Austin Entertainment Business meetup report for 7-19-18, Tunnel to Hollywood Part II

Who do you want to meet?

Who do you want to meet in the entertainment industry? Who do you need in order to make your vision a reality? If you need to find others, it’s time to get out there and attend the best meetup in town for industry professionals, the Austin Entertainment Business meetup.

What I love most about the AEB events is that I constantly meet new people who are involved in all parts of the entertainment industry. From producers to directors, directors of photography to post audio & sound, from experienced writers to veteran actors, you can really find your people here. As a composer, I find myself most inspired when I get the chance to hang out with other creatives and hear what they are working on. I've stated before that finding work in the entertainment industry is a worthy goal  that can only be achieved by taking relationships seriously. Ultimately, having good relationships with others makes me happiest. It’s more about the people, for me at least. Yes, I want cool projects and to pay my bills just like everyone else, but I prefer working with good people as opposed to negative ones. It takes collaborating with good people to make a good and happy career. Fortunately, I keep on meeting the exact types of persons I want to meet at these meetups! That, and I keep on getting incredible information as a result of the wonderful presenters that Jen Hutchins, our organizer, puts together. Last night’s meetup was no different.

Heather Hale

Our first presenter was Heather Hale. She is a film and television director, screenwriter and producer. She is also an expert at pitching ideas, which is what her presentation was all about. She gave an excellent overview of her expertise on the markets, how to pitch your script successfully, and how to get your stuff to the next level. There were many points that Heather covered in her presentation that I found it to be interesting. Now, I’m not a writer, but a lot of the things she said made a lot of sense. To echo what Terence Michael mentioned in the previous meetup, Heather agreed that how you approach potential producers is all about the first subject line of your initial email. Face it: Busy producers get at least 300 emails per day from people who are working to get their script in the right hands. To that end, what sets you apart? You have to make it special, eye-catching, and memorable. One of her big mistakes people make is that their pitches are extremely boring. She says the worst thing you can do is be boring! The second big takeaway that Heather drove home for me was that you need to have clarity about your script. You have to be clear about what it is, what genre, the characters, the scenes, everything. You can’t leave things unsaid. This even goes to the extreme of when you attach a script to an email, you have to name it correctly, like “My-Movie-Title_My-Name.” Even Jen Hutchins chimed in and said she hated it when people sent her scripts but she has to rename the file! These details are all what makes a script get read. This is the final takeaway: If you get an agreement to get the script read, you’ve done your job. You can’t expect people to throw you a ton of dough for a script unless they read it, right? Well, Heather was adamant that if you can get people to agree to read the script, then get out of the office as soon as possible. You’ve done your job. She specifically put it like this: “A good salesman knows when not to push.” I agree.

Barbara Daoust

Our second presenter was Barbara Daoust, a coach to many of Hollywood’s elite. This included the Elizabeth Olson, Shane West, Vanessa Hudgens, Aaron Paul, and she even mentioned working with members of the Spielberg family. I found that this presentation was a little more up my alley simply because it talked about the mindset of success. Barbara’s approach is simple when you look at it from a bird’s eye orientation: If you want to be a success, you have to think like those oscar winning successful people. Of course, the details are always a little more tricky. Barbara knows how to get people there. She saw that the people who had this mindset were constantly working on themselves, constantly tinkering and making themselves better at what they did, how they did it, and they also dealt with failure (which is radically different than most people). For example, if a person fails at something and it’s emotionally a big deal, it takes longer for them to come back from it and then reengage with the world. Barbara pointed out that many of these top successful people in Hollywood and elsewhere feel that failure is just part of the process. When a person has this sort of mindset, that failure is not a big deal, they accept that it’s going to happen, and that they will let go of it quicker. This feels like one of the biggest predictors of success. It’s not about pumping our egos up to never fail, it’s being humble enough to realize that we are human, we will fail, but it’s more about how we pick ourselves up. This is a lesson each and every one of us needs to keep in our minds. It reminds me a lot of what author Brene Brown talks about in her book Daring Greatly, which is all about being courageous enough to engage with the world even if it means you will fall down and fail hard. The people who accept failure as part of the process are quicker to get up from career disappointments. This is crucial, especially in the film industry where failing is inevitable!

Why this meetup is important

As I’ve mentioned many times before in my blog, this meetup is so valuable. It is important and vital to Austin, and we should all take good care to grow it. On a personal note, I have a lot of respect for Jen Hutchins as well as producers in general now that I’ve taken a little time to produce a short video for the AEB. This is what kept me occupied all last night! The amount of care a producer must have for the project, the amount of sweat it takes, is tremendous. I laughingly had a “We’re Not Worthy” moment at the end of the night where I came to realize exactly how hard Jen works. Producing is hard work, so mad props to all the producers out there who make great films happen. I salute you.

Keep in touch for an upcoming video for the Austin Entertainment Business. Also, keep in mind that there are many incredible resources that are already available for you that Jen has put together. The job board where Jen and other members share paid gigs in the industry is a great place to go: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustinEntertainmentBusiness/

Also, if you haven’t made it to the meetups in general, you need to come. I finally convinced my buddy Jeremy Rashad Brown to come, and he had a blast. He was looking for editors and producers, and he made tons of new contacts just last night. So the question becomes this: Who do you want to meet? You’ll do that here: https://www.meetup.com/AustinEntertainmentBusiness/