Unlocking Hidden Opportunities: Navigating the Industry During Difficult Times
Unlocking Hidden Opportunities: Navigating the Industry During Difficult Times
Hi, I’m Kaia Alexander, founder of the Entertainment Business School. In case you don’t know my background, I was a development exec with a company called Inferno, and we made films like JUST FRIENDS with Ryan Reynolds, PEACEFUL WARRIOR with Nick Nolte, and THE GOOD NIGHT with Gwyneth Paltrow and Penelope Cruz, HACHI a DOG’S TALE with Richard Gere. I then went to work for comedian Garry Shandling, whose career wisdom and insights I continue to bring my students.
It’s a weird, wonky time for media, and to have a career above the line. We’re in the middle of the WGA strike. As I talk to you now, it’s possible that SAG-AFTRA will strike. The new player in town isn’t even a human being, it’s AI, and even as the tech lords worship it, creatives like you and me are on edge about it.
In this video and post I’ll highlight 5 ways to position yourself for the post-strike industry.
If you’re feeling like things look bleak, you’re certainly not alone. No one knows what’s going to happen. But even in the midst of all this – film and TV is still a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not going away, but it will transform. So you need to give yourself every advantage right now.
This is my first video in this series of 3, and I’m going to help you get buttoned up to handle what’s happening right now, so you can improve your positioning in the market.
I’m going to talk about the hidden opportunities that are here for you, right now, even in the midst of all this chaos. There’s some homework for you here that I really want you to do, so that you’re ready for what comes next in your career once the strikes are resolved.
So what’s the current landscape?
A few silver linings to keep in mind: Every single important thing that writers have gotten for themselves over the last 50 years has come out of a strike. Including health care and residuals. Yes, streaming changed the landscape, but you better believe the writers are unified in their determination to remain undaunted. The writers will prevail with a new deal. I don’t know when, but it’s inevitable.
So knowing there WILL BE A DEAL, let’s talk about how you can better position yourself, whether you’re in the WGA or you’re an emerging writer, or you’re a director, producer or aspiring showrunner.
- 1- Invest in your relationships. I want you to call people. Go walk the picket line. Fall into step with people and ask them about themselves. Make some friends and call some old friends. There’s an old saying that people are more bonded who share a bag of salt vs bag of sugar. It’s a war time analogy. It means if you go through something difficult with somebody, you’re going to trust them more, value them more, and appreciate them more, and also support their choices. Who are you supporting right now? List 3 people, and I want you to call them TODAY. Not text. Not email. Call.
- 2- Work on your reel, work on your spec script, flesh out your Youtube. Decide to come out of this moment with something new under your belt. If you’re a director, your reel is the biggest advantage you have if you don’t yet have a produced film or episode of TV under your belt. Michael Hahn wrote in and asked me: How do you convince someone to take a chance on you as a director? As an executive, what makes you decide to trust a leader-for-hire? The answer is the QUALITY of their professional work. You need a solid reel to showcase your work. Or at least a micro budget feature. Shorts don’t convince anyone that you can shoot a feature. But it has to be extremely impressive as you only get one chance to make a first impression. Emotional, engaging, funny, creative, high production value. We need to experience chills. So get on it. If you’re writing, what spec script is the one that feeds your soul. Write it for yourself and no one else. Dive in and splash paint all over the page. It will be the one that gets you work after the strike. And if you don’t yet have a Youtube, it’s an equivalent platform to ABC in terms of their ad revenue. You want to be on Youtube making stuff. Be a content creator there, and flesh out your strategy to grow your channel.
- 3- Go after IP. I have a whole webinar I’ll be teaching on this in the coming week, but I just want to plant the seed here that every author dreams of having their book turned into a movie or TV show. That you can reach out to them and ask if their rights are available. That’s an email or a phonecall to them or their agent. Just ask. And you’d be surprised how many respond yes, and that they want to work a deal with you. I teach a whole week on how to do this in the Entertainment Business School and several of my students have acquired their dream IP, and now control the rights and are working on adaptations. You have to think like a studio! And you can.
- 4- Decide to master ChatGPT and prepare to put that on your resume. Like it or not, The future will belong to those who control the AI. No AI can do what you can do. Your emotional depth, intuition, creative lens, voice and ability to convey nuanced experience are irreplaceable. But it can be your virtual assist. It can bolster your productivity. And if can make you faster, time is money. AI cannot possibly replicate your authenticity, so dive in and figure out what it CAN do you for, and add it to your bag of tricks.
- 5- Update your IMDB. Please Jesus do this for me. I can’t tell you how many directors I’ve looked at on IMDB who have not filled in their videos section- no reel, no links to view anything. Is your bio up to date? Is your headshot recent enough that I’d recognize you if I saw you at a festival? It’s really important that you do this, as IMDB is the #1 place your potential employers and producers go to figure out if they should hire YOU. And if you’re IMDB isn’t current, they won’t.
If not you, than who?
If this is your dream career, I want you to commit to giving it your all this year. You’ve got to take every single advantage you can give yourself. Determine what’s in your way. And let’s get it out of your way.
I get that it’s a very hard time. You might be like, Kaia, I am completely broke, or I don’t have the right connections to make it happen, or I am so deep in debt with my student loans that it’s terrifying to face the job market right now. Or I’m too old – I know that one. Or that in this industry full of white gatekeepers, they’re not going to get me or my work.
Listen, you can’t believe those voices in your head. For every single reason you can give that you are going to fail- there’s evidence of someone just like you who succeeded. Who is no more talented than you. But who persevered. YOU CAN PERSEVERE, TOO.
So I want you to do the homework of the 5 things I listed for you here, and decide to persevere. If you can’t stop thinking about this career, you can’t stop working for it. It’s time to double down.
Okay so let me tell you about what you’re going to learn in my next video – I’m going to teach you about how to go from Unknown to
Like I said at the top of this video – this is a multi-billion dollar industry. And the buyers have more pressure on them than ever before to come up with hits that keep the audience coming back. Churn is a real problem for them, and if your talent means that they make money, you’re going to make money.
Please leave a comment below, and share this post with your friends and colleagues. The application window for the next class of the Entertainment Business School is coming up. We study this stuff together, we work on your positioning together, you don’t have to take the wind in your face alone, you have a wolfpack. EBS changes my students lives – you build confidence, learn the business side and make friends for life. I do hope you decide to apply because no one succeeds without support.
So go do the homework, drop me a comment or question, and I’ll see you in our next video in a couple days!