[VIDEO 2 of 4] Kaia’s Game-Changing Secret for Above-the-Line Creatives On Going Pro
Here it is… Your Game-Changing Career Secret! (Don’t you love this video thumbnail by the way?) Please be sure to leave a comment after watching, and share it with your friends and colleagues! This month is enrollment is open for the Entertainment Business School until Dec 22nd, and I’ll be bringing you a lot of high value content just like this. 2022 is 3 weeks away- get on it!
Hi I’m Kaia Alexander, and in this 2nd video during the month of December, I’m opening the kimono for above-the-line creatives: writers, directors, producers- I’m going to share with you the biggest secret you need to know to really crush it in your career.
Quick recap of who I am in case you missed video 1:
I am the founder of the Entertainment Business School. I was a dev exec on films like JUST FRIENDS, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, THE GOOD NIGHT. These were movies with actors like Ryan Reynolds, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Danny Devito.
I also worked for and was mentored by Garry Shandling
And I’m also an award-winning Harper Collins novelist with my historical novel Written in the Ashes.
In video 1 (Watch it here: https://entertainmentbusinessleague.com/the-biggest-career-killer-mistake-that-above-the-line-creatives-make-revealed/ ), I talked all about the importance of learning the business side of the entertainment business if you’re an above-the-line creative, and I provided some suggestions about where to get that training, courses to take, books to read on how to build your core skills and overcome any doubts you have about business being boring or downright awful. So you get to make more money doing what you love to do most!
In this video, I’m going to talk about the most important element to consider in your career. I call it a game-changing secret.
First, I’ve got a few questions for you:
Ever wonder why you see other writers or directors get job after job and you know you’re good but you’re not getting the same deal flow?
Are you trying to figure out how to make a living doing what you love without moving to Los Angeles, which is becoming one of the most expensive cities in the world?
Are you stuck wondering why great contest placement isn’t getting you the rep of your dreams? Or how to get more reads so the RIGHT people notice you?
Or maybe you’re savvy, and aware your work needs a great producer attached. How the heck do you get to that person?
Or maybe you have a serious case of query fatigue. You just can’t seem to get a response- either from production companies or from reps.
If any of that sounds familiar, like: oh geeze, Kaia, that’s my problem. Keep watching. I’m going to talk you through the fix. But I want to warn you, it’s a paradigm change, and you’ll need to be open to doing things differently to get a different result. Outside your comfort zone!
I LOVE RESULTS. I study them. I’m a total metrics geek. And I’m also a surfer and a runner. I run about a thousand miles a year. And get out in the water as much as I can. I love it. And I’ve spent years devoted to one thing: optimization.
When you optimize your body, your mind, your positioning, you get BETTER RESULTS. If you’re not getting the results you want: it’s time to optimize. You’re never too old or too young, and it’s never too late. You just need to dial in some new habits, some new tools.
Here’s why I’m recording these videos for you, and what I’m seeing from my vantage point in the industry.
This video is about my game-changing secret- the one thing you need to DO to succeed.
I’d like to tell you how I got here, how I figured out this was something people needed because it was a really organic process.
Before the pandemic started, I was thinking about everything I’ve learned in my life about writing, the entertainment business, as well as my job with Garry Shandling. I decided I wanted to give back to young writers. Women have less representation in the industry than men, so I decided it would be young women writers, probably in their 20’s as I felt I could confidently help youth navigate the entertainment business starting out, and that that would be a fun mentorship for me.
I started looking at my local high schools for where I might create a writing program. But then the pandemic hit. And that was it. I was suddenly home with my son, and trying to figure out how to give back in the middle of the world being shut down.
I had very little social media following anywhere, but decided to at least field the idea on Twitter. So I tweeted my development exec experience, as well as the offer to mentor 3 young women. I figured I’d get 10 applicants.
To my shock, I had over 200 applicants. Close to 250. It was an avalanche I was totally unprepared for. But I had time to read everybody’s applications, and one page of a script they sent to me.
One discovery I made was that women of all ages applied, not just young women. And I began to see that there just are very few mentorship opportunities for women. Or really, for anyone. And that level of apprenticeship is what you need to succeed in the industry. Without it, how will you ever get better? You can’t improve in a vacuum.
So I selected 6 women, and we dove in to the mentorship program I created for them.
But in the process of reading all those applications, I saw one GLARING issue pop up over and over and over. It was stated in different ways on the applications.
It went something like, “I’ve placed in all these contests, and I know I have what it takes, but I feel alone. I just don’t have the access I need. I’m not really sure how the pro level of the industry works, and it seems like the only way to get in is to pay for access, which isn’t either A. in my budget or B. in my best interest. How do I find the right representation so I can be freed up to just do the art I love to do? Will this mentorship help me?”
And I was like, okay, there it is. Do you spot the underlying problem in this statement?
It’s the “I feel alone”.
The entertainment industry is a TEAM SPORT. When you sit down and watch the credits of a movie, how many names go whizzing by? Hundreds! Yes, they are mostly below the line, but for a second, just consider how much collaboration is involved. It’s a LOT.
In fact, collaboration is the ANSWER. It’s the entire answer. Yes, you MUST be talented, but if you don’t collaborate your career is over before it gets off the ground.
I’ve been reading to my son Atticus every night at bedtime, the The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and in it he writes, “For the strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.”
That’s when I knew, that’s it!
That’s the GAME-CHANGING SECRET.
You need a wolf pack.
I ask this question of all my podcast guests on the Entertainment Business Wisdom podcast: who is in your wolf pack? And all the pros immediately know their answer:
Oh it’s my wife, my husband, my agent, my manager, my attorney, other actors, even my therapist.
It’s often a pack that has other writers, directors, producers, and a publicist. Once you’re making films, your pack can include the people you employ, or even the execs that come on to support you.
These are the people you trust. With everything in your being. That you can lean on. That you do not have to pretend to.
My friend actress Juliet Landau says this industry always needs you to look happy, busy and pretty. Happy, busy pretty.
The #1 way to working is to be already working. To have a game face. That’s business. That’s being a pro. Not every deal works out. You have to be able to shake people’s hands and move on. You have to be able to wish people well, even if there’s bad feelings.
When there are millions of dollars on the line, feelings run HOT. Things get INTENSE.
You need to be able to share your truth with your team. Who has your back at 11pm on a Sunday night coming in to Monday’s negotiations. That person. Those people. Who you tell the truth. This becomes more important the more celebrity status you achieve, because people love to “yes” celebrities, and they can get insulated from the truth and even feel alone.
Once you figure out who is in your wolf pack, and you audition people for your trust, you can get into the joy of the collaboration and storytelling on the world stage.
The writers who applied to my mentorship program, they were mostly all making the same mistake. They were flying the lone flag up the flagpole of their own dreams. Alone. And this is not an industry that responds to lone wolves. Lone wolves go hungry.
Listen: buyers love teams. Execs love teams. Teams and partners!
The best way to get someone interested in your project is to show them that other people are interested. This can generate scarcity and also a sense of urgency. A feeling they might miss out. If a great project is sitting out in the open with no one around it, the hive mind tends to think it’s not a very valuable project. Even if it’s super valuable. Look at the movie DIRTY DANCING. No one wanted to make that movie. Everyone passed on it in the entire industry.
So you want to gather those “partners in believing” early. Who believes in you? Who’s got your back?
Let me put it this way:
Ever wonder why there are so many producers on every movie? So many names from the PGA that go by in the opening credits? It’s all about team building. Producers calling each other and collaborating on how something might get made. Everyone brings an element to the table.
You need to think that way.
In Garry Shandling’s life, his wolf pack included his attorney Bill, his writer mentee Judd Apatow, his dear friend comic Kevin Nealon, and his best friend Gavin de Becker, who was the founder of GDBA, a celebrity bodyguard company.
We were talking one afternoon and Garry asked me, How many friends do you think you have?
I said ten.
He said, but how many can you call at 2 in the morning?
I thought about it, and the number dropped to 3.
He said, I was going to say you’d be lucky to have 3, I think I have 3.
This baffled me. I always saw people coming and going from his house: writers, his house staff, his pals, comics he hung out with and played basketball with. But out of all those people, and all the love coming at him from the public- he felt he had 3 friends he could call at 2am.
This is why anywhere you encounter me or my teaching I’m like, You need to find your wolf pack.
Now this isn’t the video where I teach you how to do that. This is the video where I’m teaching you WHAT you need to do. The cost of not doing it. The imperative to get on it.
I founded the Entertainment Business School both to teach business but ALSO especially to create an ecosystem where people can find their tribe, and find their wolf pack. To celebrate their accomplishments and also share what they need with each other.
You may think now that getting a rep will change your life. And it will. But only having a wolf pack will TRANSFORM your life.
Ultimately, you want to get in the winner’s circle, and the only way to get there is with a wolf pack. With a team.
Look at the Academy Awards or the Emmys- every speech, how many people get thanked? It’s a LOT. They’re always playing the music to get the winners to stop thanking people, right?
So here’s your exercise:
Think about who you’d thank at the award’s ceremony of your dreams when you win. Are you in touch with those people regularly?
Think about who you want in your wolf pack? Who do you trust? Who has proven themselves to be a valuable team player?
Who can you circle back to who helped you in the past? Would they help you again?
I just did this coaching with a coaching client whose film was distributed a couple years ago, and he’s looking for financing to direct his next feature. And I was like, did you have a good relationship with your distributor? Yes, he said. I said, when was the last time you called the guys there? It had been a long time. So I told him to go back to them. Turns out, they’re producing now. And he already has an IN.
So you may be thinking about what new deal you want- but really, you might also be better off just not overlooking who and what is in front of you now.
So who can you call, who can you email, who can you reach out to who belongs in your wolf pack? Do it now, right after watching this video.
If you get smart about gathering your wolf pack together, and organizing the team, you’re all going to get wealthy working together. Sometimes a few of you won’t be working, and the other members of your pack will employ you. Sometimes you’ll be working and employ them. It’s a reciprocity system.
Garry used to call it building your team. Whatever words you use for it. It’s what you need to focus on if you don’t yet have a team.
It’s not about finding a rep who gets you all the work. It’s about playing on a team, and being someone who can throw and catch a pass. And honestly who has your back.
Remember that you are in the power seat- you decide. Right now, whether you’re dusting yourself off from a career stumble or you’re just starting out- it’s all about learning. Learning from your mistakes, and learning how to avoid future mistakes so you get to actually live your dream.
Living your dream means you get paid to do what you love, and work with people you love and respect and admire- and even in some cases- work with people you grew up admiring.
No matter what comes. You got this. You have a calling. You know where you belong. Now in the words of Timothy Leary: Find the others!
And I want to conclude with a warning, if you don’t find your wolf pack, lone wolves starve out there. You need to learn the skills you need to learn to befriend people AND persuade them, and prove yourself, and tap them for their support.
If you have a tape in your head playing that says I don’t want to bother people- that tape will stop your career. You can be persistent without being a pest. You want to find your wolf pack. They need you too! They may be out there lone-wolfing, so they need you as a leader, to unite them.
So to recap:
If you missed video 1, you can either scroll up on this blog, or click the link in the text here. Be sure to watch video 1 in this series so you understand the learning journey you need to go on to play like a pro in the entertainment business. This is stuff they don’t teach you in film school. Knowledge is power! Get the knowledge. I want this for you. I want to be your trusted source for where to have your career breakthrough.
I’m giving you all this free content in the month of December during the open enrollment of the Entertainment Business School. Our next classes start in January and as of filming this video the morning class is already full, but the evening class has spaces. If you’d like to look at the syllabus and get a sense of what you’d learn from me there, head over to www.EntertainmentBusinessSchool.com for a preview and I’ll tell you more about that in upcoming videos. (LINK: https://entertainmentbusinessleague.com/entertainment-business-school/ )
Stay tuned for your next video in this series, where I continue to open the kimono on the entertainment business for you. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn all you can, and arm yourself with the tools and the knowledge you need to succeed- and succeed to the level of your dreams.
Remember to like, comment and share this video with your friends and colleagues!