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faq


my favorite things

Movie

Gladiator. When it came out, I thought I said so because it was fresh in my mind. No. Today, still my favorite. Revenge is the best theatrical theme. Timeless. And, the action is great.

Film Director

I can't pick one! No! Never! ;) Too many inspire me!

Book

The Diary of Anne Frank. Since I first read it, actually. She was a normal teen imprisoned in a world of hatred.

Exercise

Weight lifting in solitude, elliptical machines, ice skating, roller skating.

Store

Apple, or if online, the iTunes store. Nothing makes me happy like the discounted movies section! Who doesn't love any kind of shopping where you don't have to leave home?

Food

Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Narrowing this down was really tough. I firmly believe a good grilled cheese makes any bad day better.

Childhood Food

Cod fish sticks. Bland, boring, but oh so dependable.

Song

Carmen's "Habanera," because I love the idea that falling in love is outside of your control.

Top 40 Album

Britney Spears' Blackout. The production was incredible. Danja is one of my favorite producers, as is Timbaland. Blackout paved the way for pop singers everywhere. Before that, everything sounded like the same almost 1980's bubblegum pop stuff. Pharrell Williams is also a producer on the album.

 

How do I...?

Tips for the millions of People Asking Me the Same Questions

"How do I become a film director?"

A) Be an actor or actress. Become popular or at least somewhat famous. Write a movie. Get funding to make your movie from an indie studio.

B) Write a movie. Make an indie film using your own budgeting and whatever you can get. Show this movie at film festivals. Repeat this until someone at a film festival picks up your movie for distribution. Do that again and again until you become popular and seem to know what you are doing enough for a studio to trust you. A studio then hires you to be a mainstream movie director.

C) Write a movie. Make an indie film using your own budgeting and whatever you can get. Show this movie on any home media service like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. For greater exposure, get thee on a streaming service like Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix. Do that again and again until you become popular and seem to know what you are doing enough for a studio to trust you. A studio then hires you to be a mainstream movie director.

"How do I become a screenwriter?"

A) Make your own movie. Write it. Direct it.

B) Get an agent. Have that agent submit the script the proper way. If not, the studio or filmmaker will either ignore you or throw away your idea for legal purposes. Sell the script to the studio.

Never approach the nearest filmmaker or studio person, be it a famous person or someone up and coming in Hollywood, and mention your "amazing film idea." Don't shove a script at that person. Do not approach him or her on social media. In the Midwest, some people might use very proper grammar and say, "Ain't gonna happen." Don't think you will be the first to change that. Your unsolicited script idea is like the word "fetch" in Mean Girls. These people get asked about "my great film idea" and "my amazing screenplay" all day long from the moment they leave home to logging onto social media back at home.

"How do I become a film score composer?"

You should probably have learned how to play music before embarking on this journey. Once you've taken a childhood's worth of music lessons, or made up for it somehow with music knowledge attained through experience, follow these steps below.

A) Become a film score composer's minion. Too bad for you! Everyone graduating from music school either wants to teach music or be a film score composer's minion. Good luck getting a job. It's doable but hard! Work your way up as a minion. This may or may not work out for you due to the many former composers' minions also competing against you. Wait around forever for lightning to strike. It's probably not going to. It could. Probably, it won't. Being honest.

B) Make a movie. Hire yourself to be a composer for the film score. Rinse and repeat.

C) Have your friend make a movie. Bribe your friend with free pizza for life or whatever it takes. Have your friend hire you to be a composer for his or her movie's film score. Rinse and repeat.

D) Be at least moderately successful as a music producer, rapper, hip hop mogul, or rocker. Have a director hire you because he or she thinks you are cool and probably know what you're doing. Rinse and repeat.

"How do I record orchestral music as a composer?"

A) Find students excited to help you. Pay them in pizza, gift cards, or some form of compensation. Be nice to them. Use either a full orchestra made up of students or layer instruments over each other for a fuller sound, an old trick used in pop music.

B) Compose music on your computer using a fake orchestra. Preferably, an instrument pack you made yourself using the nice students from point A so your work sounds real.

C) A combination of A and B.

D) Hire a more expensive city orchestra or studio orchestra. Pay up. Give them awesome sheet music.

"How do I animate my own movies?"

A) Go to animation school. Learn how.

B) Don't go to animation school. Learn on your own. Sit down and draw on paper and using your computer until you get good enough. Animate your own movies. Learn more as you get better at it enough to improve on your style. Obsess over every animated film possible. Watch lots of Bob Ross. The will to learn can overcome any obstacles!

C) Don't learn animation at all. Hire an expensive professional animation staff. Steve Jobs did it with Toy Story, as does just about every mainstream filmmaker getting into animated films.

"Do I have to be a specific age to make a movie?"

No! You can be 16 or 83. Get started! The sooner, the better. You will take much longer making your first movie or two than anticipated.

"Why should I befriend people in Hollywood/London/Sydney entertainment when nobody is going to finance my movie (or insert career goal here)?"

Because, as I wrote in a first grade homework assignment, friends are good. When you embark on a career path with end goals that aren't "normal" to people or often, are viewed as setbacks because you won't be earning huge income for some time until you make it, you deal with people who don't understand. The only ones who will relate to you are people at every step of this crazy career path. People who are A-list and those who won't be A-list for another fifteen years. A life without friends is terrible. The longer you clam up, the worse you feel. Making friends won't happen overnight; some friends won't be but lunch buddies you eat with every six months. Some are the unexpected lifelong BFFs you read about in old stories.

And, a special someone may be waiting for you whom you meet because of career stuff. Maybe he/she won't be "in the industry," or if he/she is, not famous.  He/she could be that restauranteur you meet catering the party. A behind the scenes film person. A flower shop assistant delivering flowers to the director. Life happens. You need to be there when it does, or this whole career stuff will never make you happy on its own.

The answer to the second half of this very common question I get is, people will help you. They won't overnight. Do you like it when a doctor's office reminds you once per month to book an appointment? No, you don't need any help. You know when to return to the dentist. And being asked to help strangers is exactly that feeling intensified. Someone of power will help you when he/she determines he/she wants to help your career. You never ask that person. Becoming successful is like training as a Jedi, or a ninja or karate champion, for those who like martial arts films. Your master will find you. You may have more than one great master. But you'll be helped by your master. and when he/she feels you are ready to chop a block of brick metaphorically in your career, he/she will help you get to that black belt. You don't ask. It comes to you–and you earn it!

 

Positivity

Self Affirmations

People come up to me asking for advice like I'm Yoda. This whole POSITIVITY section is dedicated to that. Here goes.

I always get asked if I use self affirmations. I got asked so often that I Googled how to do them in front of a mirror. Up pops model Ashley Graham with her advice she tells her self daily: "You are bold. You are brilliant. You are beautiful."

Feeling this didn't apply to me, I came up with: "You love your life. You love yourself. You are exactly the person you wish to be." From there, I'll add on other things pertinent to who I wish to be and/or goals I need to accomplish. Does it work? I hope so! Time will tell!

my Advice for young people

• Your brain is a computer. Whether you are a boy or a girl, there is no difference inside. Our brains are powerful! A brain can be slow, and like a computer, you upgrade the software by learning or getting better at a skill with practice.

• Never deny what your real goals are. When I was all the way up to my 20's, sometimes I felt I had to hide my real career aspirations or my real personality because in the past, people were unsupportive. My own teachers were sometimes mean about it.

• Never give up. When you do, you let the bad people win.

• If you don't believe in yourself, no one will.

• Dislike how others see you? Change your image! Do everything your way – clothing, mannerisms, career dreams, and all life decisions – because when you live for others, you will never be happy. The more transparent the real you is, the more people will know who that is, and the better you'll be able to live with yourself. I've been there and done that with people having a false impression of who I am.