Archive for the ‘Working in the Biz’ Category

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Life aboard

January 6, 2009

MONDAY
5 January 2009

Not too much excitement today.  I had coffee with a friend, and was excited to start making contact with all the industry people who have been busy since the holidays.  “Call me in the new year!  Call me after the 1st.  We’re hiring in January!”  So it’s finally  here, and that’s good news!

The end of my lease (April 1) is going to show up quickly, so I’ve started looking at apartments.  I need to carefully consider where my next move is going to be, so I want to be clear on what I can get and for how much.  I found one apartment in Marina del Rey that is actually a sailboat in the marina.  How sweet would that be?!  Living on the water in my own little S.S. Minnow.  Plus, it was cheaper than most of the rentals I’d found on Craigslist.

After work yesterday, I made my way there to look at it.  While I was waiting my turn for the boat owner/landlord to show me the boat, I realized how incredibly quiet it was.  Wow.  I’ve been nowhere in LA that was this quiet, not even in the ‘burbs in the Valley.  It was noticeable.  Cool.  Water AND quiet.  Mind you, with all of this, I still have no clue how I would pay for this rental at this time, but anyway…

It was finally my turn and the owner and I chatted while we walked there.  He is a musician in town and he writes/performs music that promotes environmental awareness.  OK, so he’s kindof a hippee like me.  That’s cool.  He’s an Italian guy (I think), so he has an accent that is delightful. During the showing, we talked about art and life and the Universe and creativity, so that was interesting.  I can talk about that stuff endlessly with those willing to listen.  He was an intriguing fellow.  He meditates a lot, and he wants to make sure he rents the space to someone who will use the solitude and quiet of the marina to find peace in their own world, so that their calm energy will then emanate into the world.  I can appreciate that.  As for the boat…

Now, I’m not opposed to a small living space.  Even in my room now with the limited stuff I brought with me from Minneapolis, it is astounding the mess I can create.  For me, more space equates to more mess.  (Hmm, maybe I should rewrite that story.)  However, the boat was just a little TOO cozy.  With a dog in the picture – which there will be – we’d be stepping on each other all the time.  Actually, the boat – while charming – was the human equivalent of a dog crate, only I wouldn’t have enough room to stand up or turn around.  I don’t think it’d be easy living an environment where you can’t stand fully upright without bonking your head.

Going with the dog crate analogy, this was also not a place in which I could go to the bathroom, since there wasn’t a working toilet onboard.  Ouch.  I can deal with having to go to the marina to shower, but when I’ve got to pee at 4 in the morning?  Um, no.  Or got forbid I eat some bad seafood or something.  Eeew.  I don’t even want to think about it.  Would I have to buy a bedpan for these circumstances?  Pee in a jug?  Yeah, this really wasn’t the life I was envisioning for myself.

I enjoyed the chat with the landlord, though, and figured he must have a website where I could hear some of his music.  I asked for a card, but he didn’t have one.  [Sidebar:  I am amazed at the number of people in Los Angeles — the city of networking and connections — who do not have cards at the ready every second.  ONCE I’ve been ‘caught’ without my cards, and it was with a movie producer.  Lesson learned.]  Anyway, he said he’d send me some links since he still had my email.  I told him regardless of how the boat situation works out, he should keep in touch.  As artists, we need to support and help one another out, right?  He agreed, saying we should grab coffee, meditate together and possibly exchange energies.

Um, I’m sorry… what was that last thing again?  “We could exchange energies.”  OK.  Was that a come-on?  I wasn’t sure.  I stood there for a minute, thinking I must’ve looked like a deer caught in headlights, because this has never been proposed to me before.  Then I realized I was just standing there and there had been an awkward pause where no one had spoken.  I said something to end it, but what that was I can’t recall.

“Exchange energies.”  I am giving that to y’all as a freebie.  Try using it on your husbands, wives, significant others, boy/girlfriends, drunken nightclub hook-ups or online tricks and let me know how it works for you.  I’ll publish the results after extensive data has been returned to me.

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100 Accomplishments

January 4, 2009

SATURDAY
3 January 2009

A few years ago, I was reading one of the hippie/raw food eating/metaphysical philosophy books I own (and cherish, thanks very much), and the author touted the importance of making a list of 100 things you want to accomplish in the next year.  These aren’t resolutions, mind you.  This is another way of visualizing the life you’d like to lead for the next year.  Much like a vision board, I suppose.  A big, comprehensive list of the things you want to do, see, have, learn, experience, etc.

In the several years I’ve done this exercise, I’ve yet to come up with 100 things.  Can you believe that??  I’m even including things like, “I replaced all of my tattered underwear!” and “Purchased a fancy watch!”  I came up with everything my brain can imagine that I really want right now.  Special thanks to my sister for posting a similar list on her blog from which I ‘borrowed’ several fantastic suggestions.

One of the challenges is that the accomplishments have to be measurable.  Nothing vague like, “I will be in the best shape of my life.”  However, “I gained 15 pounds of muscle” works, as does “I returned to tai chi play three times per week.”  Sometimes, I admit, I’m not 100% successful with this.  I know I’ll keep revamping and revising until it’s compliant with this rule, though.

The list is all over the place – career stuff, personal stuff, travel items, material things.  Writing the list makes you think BIG about everything you want in your life, and not stopping until you reach 100 really forces you to expand your mind.  Here’s my list as it stands right now:

1.  New apartment that is quiet, peaceful, near the beach and where I can have a pup
2.  New bicycle
3.  New car
4.  One screenplay optioned (minimum)
5.  Ran a marathon
6.  Added 15 pounds of muscle
7.  Wrote two new screenplays (minimum)
8.  Became financially independent – my investments earn enough to pay my expenses
9.  Earned $1000 worth of writing income per week (business, creative, technical, articles, etc.)
10.  Up and running with my iPhone
11.  LA365 blog receives 50,000 hits per day
12.  Arctic Dog Films website is up and running
13.  Learned to surf! (and own all the accoutrements)
14.  Met and am sharing life with my next great love
15.  Enjoying my new MacbookPro w/Final Cut and ACS4
16.  Studied & developed my intuitive abilities and put them to use (reading people)
17.  Learned to speak French
18.  Learned to speak Spanish
19.  Went for an extended trip to Paris (and explored Europe, too)
20.  Bought a new guitar
21.  Took guitar lessons and relearned to play
22.  Wrote a song on my guitar
23.  Produced and starred in my own cabaret show
24.  Directed and produced ILLUME
25.  Completely simplified and organized every aspect of my life (a la “Coach Yourself…”)
26.  Went on a ski trip to the Rockies
27.  Trip to NYC
28.  Secured production deals with two companies (one is a major studio)
29.  Started voice lessons again
30.  Relearned TaiChi grand long form
31.  Began regular yoga practice
32.  Took an RSVP, Atlantis or Zoom Vacation
33.  Had a sitting with a professional photographer
34.  Gave $15,000 to charity
35.  Volunteered at least 10 hours per month
36.  Enjoyed monthly spa days
37.  Swam with dolphins
38.  Went horseback riding
39.  Had lunch, dinner or drinks with Oprah Winfrey
40.  Returned to an 80% raw food eating plan
41.  New Vespa
42.  Saved 6 months worth of expenses as a reserve
43.  Paid off my credit cards
44.  Paid back monies owed to my family
45.  Current with my taxes & loved by the IRS
46.  Earned $1,000,000 income!!!
47.  Went on a yoga/meditation retreat
48.  Take an Alaskan cruise
49.  Landed an agent – both literary and directing
50.  Hired an assistant
51.  Hired a housekeeper
52.  Hired a personal, raw food chef
53.  Purchased a high-end watch
54.  Purchased a hi-def television set
55.  Raw foods and health supplements are delivered to my home
56.  Traveled to the Grand Canyon
57.  Traveled to Australia
58.  Developed a photography hobby
59.  Enjoying a sleek, new NIKON D60 digital camera for aforementioned hobby
60.  Finished a triathlon
61.  Revamped my wardrobe/style/image & am able to cultivate it authentically
62.  Wrote & produced fun webisode series about dating
63.  Bought a piano and took piano lessons
64.  Acted in a small role in a film
65.  Performed in a play or musical here in LA
66.  Had coffee, lunch or drinks with Meryl Streep
67.  Had a successful pitch meeting at Focus Features which resulted in an option
68.  Talked with Steven Spielberg at an industry event
69.  Attended a swanky Oscar after-party!
70.  Wrote a novel
71.  Unloaded my Minneapolis condo
72.  Rescued at least two dogs
73.  Attended a Hicks/Abraham seminar
74.  Dinner with Jerry & Esther Hicks
75.  New collection of fancy-schmancy underwear
76.  New running shoes
77.  New running shoe heel inserts
78.  Sweet new rollerblades
79.  Attached a name actor to ILLUME (minimum)
80.  Was mentored by and established relationships with multiple entertainment industry pros
81.  Purchased a brand new professional-grade video camera for vlogging & webisode work
82.  Took golf lessons
83.  Bought golf clubs and golf accoutrements
84.  New backpack/satchel thing for hauling around all m’stuff
85.  Became a certified Life Coach
86.  Slept under the stars
87.  Went to Disneyland
88.  Planted a garden and grew my own vegetables
89.  Went skinny dipping
90.  Kissed that someone special in the rain (see #14)
91.  Went for a moonlit walk along the beach
92.  Went to a drive-in movie (double-feature would be awesome!)
93.  Joined a book club
94.  Visited every major film studio lot in Los Angeles
95.  Took a Hawaiian vacation
96.  Watched the northern lights
97.  Have a new home stereo system
98.  Bought some sweet BOSE noise-reduction headphones
99.  Read every script nominated for “Best Original Screenplay” within the past 10 years
100.  Watched every “Best Picture” Oscar winner for the past 30 years

Give this exercise a try.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds!

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Day 79: One day before

October 30, 2008

FRIDAY
24 October 2008

Today I spent the day finishing up the work I needed to get through for my marketing/networking/strategy seminar that starts tomorrow called Flash Forward.  We were given our first assignment a few weeks ago to be completed before the first class.  Thankfully, this information has been swirling around in my head for so long, the answers came quickly.  I knew what I wanted to get out of the course, who I wanted to pursue as mentors and DEFINITELY that I needed the kick in the pants this course would provide without allowing me to make lame excuses.  In fact, the accountability factor was one of the most appealing the things to me about the class.

As the day progressed, I kept thinking, “I need to go shopping for some foamcore,” because one of the assignments was creating a large Map of Relationships, which is essentially everyone we know in the entertainment industry divided into categories, as well as the extent of our relationship to them – friends, acquaintences, colleagues, people we just met… that sort of thing.

Right as I was thinking it was about time to venture forth on a posterboard quest, Doug sent me a text message saying he’d just seen Leonardo DiCaprio trying on witches hats at the CVS on Santa Monica Boulevard.  DANG!  I never see anyone!  “You will,” he responded.  Then he offered to pick up the supplies I needed for the map bring me the supplies I needed.  How sweet is that?  He also brought some munchies, so we had a little something to eat out on the terrace before it was time for me to get back to work, and get some sleep.  The seminar is 8 hours a day Saturday and Sunday, so I don’t want to be sleepy…

I’ve been looking forward to this seminar for a month.  I am so excited for tomorrow!

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Day 76: Meanwhile, back at the manse…

October 24, 2008

TUESDAY
21 October 2008

Ed and I packed up his SUV this morning – got the bike in there and everything – and he drove me into West Hollywood to Darrell’s house. Aaah, it is lovely to be back at the manse, if only for a short time.

Darrell is having his kitchen counters replaced, so everything’s kinda spread out all over the place.  The silverware is in the pantry, the dishes are in the living room and the closest running water is in the bathroom sink in the hallway around the corner.  The small island in the kitchen is the only place to set dishes, keys or anything else.  It will make for some creative meal prep and clean-up, to be sure.

His new tenant Christoph has also moved into the studio apartment in the lowest level of the house.  This is the cool kind of dude Darrell is:  he essentially told Christoph he can do whatever he wants to the place, aside from any kind of major demolition.  At this point, I can hear Christoph hammering away on what sounds like major construction, and Darrell offered him the use of any unused paint in the garage.  Christoph is keeping the whole project under wraps until it’s complete.  Having seen the ‘before’ version of the apartment, even I’m curious to see what the transformation will look like.

I thought Darrell was leaving tonight for Fort Lauderdale, but he told me it’s actually tomorrow night.  I’m sure he told me the correct date and I just flip-flopped it in my own mind.  Grr.  With that, I felt bad I’d made plans to hang out with another friend tonight, kinda like, “Hey, thanks for the invite to stay here again for free.  I’m all moved in downstairs, so see you later!  Hugz!”  I’m not sure if Darrell had plans for the night or what, but had I not messed up the days in my mind, it would’ve been cool to hang out and catch up.  As I’ve said before, Darrell is very logical & left-brained, whereas I’m the right-brained “ooo, colors, shapes and esoteric things” type, so I like hearing his perspective on my job hunt and my other misadventures thus far.

Darrell was kind enough to drive me down the hill for a business meeting.  My Dreamworks Animation contact had put me in touch with a colleague of his who works at Activision.  I think went pretty well… he was as gracious and generous with his time and feedback as the majority of industry people I’ve met in LA have been.  We chatted a long time, and I was grateful he seemed genuinely interested in learning about why I was here, what I was trying to accomplish in LA and how he might be able to help me move forward.  I left the meeting totally charged, again feeling grateful that these are the types of industry people I am fortunate to keep meeting!

I had dinner with my friend Doug, and for dessert we visited Greenblatt’s Deli, which felt like it was plucked from New York City and dropped down right on Sunset Boulevard.  After a big ol’ piece of chocolate cake – yeah… that healthy food plan I was starting… what happened to that?  – it was time to head home for bed.  Busy day… moving, meeting, cake with enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma, etc… pretty tired at this point.  More tomorrow.

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Day 71: [insert lame blog entry title here]

October 17, 2008

THURSDAY
16 October 2008

My cousin is leaving for Greece tomorrow, so I spent part of the day helping her with a few things on the computer – tracking down some Greek language travel phrases she can use, finding out weight and size restrictions on the luggage she is checking, that sort of thang.  She is more-than-prepared to go, these were really just last minute thoughts.  She has to get up at 2:00am so Ed can drive her to the FlyAway.  From there she’ll get to LAX, fly to Atlanta where she’ll have a layover before she’s off to Greece.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Here’s a picture that was taken of me at the Networking Event on Tuesday.  If I wanted, I could make it into a fleece blanket, a tote bag or a set of 4 coasters, but I’m not sure the world is ready for that just yet.  For the record, I’m wearing Joseph Abboud (shirt), B.C. Ethic (black zip-up hoodie), Caroline Bertani (necklace) and Avery Labels (name tag).  Yes, I know y’all would be unable to sleep without this vital information.  I hope you can rest easy now…

I’m not a big fan of pictures of me, but this isn’t so bad.  My forehead is endless though, is it not?  It just keeps on going into infinity.  I suppose I could adjust the levels in Photoshop so the hair that’s left on my head isn’t blending with the background, but… eh.

Note the glint of light on my lips.  I swear I wasn’t wearing some lady-like Clinique lip gloss injected with glitter, gold flecks or sunshine.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the result of (a) Neutrogena Lip Moisturizer and (b) lip exfoliation via toothbrush.  Is my enjoyment of this daily ritual unnatural in some way?  That Neutrogena stuff is THE best lip balm thingie I’ve ever tried.  No waxy feel, no weird scent.  Just powerful de-chapping moisturizer AND it has sunblock.  There.  That mention alone should secure a lifetime supply, right?  Fingers crossed.

Feeling pretty low energy today, and there’s much to get through tomorrow.  Talk to you then.

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Day 70: Stepping out

October 17, 2008

WEDNESDAY
15 October 2008

Um… I just realized the title of my entry from yesterday, “Networking on the Boulevard” sounds a little shady, but please take my word that I haven’t reached the point of renting out my body parts just yet.   Before I get to that place, I’d likely pursue donating plasma or DNA first.  Believe it or not, a guy can make pretty good money donating his junk – $15,000 a year if you sign up to make a deposit 3-4 times a week for a year.  Dang!  That’s LA pricing, though.  In smaller markets, it’s probably only $8-10K.  I’ve had part-time jobs with much less appealing job responsibilities, believe me.  Of course those jobs didn’t come with the nagging question of whether or not I’ve sired a random gaggle of tots.

I spent a good chunk of the day at my current fave NoHo hangout, Panera Bread.  What can I say?  It’s bright, it’s roomy, it’s familiar, the people watching is entertaining without being totally distracting, and I can get 18 cups of coffee for the price of 1.  I gotta stretch my pennies as far as I can, know what I’m saying?

During my stay at Panera today, I observed one woman holding court at a corner table.  People were coming and going to her table… she’d have meetings with one or two or three of them.  Some would leave, more would arrive.  She’d be on her computer, she’d take a phone call.  It was intriguing.  It didn’t take terribly astute observation to discern she was producing a film and these were potential production team members.  It went on a while.  I was getting ready to leave and she was finally by herself.  She wasn’t watching her computer, she wasn’t on the phone, she wasn’t with someone… so I thought, “Why the heck not just go talk to her?”  I felt some apprehension because she was finally taking a moment to enjoy her food, and here I was about to encroach on her meal time.  Still, I decided this would be my bold move for the day.  If I were rebuffed, so be it.  It’s important for me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone.

For all intents and purposes, I walked up to her table, introduced myself and asked, “Are you producing a movie?”  Once she determined I wasn’t a complete loon, she asked me to sit down and we had an impromptu interview of sorts.  It was fun!  I told her I just moved here in August and she said, “Aaah, that’s why you’re still nice.”  Hmmm.  Her movie shoots in a month and she needs more help securing some of the in-kind donations for the production – airline tickets, catering, lodging for out-of-town actors… that sort of thing.  She said what she had to offer at this point in the production was an “Associate Producer” credit.  I told her I’d help in any way I could, so we exchanged cards and here’s hoping I hear from her.  We shall see!  I was pretty dang pleased with myself that I took the step and talked to her for a few.  I got a sense that made somewhat of an impression on her.

Afterwards I went into WeHo to meet Darrell for mail.  My California driver’s license came and it is darling, if I may say so myself.  The picture is pretty good!  I expect my voter registration and election packet will be arriving soon, too.  Darrell didn’t stay long because he had some more work to do at home.  We discussed the likelihood of me staying at Chez Darrell because he’s heading to his condo in Fort Lauderdale for two weeks.  He’s having his kitchen redone at the moment, so I’m not sure it’s completely functional or not, not that that’s a deal breaker.  Even if the hill takes me a half-hour to walk up with the bike (b/c downhill is a breeze, right?), it’s still only about one-sixth of the round-trip commuting time between WeHo and West Hills.  If it works out, I’ll be at his place for two weeks, then two weeks at Gary’s, which takes me to November 21.  After then… we’ll see.  I’ve started putting out the word that I’d love to find a room somewhere.  OR what would be really ideal is finding another house-sitting job, maybe one that’s a bit longer term… 3, 4, 5, 6 months.  Ya never know!  I should research that this weekend…

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Day 69: Networking on the Boulevard

October 15, 2008

TUESDAY
14 October 2008

Today was this big entertainment industry networking event I had signed up to attend. I learned of it from the MinneAngeles bowling night coordinator!  See?  No coincidences.   Had I not been bowling in recent weeks with this group, I wouldn’t have learned about it.

Of course, I was all stressalicious about what to wear.  The jeans and T-shirt attire simply wasn’t going to suffice for this event.  I don’t have a jacket with me in LA.  I’m not even sure I own one at all anymore, given the clothing purge I did in Minneapolis before moving.  Hmmm.  I called my fashion-minded ex to thoroughly describe the outfit to him for his stamp of approval.  Ultimately, I think I assembled an outfit that was comfortable, interesting and adequately representative of my style.  OK, I’m not really sure I have any, but whatever.  I decided to wear this stylin’ necklace my sister designed.  It’s one-of-a-kind and I loves it.  She designs jewelry primarily for women, but earlier this year I coaxed her into creating a few men’s items as a value-added shopping option for her female customers who might be seeking something unique for the men in their lives.  You can check out her girlier designs on her web site.

I tend to be shy in social settings where I don’t know anyone, and schmoozing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I’ll always fall into the Myers-Briggs’ introvert category, and I’m OK with that.  It doesn’t mean I’m unable to step out of my comfort zone once in a while.  That in mind, on my way into town, I focused on putting myself in the mindset of success… a little technique I gleaned from one Ms. Esther Hicks (of Hicks-Abraham notoriety).  Basically, I created a list of positive aspects about this event:  that it was perfectly acceptable to peddle my wares because that’s why the event was created, that I would meet people who could help me, and that I would also meet people to whom I could be of service.  Hmmm.  What else did I tell myself?  I think I also reminded myself I would do the best I could, that the Universe was conspiring in my favor, and most importantly, that I was having a good hair day.

The event was at this swanky club on Sunset called Boulevard 3.  Check out the gallery on their web page.  It was pretty dang sweet.  The venue comfortably holds 700 guests, and last time I checked the event reservation page, almost 1000 people had RSVP’d.  The odds were working my favor that I’d make some good connections, right?  So long as I didn’t end up careening into the fountain without my pants on or something…

I met plenty of writers, actors, producers, directors, choreographers, photographers, cinematographers, web gurus and many others with creative job descriptions.  Insofar as work opportunities, I was thrilled to finally be having conversations with people who are actual decision-makers!  Woo-hoo!  There were a lot of memorable moments for me, which would make for one unending blog entry, but here are a few fun highlights:

I met one filmmaker who took money she had borrowed for a root canal and used it to finance her short film.  “I’m in excruciating pain, but my movie is in the can!” she told me.  That’s dedication.  The strongest thing I had to offer her was a Claritin.

There was a magician who treated me and two others to some sleight of hand tricks.  He made me a part of one where he exchanged two coins, one of which was on the top of my hand, and the other which I was making a closed fist around.  It was fa-reaky.

I also met a bundle of energy named Anna, who isn’t working in the entertainment industry ‘proper,’ but wants to be in the future.  As I understood what she was telling me, she’s a global wealth manager and wants to be working with more entertainment industry professionals, as I understood it.  I said, “I have $10 right now.  What can you do turn that into?”

On my way out, I was chatting with a trio of women and found a name tag stuck to the bottom of my shoe.  It had a web address on it as well, and the three women I was talking to dared me to email him and tell him the story of how I got his information.  If I’m to believe there are no coincidences or accidents, how can I not email him?!  Is this a wink??

At the end of the night, I was totally charged.  I loved hearing all the different stories about how people have found (or are finding) their way in the industry.  There are limitless paths to success and creative fulfillment, and it’s always worthwhile to be reminded of that.  I don’t need to worry I’m not doing everything I can, or that I’m doing something wrong.  As long as I’m doing, I’m moving forward on the path that’s perfect for me.