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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rick Friedberg - HOW TO MAKE IT IN HOLLYWOOD - REVIEWED - Fran Lewis

How To Make It in Hollywood: Rick Friedberg


So you want think you want to be a writer, director, actor, and movie producer or even create your own music videos and commercials. Not so fast! There are many things you need to learn, many strategies that will help you survive and stay afloat before you wind up on a sinking ship or worse on a collision course. Back stabbing, undercutting, rear ending, fast talking and even stealing your thunder are all part of what you are about to experience in the world of show business. Even heavily armed cars with bulletproof glass cannot protect you from what you are about to experience in a world filled with self-absorbed, me first only people. But, after you read this insightful, humorous and at times frustrating account of what movie producer, director and writer Rick Friedberg shares with you, I can guarantee that you will be better prepared, have a clearer understanding of whether this business is right for you. Where to begin? He has worked with Academy award winning actors and has written produced and directed many movies but what makes this book quite unique and outstanding is the stories he shares from his own personal experiences and the honest and straightforward way he imparts them. With his 32 rules that you need to follow, underline the salient points, keep a log of your own and jot down how each rule works for you. Whether you are going into this field or any other sports caster, educator, administrator or athlete there is always someone waiting in the wings to steal your thunder, take your place at the top of the heap and make you look like yesterday’s leftovers. So, sit back. Read carefully while I share some of the rules that he created but not all. Like a novel with a twist at the end and a plot that will keep you glued to the printed page until the very end, this book will not only keep you reading until you come to the postscript at the end but will enlighten you as to what you might or might not want to deal with as you enter the world of Hollywood. 

First, think about how badly you want to be in this business. Do you have drive, passion and do you have the stamina to handle what rejection, rewrites, disappointment and hope when things do not go your way? It’s all about Passion says the author and he shares a great story about the award winning series Mad Men on pages 4-7 that will enlighten you. The second rule will help you decide whether you want a career in Hollywood and if you are as obsessed with being successful as our author/writer/producer/director. Starting with shows like The Voice, So you think You Can Dance and American Idol he reminds readers how those that try out must have a real passion for singing, dancing, and hard work. But, even more they have to realize that disappointments come more than success. Coming to Hollywood he relates that his goal was to be a filmmaker. Hopes, dreams and desires as he had written a screenplay hoping that someone would take it. The final outcome read it on pages 10-11. Writing stand-up routines, thinking of a movie idea, writing a song does not come easily as nor does a plot for a good novel. Sharing unusual moments in movies, mainly comedies the author helps readers to understand the difficulties, boundaries, obstacles and classes he attended in order to break into the field. Doing everything possible and understanding as he states and I quote: Conjuring up your own vision-be it a song, book, a book, a movie, script, video or comedy routine takes things like reading, internet surfing and much more. Do whatever it takes!

Is Hollywood the promise land? Find out when you read rule 4? Lessons are not learned in school but are learned by living! How true! Taking an elective class at USC recommended by a friend was a great start. Becoming an intern, taking jobs where you can get them even if the jobs are not at the top of the ladder it might help you rise to a higher rung. Rules 6 and 7 focus on screenplays and movies about subcultures and Doing your own thing. Within Chapter 7 the author shares many stories about how the term: Doing your own thing was coined in Haight-Ashbury and the hippie/acid rock generation. Making movies costs a lot of money is discussed in Chapter 8 and one chapter that will give you the hopeful a reality check is Never Get Your Hopes Up Higher than the Lowest Drawer in Your Desk. Good advice.

The author shares stories about coming from Cheyenne, Wyoming with no friends, contacts or family. Becoming an award winning director as you will learn did not happen over night as he explains that in order to succeed you need to have drive, passion, patience and try not raising your hopes higher than just dresser drawer because if you do, as the author relates, well read the chapter to find out. Money is the focus of chapter 10 and If you write well, they will come Chapter 11 where the prime focus is creating the scene, choosing the right cast, refining but most of all believing in your material.

One chapter that I found quite enlightening and can apply to any field that you are entering is Book your next job before the star of the studio exec croaks or make sure you have another one in the bag before closing the can or saying the final cut on your present project. Read Chapter 12 and learn from the author that you should: Think about that next performance, audition, idea, screenplay or movies before you finish what’s in front of you.” This is definitely true for any vocation as you might be asked to edit a book, rewrite a movie scene, co-author a novel or even teach a college class. But, before you put that final lesson together, or write that last chapter or scene you might want to explore more options to make sure you know where as the author states your “next gig’s coming.” The next chapter deals with how people react to your material, and what happens if you do not act or appear in front of a packed house. Is Humility a highly overrated virtue and something you need to learn from the start: If does not matter what they say about you as long as the spell your name correctly. Telling about his experience dealing with Scientology execs and Rhino guys you will learn exactly what this means and how he got more jobs and more press. Your name spelled right in the entertainment press: PRICELESS!

Fast paced in many respects, humorous stories some quite compelling as the author explains why you need to be  careful when trying something never done before, the birth of Spyhard and how difficult it was to complete it. The pitfalls, the casting situations, the stunts and the long road to success fill the pages of many of the remaining chapters. Working with teens and animals and a wonderful author named Adriana Trigiani whose work I would love to read. Working with her on a project with City kids was rewarding. There are so many rules and important points that he shares that the review would be over 4000 words if I told related everything. Getting a film green lit and understanding that you need to be weary of those you trust or think are your friends is vital. A movie is not completed he states until the final day of shooting. The pitfalls and difficulties of casting and how to work and deal with film crews. Why he always treated and treat them as family is a core lesson that all employers and those in charge should learn. Giving praise where needed, showing respect and taking advice proves that he is a man who is sure of himself, is confident and is willing to learn. Chapter 24 focuses on foreign films and I watched the commercial with Twix Candy and Frankenstein: so amazing and the graphics totally blew me away. I watched another with Chevy Chase and few more to really understand why Rick Friedberg should be considered an icon in this industry. He then goes on to share more of the problems with Spy Hard, UTA, Disney and how things get done: First a producer he states or wanna be producer options a book, story treatment or screenplay. It may and I continue to quote have been written by a produced writer, published author or the producer’s newly graduate from film school’s niece, nephew etc. The rest you need to read as he takes you on the journey along with him as he explains how he met Chevy Chase, the commercials they worked on together followed by all about the credit and blame. This chapter deals with reality TV and the story behind the show: The Real Housewives of Orange County. The rest you need to read for yourself but Chapter 29 I found really valuable as you learn just how cutthroat, vicious and backstabbing this business really is. Dealing with lawyers, agents, actors, movies producers, executives and hoping for the final product to be made, this chapter will help readers decide if they are truly cut out for this or not.

The rest you need to read for yourself as the author concludes with learning from your forebears, what is funny or not and an interesting postscript. Straightforward, honest, to the point, humorous author Rick Friedberg takes readers on his real life journey from the beginning until the present where he hopes to write many more chapters in his life as he made his way to the highest rung on his dresser drawer!
So, you think you want to be part of the Hollywood Scene: Read this outstanding book and decide if you have what it takes!

Fran Lewis: Reviewer