Coming Soon To A “Screen” Near You!

From Nickelodeons to Screening Room, how we watch what we watch has been and will be a key element of the cinematic experience.

I am withholding my opinion on these following stories until I hear from you, dear students and graduates, as it is YOUR tomorrow that will be most impacted by this “breakthrough” in film distribution and exhibition.

It is your “stories” that are going to be impacted by this technology.

Read, think, debate, and share.

Sean Parker stood in front of a whiteboard at Napster’s dingy offices in San Mateo, Calif., and mapped out a hoped-for future for the besieged music file-sharing service.

It was late at night, and amid the detritus of discarded pizza boxes, a group of Red Bull-guzzling employees had assembled to hear the Napster co-founder’s plan to begin paying fees to artists and record labels, recalls filmmaker Alex Winter, whose documentary “Downloaded” covers the rise and fall of Napster.

“This was an impassioned explanation of why Napster at its heart was not a ‘stealing business,'” Winter said of the 1999 meeting. “He made it clear that if they couldn’t do licensing deals with the labels, they’d have to close down.”

Continue reading Coming Soon To A “Screen” Near You!

Advice So Bad It’s Good…

As I have often said when offering “advice,” take it with a grain of salt.  

Heck, my wife, bless her heart, has a “do the opposite of what he says” policy that she finds works very well for her (and our marriage).

But seriously, we all get advice, solicited or not, almost everyday of our lives – especially in the age of social nakedness where all we do is up for an opinion to be shared, commented on, or ignored – which is a kind of advice.

Curious, I googled “best advice I ever got” – and as soon as I started to  poke around the top hits, shrugged, muttered aloud “they know this stuff” and googled “worst advice I ever got” and found this below article.

I am going to expect that you (and I) will never look at “bad advice” the same way again…

8 successful entrepreneurs share the worst advice they ever received (Business Insider 3/27/16)

by RICHARD FELONI

Bad advice is easy to ignore. But sometimes the worst advice can stick with you, as a reminder of what matters most to your personal and professional fulfillment.

Entrepreneurs by definition have to go against the grain, and so conventional, albeit terrible, advice can be used as a motivational tool.

We’ve collected the worst advice successful entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran ever received.

Here’s what it taught them.

1) “Shark Tank” star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is firmly against the idea of following your passion.  Cuban has said repeatedly that the worst advice he’s ever received or heard others receive is “Follow your passion.”

“What a bunch of BS,” he wrote in a blog post from 2012. Everyone has multiple passions, Cuban says, but those don’t lead to career success. What does, however, is finding something to work hard at.

By “following your effort” instead of your passion, you can develop a skill and learn to appreciate it. Your passion for growing tomatoes in your garden can remain a hobby. Continue reading Advice So Bad It’s Good…

So, you can be the new Coen Brothers…

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting Andric L. Queen-Booker, Class of 2012 – a wonderfully talented and smart young man – and he mentioned that he enjoyed the HBO series, Togetherness, and was a big fan of the Duplass brothers.  As am I.  And my wife.  This is a win-win as it means she enjoys watching a show I enjoying watching, and when you’re in your 4th decade together, and TV wasteland time is limited, that’s a HUGE deal.

When I asked Andric why he liked the brothers, and Togetherness, he said: “It’s real. Truthful.”

So it is.  HBO worth paying for.

Imagine my surprise when the LA Weekly (a paper like the New Times for all my AZ friends) published today – did a wonderful story on the Duplass brothers that is perfectly timed to share with you.

Read this.

I did, twice.  And their story has ME pumped to do more, my way, now.

Go out there and be the STORYTELLER (actor, producer, director, writer, executive, agent, human being) that you want to be!

How the Duplass Brothers Changed Hollywood by Refusing to Change at All

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016 AT 6:30 A.M.

by Gwynedd Stuart

It’s an irresistibly warm weekday in late January, and Jay and Mark Duplass are in their office at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood preparing to write the third season of their HBO series, Togetherness. I note the timing because it happens to be Sundance week, and they’re here rather than there (I note the weather because, goddamn, we’re lucky) — and it’s the rare year they don’t have a pony to show. Last year, Sean S. Baker’s iPhone-filmed, Hollywood-set dramedy Tangerine, which the Duplasses executive produced, was one of the festival’s most talked-about films. They also executive produced Melissa Rauch’s The Bronze, another 2015 Sundance selection.

And all of 11 years ago, their first full-length feature, the low-budget relationship drama–slash–road-trip comedy The Puffy Chair, was among the festival’s breakout hits, winning the Audience Choice Award and making their mutual inclusion in conversations about young filmmakers-to-watch almost instantaneous. They were among a handful of auteurs whose work was being lumped together to constitute what was called the “mumblecore” movement. Major record labels were fixating on all things indie rock, and major film studios were fixating on quiet, quirky dramas being made for $15,000 rather than $15 million.

After the 2005 fest, Mark and his now-wife, director-actress Katie Aselton, packed up and moved from New York to L.A.; Jay headed West that December. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s safe to say these were good decisions. Continue reading So, you can be the new Coen Brothers…

Don’t Hit Send On Your Script Unless…

…you have ALL your i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  What’s that?  Of course you will!  No one in their right mind would submit work that wasn’t ready to be shown to a buyer, agent, producer, actor, executive, or a highly competitive screenplay contest – right?
You’d be surprised how often this happens AND it has happened to me when I have been in a hurry to meet a deadline after I procrastinated one day too many and it was deliver or die day for my screenplay.
So, in the hope you avoid my mistakes, I give you:

7 Things to Do Before You Submit Your Screenplay to Anyone

By Ken Miyamoto

October 27, 2015

Whether it’s submitting it to competitions, production companies, agents, managers, studios, or talent, screenwriters need to go through a checklist to prepare their scripts for submission.

This is the first time the powers that be will be seeing your script. This is the first and only impression that you can make with them. If the script is not up to their standards and doesn’t adhere to the various submission directives that there may be on their end, you’ve lost them before you ever had them.

So here’s a To Do list for all screenwriters (otherwise known as a “Make Sure” List), offering habits to get into before submitting scripts. And we’ll toss in some tricks of the trade as well.

  1. Make sure you have permission to submit your script.

This is primarily for submitting to agents, managers, production companies, studios, and talent. You cannot send unsolicited material to these powers that be. Hollywood is so afraid of being sued these days. Because of that, they simply won’t and can’t accept screenplays, television scripts, and treatments. Most of the big agencies won’t even accept query letters or emails that showcase loglines or a short synopsis. So make sure you have permission to send a script in the first place. All too often, you’ll be asked to fill out a release form, releasing them from any litigation regarding concepts that may be similar to yours that they eventually produce. Continue reading Don’t Hit Send On Your Script Unless…

Adventures in VR Part 3

2020 Vision: Experts Predict the Future of Virtual Reality

jesse-schell-vision-3

The inaugural Unity Vision VR/AR Summit just wrapped up, where 1,400 Unity developers converged on Hollywood to learn from some of the legends of virtual reality. During the event, six of these VR veterans took the stage to share their predictions for the state of virtual reality in the year 2020.

1. VR will be the new internet.

This from Mike Capps, former President of Epic Games and current advisor for the Vision Summit. He earned a PHD in virtual reality before Keanu Reeves’ performance as Johnny Mnemonic ruined VR’s early chances of survival, creating unmanageable expectations, and breaking his tender heart.

Johnny Mnemonic VR

But now he’s back, arguing that VR is going away once again. But not the tech. Not the content. He argues that ‘virtual reality’ isn’t even the phrase we’ll use to describe the medium in 2020 because it will be so much bigger than that.

2. You will spend your flights in virtual reality.

Instead of passing out cheap ear buds, Capps believes that by 2020, airlines will provide virtual in-flight entertainment systems for all passengers.

Continue reading Adventures in VR Part 3

Adventures in VR Part 2

From the WSJ:

Virtual-Reality Movies: Get Ready for the VR Revolution

VR headsets, like the Oculus Rift, can immerse you in the action as never before. Here’s how the technology is changing Hollywood—and 7 must-see virtual-reality experiences to try now…

By

ERICH SCHWARTZEL

WHETHER YOU’RE AN avid cinephile or you haven’t been to a movie theater since enduring “Attack of the Clones,” one thing is certain: Over the next few years, virtual reality will completely reboot your relationship to the moving image. That’s because the once-geeks-only technology, known as VR for short, is becoming shockingly good at making you feel as though you’re in the midst of the action—cycling through the air with E.T. or spinning atop an alp with an excitable Fraulein Maria—rather than observing from afar.

We hear your objections: “There’s absolutely no way I’m going to wear one of those dorky-looking headsets. I won’t even be caught dead in 3-D glasses.” Even if you acknowledge that the motion-tracking technology VR systems employ is pretty cool, allowing users to look freely around a 360-degree environment, you’re perfectly content with real reality, thank you very much.

Behind the scenes, however, VR is rewriting the script for Hollywood. VR works are already popping up at prominent film festivals like Sundance and next month’s Tribeca Film Festival (where screenings take place in small rooms rather than large theaters). A-list directors such as Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg are working on top-secret VR projects. Even “Airplane!” director Jerry Zucker, not usually associated with the cutting edge, is developing an immersive comedy.

Viewing VR is starkly different than watching a traditional film: With conventional movies, the director dictates your focus of attention. An aerial view cuts to a medium shot cuts to a close up—giving you no say in what you see. But virtual reality puts you in charge. The headset allows you to observe any aspect of a setting and, in some cases, even affect the way the story unfolds depending on where you look.  Continue reading Adventures in VR Part 2

Adventures in VR Part 1

I have been waiting to find a good combination of stories on VR and the opportunities this new tech offers storytellers, and here are the best of the best online now.  Well worth your time to read and learn…

Goldman Sachs Has Four Charts Showing the Huge Potential in Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality started making fresh headlines in 2014, when Facebook made a $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR. Now Google Inc. has ramped up its “VR” game by focusing Clay Bavor, vice president of product management, solely on virtual reality.

As Wall Street tries to calculate the possible impact on a number of industries, Goldman Sachs Group has put forth some charts laying out its assumptions for what it believes will be an $80 billion market by 2025.

Here’s what caught our eye.

1. Slower adoption, big potential

The first chart looks at how the virtual reality and augmented reality business will fare when compared to the adoption process undergone with smartphones and tablets. Goldman believes it will take a while longer to see such adoption, but “as the technology advances, price points decline, and an entire new marketplace of applications (both business and consumer) hit the market, we believe VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multibillion-dollar industry, and possibly be as game changing as the advent of the PC,” the analysts noted.

Continue reading Adventures in VR Part 1

A Life Lived Well…

Having had the pleasure of meeting with so many of you, of focusing on and trying to help you gain entry into the career you have worked so hard to prepare for and are determined to achieve, I have been given a surprising gift by you – and that is to ask what’s really mattered in my life BEYOND “career.”

Actor?  Production Crew Member?  Producers Personal Assistant?  Writer?  Producer?   Executive Producer?  I have been all of these things, and have – like you – an ever evolving resume and bio that tells this tale.

But who am I other than my work history?  More to the point, what part of that journey is always left out by the studio or network publicists who post the requisite blurbs whenever I am fortune enough to get a movie made?  

 “…The father of two and a proud grandfather, Howard is married to Studio Executive, Disney Imagineer, and Film and Television Producer, Donna Burkons…”

Even though this reference’s Donna’s professional credits, my “people” find my marriage and children and grandkids too personal, off point, and thus inappropriate.  Heck, I even left this out in my “About” page for this blog.

But what I am, what matters most, is that Donna has blessedly been “with” me for 44 years and counting.  Our friends, extended family, and most of all our adult “kids” and now grandkids, are our life.  

So it came as a pleasant surprise that I stumbled on this TED talk to share with you this AM, one with a message I hope you will file away and take with you as you pursue and achieve all of your career “dreams and aspirations.”

What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness | Robert Waldinger | TED Talks

Published on Jan 25, 2016

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

SO BAD IT’S GOOD – TV’s Money Game

“Breaking Bad” is a series I suspect we all watched.  As such I found this article to be an excellent one offering a good hard look at the numbers, the hows, the whys and the wherefores of a TV Series, and how a “HIT” can change the lives of everyone, especially the network and studio, “lucky” enough to “own” it.

If you only read one thing I post on TV, this would be a top choice.

HB

The Economics of a Hit TV Show

Photo Credit:  Lewis Jacobs / AMC

Ten million Americans can recall where they were the night of September 29th, 2013. They were watching the series finale of Breaking Bad. And they were watching it on AMC, a cable channel that once cut its teeth airing reruns of black-and-white movies.

The suits at the network were prepared. Like Walter White, the show’s ruthlessly efficient meth dealer, they knew they had a quality product on their hands. And they charged their customers accordingly. AMC extended the runtime of the last two episodes from 44 to 54 minutes – 75 minutes apiece with commercials – and raised its advertising rates to as much as $400,000 per 30-second spot. The 21 minutes of commercial airtime in “Felina,” the show’s final episode, may have earned the network $7-8 million in advertising revenue.

But keeping Breaking Bad on the air was a big investment. Shooting the show cost about $3 million per episode in 2010, and $3.5 million per episode in its final season. The show’s last 16 episodes cost approximately $56 million to produce.

And finding a hit like Breaking Bad – or even finding a viable show to put on the air in the first place – often costs networks hundreds of millions of dollars each year in development costs and pricey, failed pilot projects.

Things could get even more expensive. Breaking Bad uberfan Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of Dreamworks, reportedly offered to pay $25 million per episode to produce three more episodes. That’s a total of $75 million, at an average of $568,000 per minuteof final air length. Continue reading SO BAD IT’S GOOD – TV’s Money Game

“No Money No Honey”

The above quote was first said to me by a Sushi Chef who had practically become a member of my family (after all, I was supporting him, his wife and kids with all the Omakase dinners I devoured), and it gets right to the heart of a point we talked about – that you have to make a living  in order to survive, and the more money the better the life you and your future loved ones will count on and enjoy.

This article is geared toward the business side of the industry, and provides a “tasty” snapshot of what you can make starting out in your first, post, non-struggling-assistant position on a desk at an agency or network or studio, and details income figures offering you plenty to incentives to work hard and harder if this career appeals to you as the rewards are ample and exciting.

Once again, this is from Producer Gavin Palone, and you are going to want to read past the big shot salaries and pay special attention to the “entry level” salaries of Rookie Development Executives and Baby Agents:

Polone: So How Much Do Hollywood Players Make?

By 

There are two topics in which we are all endlessly interested: sex and money. Specifically, how much of both other people are getting and from whom. While we get to hear quite a lot about these topics when it comes to celebrities, I’m far more interested in hearing about how much the more regular people with whom I regularly interact are getting — well, not so much the sex part, but certainly how much money they’re making. I don’t feel competitive with Adam Sandler, but there is certainly a part of me that wants to gauge myself against my peers, and while it is easy to gain some estimate of what Mr. Sandler makes in a year by doing a quick Google search, there isn’t much said about the earnings of the executives, attorneys, and agents whom I talk to all day long. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I did an unscientific survey of about ten top lawyers, agents, and executives who would have direct knowledge of compensation at their own firms, as well as many others. From these interviews, I was able to estimate compensation ranges for each job category. (I gave more weight to information that came from those who had more experience with specific deals: agents talking about what people are paid at their agency; lawyers explaining deals they’ve negotiated on behalf of studio executives, etc.) Here is my guide to Hollywood’s one percent: Except where noted, the following are “all-in” numbers, including salary, bonus, and stock awards. Continue reading “No Money No Honey”