Welcome to Hollywood As I Live And Work
An east coast import with a southern charm. Hang with me online as I share a personal perspective on working in Hollywood
Go behind the scenes and meet those that make it happen! Actors, directors, producers, publicists...The best show is always backstage or on set.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Literally two hours ago I was informed of the sad, sad news....legendary, award-winning, singer, producer, and song-writer, Teena Marie has died. Currently, the news is sparse. According to CNN she was found dead this morning in her home here in California. Some reports state she was found by her daughter, who also performed with her.
To the family, friends, and fans, this is a dark, sad day. I too am a fan and over the years I got to tell her so in person a few times at industry events. Shorter than my 5'2 ft frame, Teena always seemed "huge" to me. She could stand tall amid the crowd because she survived much and still came out a winner in this sometime cruel game of show. Her music and career touched and influenced many in the music business.
I love her lyrics which to me read like true poetry without the harmonies. I love too her passionate vocals and the various styles of music she infused in her songs--jazz, classical, gospel, hip hop. Even the rap she did in "Square Biz" is still "hot" some 30 years later 'cause not many artists today could pull it off so effortlessly. She defined "musician" to me in every sense of the word. Ironically, I never got to see her in concert and sadly now I never will.
I also loved how Teena Marie responded to fans. I was really surprised how receptive and responsive she was on the social network, Twitter. She seemed to really have fun with it. Below is one of many tweets between us, which is also why it's so hard to believe she's died. These tweets were in November.
Lastly, if you're 30 something or older, and a lover of R&B music like me, you've got at least one Teena Marie classic within reach:
- "Square Biz"
- "I Need Your Loving"
- "Out on A Limb"
- "Casanova Brown"
- "Ooh La La La"
- "Fire and Desire"
- "Portuguese Love"
- "Ooh Wee"...
Friday, December 24, 2010
Watch this video and see how we brought some Christmas joy to one adorable little boy. Hear too a few tips to remember when participating in our hustle and bustle on delivery day.
And while your in the spirit of cheer, see BlackNLA toy drives from 2008 and 2009. You might even see me in front of the camera for a change practicing my belief that it is often better to give than receive. Merry Christmas, everyone:-)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Glitz, glamour, smiling celebrities, red carpets, flashing lights from fans and paparazzi...that's the business of show concerning Hollywood's highly anticipated award shows. The business of award show production ain't quite as glamorous but it does have it perks. One of those perks being full time work for at least four months.
If you're a Hollywood newbie or convert the Oscars, Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy, BET Awards, and the like are a great way to get your foot in the industry door. In fact, working awards shows is how I began my career anew here in La La land. And every year around award show season someone asks me how I did it. Here's how:
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH MONTHS IN ADVANCE: Most awards shows are produced by only a handful of production companies that generally produce them every year. Find out which production company is producing the show and its contact information. Google is your friend and so are show credits! Show credits are basically a directory of names as well as departments. Check IMDb!
Generally award shows began production at least three (3) months in advance. The sooner you contact the company the better. The early bird gets the work, but BE PERSISTANT if you're told the typical "just send your resume" and hear nothing back. Opportunities happen when you least expect it, especially as the show date nears.
2. ASK FOR THE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: You'll reach the office assistants first so ALWAYS be nice to them. He or she can be your friend on the inside or shut you down in an instant. After the initial hello ask for the Production Coordinator (s) because they typically handle production assistants and related jobs. Right their name & contact info down because this person could potentially be your new boss. If not the coordinator then one of those names you saw in the credits on IMDb in the department you want to work in.
3. IF YOU HAVE NO PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE NOR SHOW CREDITS, SELL THOSE SKILLS THAT APPLY TO ANY WORK SITUATION: 1. Administrative skills; 2. Management experience. These two assets are quite useful in a production environment and could also push you to becoming a production coordinator, but you've got to crawl before you walk.
If you ARE NOT A COLLEGE STUDENT OR A YOUNGSTER, water down that glowing resume to the basics. Hollywood bosses don't generally hire people that APPEAR may question their authority or curse them the hell out if insulted or disrespected. References in this case are helpful and will be called.
REALIZE TOO MOST OF THESE COVETED GIGS ARE GENERALLY GIVEN TO FRIENDS AND FAMILIES FIRST like cell phone minutes. So yes, IT IS OFTEN ABOUT WHO KNOWS YOU, NOT WHO YOU KNOW. But as the show date nears, more positions and opportunities to "PA" will become available to those "outsiders" seeking the work.
4. BE WILLING TO DO THE GRUNT WORK. No you probably won't be offered the cushy job, like an office PA which is mostly administrative. And since the job of a Production Assistant DOESN'T HAVE A SET JOB DESCRIPTION, be prepared mentally to do everything from walking dogs, running errands, to cleaning refrigerators.
5. HAVE A RELIABLE CLEAN CAR, A CELL PHONE, AND A COMPUTER. If you're really lucky, the show may even pay YOU to use your computer and a portion of your cell phone bill but don't ask until your first official day of work. If you've got a decent looking car, especially an SUV, you'll be given priority simply because you'll be transporting everything from office furniture to the big boss's girlfriend or family member to and from.
6. ONLY OFFER TO VOLUNTEER/INTERN/WORK FOR FREE IF YOU REALLY WANT THE JOB: Remember, the competition is STEEP for these award show gigs. Working for free initially gets you inside the production and in front of the people you need to impress that make the real hiring decisions. The offer of free labor backed with a strong resume and a good attitude is hard to resist to an overworked, underpaid, ambitious production coordinator.
Lastly, you should know the pay SUCKS! When I began in Hollywood I made a mere $90/day. And my very first award show I worked for FREE! BUT THERE ARE MAJOR PERKS! Always remember, if hired, you've got an inside track to people and situations outsiders would give a limb and an organ to have. And day of show, you've got the best seat in the house--BACKSTAGE, RED CARPET, or both!
If the powers that be like you then you're "IN" and now you can really begin networking. Make some "Hollywood" friends and associates that will hire you for the next show and project. Remember work in this industry is usually based on referrals, not your glowing resume or degree. It's about WHO KNOWS YOU, not just who you know. Those WHO KNOW YOU GENERALLY HIRE YOU!
Friday, December 10, 2010
In my previous interview with the force known as Debbie Allen, she described her adaptation of the classic Christmas story as a global exploration through dance, music, and traditional native costumes. She did not exaggerate! We traveled to several distant worlds rich in history and culture including Asia and Africa, but of course never physically left our seats. But thanks to Allen's direction and vision, we danced before ancient pyramids in Egypt, clicked castanets to the native rhythms of Spain, and marveled in space and time as amazing trapeze performers challenged laws of gravity.
Amid hundreds of talented kids "The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker" also stars two of our favorite television child actors that are now all grown up: Raven Symone of "That's So Raven", and "Family Matters" Jaleel White. Costumed as the cutest rodents you'll ever want to meet, they help move the story along through humor and song. And beneath the whiskers and fur, you may also recognize Debbie Allen herself having fun on stage.
Last night, while on the red carpet, I got a chance to hear Raven and Jaleel share their excitement about their roles with press as well as snap a few photos of celebrity arrivals. So roll the video below and be sure to head to Hollywood As I Live & Work's Facebook fan page to see some of who came out to support Debbie's "The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker."
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The event was part of the festival's five day schedule of film screenings and industry workshops and sponsored by Paradise Island's Atlantis Resort and Casino. Sixty five films from 20 countries including the Bahamas, Israel, Taiwan, Spain, Japan, and the US were screened during the festival at either the Atlantis Theater or the Galleria Cinema JFK. Says Founder & Executive Director, Leslie Vanderpool:
"The films we showcase are an assortment of narratives and short films that are entertaining, inspiring, and informative. They represent the best of entries from countries around the globe."
While attending this year's festival, Hollywood As I Live & Work and Black Talent News, turned our attention to the filmmakers, many of which were first-timers to the Bahamas Islands. We also talked to festival coordinators and attendees about the climate of filmmaking in the Bahamas and their festival experience. Hear what they had to say in our video coverage below of BIFF 2010.
Overall, we had a wonderful time at the 7th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival--great food, great service everywhere including the Riu Hotel on Paradise Island, and really great people. Special thanks to our hosts, Anita Johnson-Petty, General Manager-Communications, Bahamas Tourist Office, Lee Hayes, Vice President/Managing Director of Lagrant Communications, and our gracious driver, Mr. Romeo, Owner, Romeo's Executive Limousine & Taxi Service.
To see more "personal" videos and blogs of my Bahamas experience see my previous post and visit the Hollywood As I Live & Work Facebook fan page and be sure to "like" what you see.
Photo Credit: IMDB.com
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Surprising it's my first trip to the beautiful Bahamas Islands. The weather is cooler than expected, but perfect for a walk along the beach or shopping on the popular tourist destination, Bay Street. Of course it's also great for enjoying the creative works of several filmmakers from around the world.
Sony Pictures Classics' comedy, "Tamara Drewe", officially began the 2010 Bahamas International Film Festival at the Atlantis Theater on Paradise Island. Directed by the Oscar nominated Stephen Frears ("Dangerous Liasons", "The Queen"), the story is set in a rustic London village and centers around Tamara, a once "nosy" woman who returns home after her mother's death, a group of creatively challenged writers on retreat, and the couple that run the writer's retreat and each other crazy. Seemingly separate stories at the start of the film, they intertwined to create a surprising and funny end.
After the opening night film, we feasted on a range of foods including Paella, pork, and other international dishes at the Spanish themed after-party at the famed Atlantis hotel in Paradise Island. As we ate Flamingo dancers and singers took the stage before the large crowd. Combined with the various Christmas decorations, and large wall sized aquariums filled with huge fish, the event was a great start to the nearly week long festival.
To see videos from my first few days in the Bahamas visit the Hollywood As I Live & Work Facebook Fan Page and please "like" what you see. More videos are soon to come. In the meantime see how the 2010 Bahamas International Festival came to be.