During this long Memorial Day weekend as we are on the cusp of the summer movie fever, I started thinking about the some of the ideals of working in film. Here are the 10 Commandants as it relates to the entertainment business.
1. Thou shall have no other gods before me
This is the mantra you must believe to be a ground breaking part of the entertainment business. This business demands tenacity, chutzpah and sacrifice. The first sacrificial lamb is your ego. How will you cope when you are no longer the smartest, prettiest or oddest person in the room? Be warned this rollercoaster is not for everyone.
2. Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image
We promise we know the real meaning of this commandment but for the folks at First Film Job, we will use the broad interpretation that it is “no form is greater than another”. Once upon a time, feature film professionals wouldn’t dream of working in TV. Now they would give their left foot to create something half as engaging as BREAKING BAD, HOMELAND, GAME OF THRONES, WALKING DEAD, or SILCION VALLEY. Two years ago it was inconceivable that Netflix would produce the massive hits HOUSE OF CARDS and ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. So don’t be a snob about where your art lives, simply make and market it. In fact Karen Kaufman’s books, THE STUDIO DIRECTORY and INDEPENDENT DIRECTORY happily thrive on Amazon.com versus the shelves of a book store.
3. Not takes the Lord’s name in vain
I know you are a frustrated artis but sitting around bitching about the business isn’t going to help. Also hating everything is short sighted. Instead, learn to like or at least appreciate work that is not yours. This is especially true for first time directors or first time writers. You only look like self centered diva and no wants to work with a difficult personality.
4. Remember the Sabbath day
Opening night! Premiere night! Any day when a product launches is our Sabbath. If you love a specific movie genre or writer/director, make sure you go to opening night of the film. With so many entertainment options, it is imperative that opening weekend/premiere night is a hit. Otherwise, it is quickly pulled from theaters or cancelled. We at First Film Job know that no amount of great product marketing can guarantee a hit so do your part as fan by participating immediately.
5. Honor thy father and mother
It is hard to spend time, money or energy on your family when you working in Hollywood. But if there is one of the most important pieces of film career advice I can give you is “family is first”. For some (like my staff at First Film Job), friends are extended family. Take your head out of your ass and stop taking your loved ones for granted.
6. Though shall not Kill
Unfortunately in Hollywood, we don’t follow this one. We are stellar assassins of the worst kind: we kill dreams. It’s not that we don’t care: we do. However, the motion picture industry or entertainment business overall has become more about commerce than art. At First Film Job’s weekly production meetings we have a rules when we discuss any script writing. Before the criticize it, we must find at least 5 genuine positive about a piece of material.. It’s imperative to teach yourself to appreciate the good in your work (and others) because you will hear far more criticism than compliments in the trenches of Hollywood, California.
7. Thou shall not commit adultery
That’s another one that is tricky in Hollywood. This business rarely rewards monogamy. Staying focused on one job/project/idea/script/ can be stifling and potentially dangerous. It’s crucial to always keep a few balls in the air. Part of the survival of Hollywood California is being nimble.
8. Thou shall not steal.
There are a few thieves amongst us but mostly we are copy cats. Don’t let your being afraid someone might steal your project stop you from submitting it to production companies or discussing it. There are no original ideas but saying “you’re afraid they will steal it” sounds like a rookie. Register your work at the WGA then stop worrying.
9. Thou shall not bear false witness
Ask any staff member at First Film Job and they will point to me, Karen Kaufman, as the queen of breaking this commandment. For years, I have pretended to watch or like something just because it is popular. For example, I used to say how much I loved THE SOPRANOS but had never watched an episode. Then my girl at HBO sent me the DVD set. I watched 3 years in 3 days. I lied because I knew it was ridiculous that I wasn’t watching a show of that caliber. So if you choose to follow in my footsteps then make sure you cover your ass.
10. Thou shall not covet
It’s hard to keep your eyes on your own feet when you see directors/writers/producers/production designers/special effects/stunt coordinators creating greatness. But don’t let their accomplishments make you bitter
, it should fuel you to be better. Challenge yourself to try something differently and see the outcome. Otherwise be OK with treading water.