relationship with sends you a script and it sucks ass, you're not going to say it sucked. You're going to say something like "I didn't connect with the writing, but thanks so much for sending it our way!"
For the record, this is one of my responsibilities. Writing letters to agents re material we get in my boss' name. As in, I will pretend I'm my boss, write the response, and send it. This might sound crazy, but everybody knows this is just how it works. So there are all these back-and-forth emails between A-listers re scripts they're reading and sharing, but they're actually just all written by assists or execs to other assists or execs. So it's like this weird masquerade party we're all participating in every day.
How did you get the job?
Apply for an assistant position or worked your way up from the mail room?
How good is the pay?
How much of a private life do you still have?
What is your goal, to become a top producer as well at some point?
I hesitate to talk about specific anecdotes, but I will say that Pascal is beyond fucked. The fact that she took the production deal with Sony proves to everyone she has no alternatives. It's a sign of weakness. She's untouchable now, and not in a good way.
I got the job through an internship, which itself I got through utter random chance. A friend of mine put me on a bunch of mailing lists (there are tons of these), and I got the internship that way. I worked as an intern for a year (illegally, as I have graduated from college -- despite what the studios claim, interns working illegally for no pay or credit it totally rampant everywhere) and stepped up when the opportunity came.
The pay is bullshit. Slightly above minimum wage. Absurd considering I work at minimum 50 hours a week MINIMUM, not counting all the shit I do on the weekend unofficially. This shit is NOT for the faint of heart.
I have absolutely no private life that is unrelated to my job. When you sign up, your private and business lives become one and the same. It's not a job, it's a lifestyle.
Yeah I want to be a producer some day, but it's a hell of a climb.
Thanks for the reply, this is interesting.
Would you compare yourself to Loyd on Entourage (only that he works for an agency)?
Best of luck, I'll hope you'll become a big shot some day hopefully soon m8.
Did you ever have a famous gf?
Everyone's different and has their own views and opinions. It's hard to describe, but things like art and profit become blended together into a big mess of prestige or whatever. For my part, I love movies and TV. But I also love money.
It really depends on the show. The best way is to politically maneuver A-listers to become personally invested in a project in some way. Like, if you feel a project will personally attract or speak to a specific star, you can send out the feelers through whoever represents them and see what happens. Obviously this is not something I do, but I have witnessed it secondhand to some extent because I'm on top of everything my boss says and does all the time.
Yeah Lloyd is actually a pretty accurate representation of what it can be like. I've never worked at an agency, but as crazy as my job can be, I've heard the agencies are WAY worse. Like, literally the worst job on the planet.
I've never had a famous gf, but my friend flirted with Mila Kunis (at least according to him).
Her downfall is as serious as the trades have made it out to be. In fact, I conjecture that it's actually WORSE than they've let on. Again, the fact that she took the producer deal with Sony is a sign she's backed into a dark corner from which she'll probably never escape.
Thing is, her behavior is not unusual as far as A-listers and studio execs go. Like there was this big public shock, outcry, whatever over her emails. Like oh my God, what a terrible woman she must be! But I'm going to be totally honest with you: they are all like this. Every single one. They talk like this all the time and it's no big deal, just another day at the office. This leads back into the shit talking I was talking about earlier.
To TBH Pascal is no less guilty of any of these things than anyone else. She was just unfortunate enough to have it shown to the rest of the world.
So what happens is my boss will try to pair the writer with an agent we have a relationship with. And then that agent will work to get the script and other samples into as many hands as possible for writing deals or production deals or whatever. The writer doesn't get fucked because the agent doesn't get paid until the writer signs a deal and gets paid as well. The goal is for everybody to win.
People get fucked out of deals all the time, but it isn't anything underhanded. More often it's because someone is a primadonna or a nutcase or whatever and loses his or her shit over something somebody says or does, and they make a big show of backing out. This happens CONSTANTLY, and my boss has done this numerous times.
You'll have to be more specific. Incompetent as in sending emails to friends talking about how stupid Angelina Jolie is or whatever? That shit's totally normal and happens all the time.
Incompetent in the way that she couldn't see the prestige of listening to Rudin and securing the Jobs deal with Fincher instead of stalling and considering getting Fincher to direct Cleopatra just to satisfy Jolie. I can see why there'd be more money in a Cleopatra film but come the fuck on
Well I can't speak to the specifics of a contested studio executive deal because to be honest it's beyond my expertise as the assistant to a term-deal producer. But here's the thing: execs disagree all the time, and they all have relationships to satisfy, just like we do. As I mentioned, our personal and professional lives are all the same, which means our priorities become intertwined. Ultimately, maintaining a personal relationship with someone powerful or useful can be more important TO YOU than another overall studio deal. And for studio execs like Pascal, relationships with A-listers usually mean $$$ down the line.
Going to grab lunch, probably Thai. Will be back for more answers!
ITT, a naive 23 year old who works for a producer with a waning career, who will lose his term deal unless he comes up with a giant hit, forcing OP to move back home to his parents house in Ohio within 18 months.
By the way Amy Pascal is not "beyond fucked". She's producing the next however many Spider-Man movies for Sony and she has first choice to glom on to any other prime projects Sony is making. Please study the business more
I'm kidding OP. I remember my assistant days and they sucked work-wise but were great socially.
Haha, you're alright you know? I was pretty naieve when I got into this, didn't really know what I was getting into TBH. Most people I know wanted to do this their whole lives, but I sort of just got into it by accident.
I disagree with you re Pascal. Studio execs who are forced out are always offered these producer deals, but by taking them, they broadcast a message they have no recourse, no allies at other studios, agencies, whatever who are willing to stick their necks out for them. It's like telling the owner of Wal-Mart to manage a store from now on. Doesn't matter how many tentpoles she puts up, she ain't an exec anymore and she never will be again. It's a huge blow to her prestige and reputation and she will never get that back.
Where'd you assist? No specifics but agency, production, etc?
Me too. Does your car smell like rancid Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Thai food?
Who are the nicest and douchiest celebrities you've met?
Do you work in Hollywood or Burbank?
How about this weather?
I actually just cleaned out my car the other day. It mostly just smells like my boss TBH because I have all these fucking bags, boxes and shit leftover from runs and they all smell like him/her.
Nicest guy I've met was Adam Sandler. He was just fucking around with me but he was really funny and nice.
Won't say where I work because studios are endemic to regions, but I live in midtown.
Weather is gorgeous but a little hot for my tastes. Didn't grow up here and still not used to superhot, you know?
You get mileage, I hope?
I've met Adam Sandler and his wife too. Not work related, at a cafe, and he was super nice. I kept giving him outs of the conversation and he kept it going.
I'm a PM who does mostly commercials, but PAed for years so I know a bit of what you go through. If you ever meet a PM or (hopefully) producer someday named Topher, we'll have a lot to talk about.
How long did you have to work as a PA before you became a PM? Was it just hard work or did you have to make that step and be like "listen I'm not gonna keep doing this shit" cause I've PA'd enough for it to feel pointless
>he works at least 50 hours per week plus weekends
>he has no life outside his job
>he handles his bosses personal errands that involve shouting matches
>he does it for slightly above minimum wage
Yeah I get mileage, though I'm worried those who aren't at studios may not get the same luxury.
Good for you man. I'll keep an ear to the ground for that name, and we'll shoot the shit.
You know I've asked myself the same question. Truth is, I don't know what else I WOULD do. I have an English degree from a mostly unknown university, so I honestly don't know what else I'd do with my life.
I guess for me it's being around all this insane shit, getting stories to tell. You really can't make this shit up. And I guess the possibility of one day sending someone ELSE to do my personal bullshit. And when he comes back sweating, mussed up, like he's had the worst experience of his life, I can give him a smile and tell him he's done a great job, and that once upon a time I was in his shoes.
>I guess for me it's being around all this insane shit, getting stories to tell.
You know you can just read about that kind of shit on TMZ or something and save yourself the hassle unless you are some kind of egomaniac who just has to be able to say they were actually there to witness something.
>justin bieber stuck his penis in something again
>black person arrested
>black person arrested
>nasty high profile divorce
>actress shows genitals
>actress shows breasts
>black person arrested
>black person arrested
>black person arrested
>black person arrested
I wrote a science fiction spec recently, adapted from a book that luckily got accepted for publishing.
Now originally I wrote the screenplay at 150 pages, and feedback from readers told me that it shouldn't go over around 120 pages, or else my script will be thrown in the trash.
Another reader said that it shouldn't even be 120, it should be 110, because if a studio is interested in my screenplay, and it's 125 pages, that they will pay me the WGA minimum, and hire one of their writers to take it, and cut it down to 110 (because that's how it's done now), and they'll get all the credit and I'd be out of the loop (I'd only get "Story By" credit).
So, I've cut it down to 110 pages, and I've submitted the screenplay to contests. The thing is, I'm told while the story is good and it's high concept and an original and unique world (it has similarities to The Matrix series), that the characters aren't developed, and thus it is rejected.
For a story as "grand scale" as mine, I feel to properly tell it, with enough depth for my main characters, I would require 125-135 pages -- but the problem is, I'm told as a newbie writer, that I cannot do that, for the above reasons.
What is your advice? Is there a rare chance that they would buy the script at 130 pages and keep me on as a writer? Or should I wait until the book is published and it becomes successful, and then Hollywood comes to me for the film adaption? (One reader told me that this is often the case).
Or should I just keep sending out this current draft? I've been told it's high concept and has a good story, but again, the characters aren't as developed (then again, my movie is plot-driven).
Thanks very much for your advice.
Hey OP how much are you on-set? As someone whos working as a PA at any given opportunity i'd like to know what to keep an eye out for when trying to move up. PA work is shit but I doubt busting my ass nonstop for months is gonna eventually convince someone to say "hey you do this job instead"
No, I don't trust our principal in the slightest. And he/she has fucked me over or left me out to dry enough times for me to know trust isn't warranted. I'm purely an asset in the office and a vanity for his/her friends because I'm smart and efficient ("oh look how much better my guy is than your guy!")
I don't know if it's like this for everyone, but my relationship with my boss is like being in an abusive relationship with a politician or something. Like I know he/she doesn't really care about me at all, but I DO know he/she can and will give me leverage to move on up when the time is right (because he/she has done it for me before). But no question, he/she would fuck me over to save their ass in a heartbeat.
Think Anakin and Palpatine, but in real life. That's literally what it's like.
I've never been on-set for work. I've only been on-set tangentially because I have friends who PA and shit like that. But my job is basically part do-it-all office guy, part creative guy, and part small-time enforcer.
I PAed for a couple years, did locations for about a year (ass't > mgr) then got back in production and office PAed for maybe a year, coordinated for a couple years and then started PMing. Yes, part of moving up is not taking PA work any more, but more importantly, it's finding people who will hire you in your new position.
The PM I was office PAing for trained me and made me his coord after bugging him for a while, but jumping to PM I took any little gig friends passed on to me for the experience.
What do you want to do? Have you made friends with keys in that department who can show you the ropes and hire you? I've found that most guys are happy to pass along their knowledge to someone who is genuinely interested.
And I have several friends who PAed for over ten years, all of whom have moved up, except that one career PA who is working I believe on year 17...
Okay, so you should publish the book, and then your agent should be querying everyone he can, sending that shit out to every company he can get his hands on. If he's not sending that shit day in and day out, get a new agent. Eventually, if it's good material, someone will tell your agent they want to meet you.
Sending my manuscript or sending in the screenplay adaption? If it's the adaption, would 130 pages be acceptable (to tell the story properly, in my opinion)? Or should I cut it down to the typical 120 pgs length?
The manuscript. We can work with you to develop a script if it's a go.
Honestly, don't worry about shit like page-count, etc. All that convention stuff is just bullshit. All that matters is: is it good? Do I like this? Does it make me feel something? Will I never forget reading this? We've developed stories based on like 900-page manuscripts and stories based on fucking picture books for children. Don't worry about that shit -- just put yourself on that piece of fucking paper. So when I read it I run to our President of Production and say "holy shit, drop stuff, read this, it's over the moon good".
I want to direct but I feel that reaching that is done more outside of PAing and just doing shit on your own time and self-marketing your own work and self. However I have to support myself and feel like if I can become a gaffer and eventually a unionized cinematographer then I can support myself and make a Wally Pfister type of career shift. Obviously directings my preferred calling but DPing has always been second and something I study closely. Unfortunately since I'm finishing college I've PA'd sparingly but I'm often not called back because it's mostly been commercials work. I interned at Silvercup and introduced myself and attempted to network but only 3 gigs have come out of that
Can you get me a job?
I'm pretty well qualified, having been an assistant to a politician in Brussels and Ivy League deans.
Also smart and hungry to break into film.
If not, any recommendations on how to get in?
Okay thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it a lot.
I was just told by a Page Awards reader, that scripts today need to be 120 pages at most, (over that, it's a "phonebook") more likely 110, since that's what Hollywood wants today, and no Hollywood agent is going to sign up a screenwriter who writes something 130 pages.
Looks like I'll talk to my Literary agent and he'll send out the manuscript. I agree with you that page count shouldn't matter, the story should be as long as it needs to be to tell it properly.
I do seem to have a problem though, I can come up with high concept plot-driven stories/movies and good ideas, and the stories are fortunately good, but my characters do sort of lack development -- it's something I've noticed recently. Does this really impact my chances of success in general as a writer?
PMbro here. When I was new, I worked with a lot of assholes and thought "that"s show biz." Luckily, I was wrong and found people who didn't shit on people under them. Hopefully that happens to you soon.
Unfortunately, part of an assistant's job is to sometimes take bullets for their boss. But it sounds like your boss hasn't learned to cultivate loyalty through respect, alas. At least they have/will boost you up, so you probably have it better than many...
Have you seen Swimming with Sharks?
Haha, sorry, the only person who can break you into this madhouse is you.
Despite what you may believe, you are not qualified. You are not qualified until you've been here and actually done this. That's why it's hard to break in. The only qualification you need is a hunger for knowledge, a desire to learn everything you can, and a willingness to do whatever it takes.
Everyone gets in differently, but I broke in through interning. But even then it took a year of hard work for no pay and living terribly until I finally saw the opportunity and seized it.
Absolutely. Characters are maybe the MOST important thing to nail. You can create the most elaborate mythology I've ever read. But if I don't care about your characters, I'm going to put it down. I need to get into your characters' heads, real feel their complex emotions and scope their conflicts and motivations. And their relationships. Your world supports your characters, not the other way around. If I wanted a weird complex imaginary world, I'd ask a toddler -- little kids come up with complex fantasies all the time. But they can't do character because they lack life experience and human interaction.
I think one of the biggest things baby writers need to understand is just how insanely good you have to be to get somebody to notice. Your characters have to be ON POINT. Unforgettable, you know?
Yeah, you are correct about directing. I've only known a handful of DPs and ADs who made the jump, and I'd bet it's the relationships they cultivated rather than their work experience that helped the most. That, and their reel built on favors and credit cards.
If you're only avail part time due to school, don't expect steady work. If I call someone and they're not avail more than a couple times, I lose their number. Way too many eager people out there.
Counter-intuitively, make friends with other busy PAs. One busy PA can get you way more work through referrals "I'm booked, but I got a great guy..." than a PM can. Obviously, get in with as many PMs as you can, too...
No, my boss uses fear to generate efficiency. One time he/she said to me (and this is almost verbatim):
"It's all about getting the results you want. Coercion, manipulation, intimidation, whatever it takes to get results. You do those things, and you put a script in your mouth, and that's what a producer is."
Like I said, I literally cannot make this shit up.
PMbro again. Honest answer: I'm not sure too many people get in to the business with the goal of producing. I sure didn't. It's so much more attractive to be a creative, but it's also much more difficult and less linear. I kind of fell in to it, and followed the path of least resistance. It just so happens that I love what I do and I think I'm good at it, so that's a bonus.
If someone came to me and asked me to direct something, I'd do it in heartbeat. Let's be real.
This is because you don't seem to really understand what a producer is. Production is intensely creative, and it involves both artistic and technical understanding and expertise. But more than anything, being a producer is about having a vision, being a big picture thinker. Artists and technicians work FOR the producer to see that vision through.
Why be a producer? Because I want to be the one with the fucking vision some day.
Man, I don't know if I'd be able to live with myself doing that. On the other hand, I do OK being an honest, ethical PM, but I'm hardly rich. Maybe I'd sleep better if it was in a big house on Mulholland with a great view...
Dude, I'm not defending the reality of the studio system. But I do acknowledge it, because I live it every day (well, not this weekend, thank god for Presidents' Day). And let me tell you, any big producer (my boss included) will take the artists and the techs and will not think twice about grinding them to dust, harvesting their work, and slapping their own name right at the top.
>I don't know what else I WOULD do.
Shelf stacker at random walmart at random flyover state
But you secretly like the interest you gather when you say the job you do, aint that right?
Oh, I believe you, this is why the american film industry has been on a decline since the 70s (in term of quality ; i'm not the one having to worry about the bank, as a cinephile financial viability ain't shit to me).
Of course! But honestly, everyone I know personally is involved in the same business and it's what we relate through. It's not like I go around swaggering and saying "I'm an underpaid executive assistant!" Because most people I know are also underpaid assistants or some other such thing.