[Video 3 of 4] Your questions answered! Plus some insights from Garry Shandling about going pro
What separates the pros from the rest? Here’s what Garry Shandling had to say about that, plus I answer some of your burning questions. Please leave a comment, and share this video with your friends and colleagues!
(It’s all here, but you need to watch to hear my answers to your questions!)
Hi everyone! And welcome. I’m Kaia Alexander, and in this 3rd video of 4 during the month of December, I’m opening the kimono for above-the-line creatives: writers, directors, producers- and today is no different!
Quick recap of who I am in case you missed video 1 or 2:
About me- why should you listen to me?
I’m the founder of the Entertainment Business School. I was a dev exec on some big movies like JUST FRIENDS, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, THE GOOD NIGHT. These were movies with actors like Ryan Reynolds, Nick Nolte, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Danny Devito.
I 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, 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 video 2 I taught you my game-changing secret, which is a total mindset, paradigm shift as to how you should think about and do business. It’s networking 2.0 for the 21st century.
Here in video 3, I’m going to talk answer some of your burning questions. So let’s dive in.
WHAT GARRY SHANDLING HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE PROS
First I want to tell you a story about Garry Shandling, and convey some of his marrow to you, and then I’ll share an analogy.
When I worked for Garry and was day in day out breathing his air, I was learning so much. Garry was a tough critic, but there were 2 things that if he gave you one of these compliments, it was huge.
The first one was, it’s good. You’re good, it’s good, or the show is good. If he said it was good = high praise. Because often he didn’t say anything at all. He loved his friend Sacha Baron Cohen, and often said, “He’s so good, no one even realizes it because he’s so understated. Borat will change all that.” He was right, of course. Good. Sacha is good. That was Garry’s highest praise.
His other compliment was usually about comics, but it applies anywhere in the industry as an imperative at the pro level, which is: they’re fast. Garry always complimented comics who were fast. And admired it as a skill you could develop. He once said about me, “You’re getting faster.” High praise.
Here’s why it matters: if you’re good – talented – but not fast, in this business that costs money. It means you’re coming in over budget. It means you’re less reliable and more precious. If you’re fast, but not good, you’re not a pro – you’re a hack. You’re going to stay at the fringes of the business.
So you need to make a decision to do whatever it takes to get really good, and be really fast.
MY SILLY SKIING ANALOGY AND WHY IT MATTERS
I’m glad you asked and here’s my silly analogy. Skiing with my godfather in Taos a few years ago we had a fun day on the slopes, and I started to really dial up my speed. This one run, I was tailing him and he was going as fast as he could, and I was going as fast as I could. It felt really fast – and I was loving every minute.
Then, on my right, comes this Nordic ski god, and he just whizzes by me like a bullet. Right past my godfather to the chair lift. Then he went up again, and lapped us one more time before we got down the mountain.
I thought I was going fast. I wasn’t even close.
A lot of above-the-line creatives in this business think they have what it takes, but the reality is, unless you can get in with the pros and breathe their air, and really SEE what it takes, you won’t even understand why you’re getting lapped, and how much better you need to be.
In the Olympics, the only thing that matters really is that you win gold. But would you expect to get on that podium without a coach? No way!
You need somebody in your circle who is boosting you – how good you are, how fast you are. Who is training you to crush your career. That’s training. And it matters.
That person may be someone you pay, like a script consultant or an industry company that supports your craft. Or it may be joining a program or a mastermind. I offer a program called the Entertainment Business School where I coach my students. Don’t resist paying- just be very strategic and targeted about who you pay so you’re sure to get real career results.
I had Garry Shandling. And you may find a mentor, too. Someone who hires you, and trains you. You need that. You can shadow a director, or work under a show runner, or PA on a set. Whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes!
Now let’s get to some questions. I had a lot of questions and if I answered them all this video would be an hour long, so let’s touch on just a few. I’ll share them here below- and you need to watch the video above for my answers!
I want to understand distribution
How difficult is it approach and pitch your material to production companies, with and without representation?
My big question is about querying. In an unsolicited query (because I don’t know how to get a solicited query) how much information-logline-etc. should be in it? I’ve seen folks say loglines will be thrown out, I’ve seen folks say have a little something to excite the appetite, and I know everyone has their preferences, but with everyone having their preferences, I’m feeling lost.
I think I want to know where to start submitting TV scripts/a guide of how to get started writing in rooms. I’ve written a few pilots which I love, and have a lot of experience writing comedy but I’m lost – where on earth do I start?
A former movie exec hammered me to write my 1st Screenplay and when I just started entering it in film festivals I got selected in various ways in the first 6 I entered thus summer.
But- how does a newbie get a Producer to read it? I started sending query letters last week but I don’t have any expectation that I’ll get a response. Hopefully my awards may help??
Thanks very much.
How do I find film financiers?
How do I approach talent w/ projects?
How do I go about getting LOIs? (Letter of Interest)
How can I gain access from afar as a features writer?
Watch my video above to hear my answers!
And stay tuned for our next video, where I talk about the process of transformation that you need to undergo to reach that pro level you want to play at.
I want that war chest money for you!
I’ll also share more about the opportunity to learn from me in the Entertainment Business School, because enrollment is only open until December 22nd, when the doors close for the winter 2022 cohort. I only teach this class a couple times a year, and the seats are limited so I can give everyone in class a lot of 1-1 attention. I’m excited to tell you more about that, too.
Please be sure to leave a comment below, and share this video with your friends and colleagues, and I look forward to seeing you in our next video!