Hacks to Succeed in the Entertainment Industry

It’s Not Really Called Hacks to Help You Succeed in the Entertainment Business…

The formal, official title of the video I’m sharing below is “Hacking Your Actor Life: Actor Productivity.” But after watching the video on a couple of occasions, and immediately implementing some of the tips in my own life, I determined it’s most definitely applicable to most any sort of career – especially one in the creative-realm, or work-at-home solopreneur world.

It’s never easy trying to break into a new business or line of work. But if you’re an actor or creative trying to break into the entertainment business, you’ve got a very unique set of obstacles to overcome in order to be successful. It takes talent (yes…you must actually be talented), diligence, planning, and a business mindset to really make it in Hollywood (or in any town).

Getting “In”

As someone who’s been on the inside, I know how difficult it is. And people on the inside know just how fortunate they are, believe me!

As a result, I’m constantly seeking new information, the latest tricks/tips, advice, whatever else I can find, to help others break “in.”

I stumbled on this SAG Foundation (Screen Actor’s Guild) video while searching online for something I can’t even remember now. I found it to be motivational, inspiring, and full of useful tips, information and resources for today’s creative. I was compelled to share it. Seriously. These tips are good.

The Video

What’s interesting, is the video is a panel discussion made up of some professionals in the biz. But it’s not like these people are a-listers. They are people who are WORKING these tips and finding success with them on a daily basis.

I encourage you to watch the whole video. You don’t have to watch it in one sitting (it’s two hours long). It can be digested in chunks, but whatever you do, EAT.IT.UP.

And then, go and put these tools and resources to use!

Highlights from the video:

Panelists include Jodie Bentley, Heidi Levitt, Kevin E. West, Ben Whitehair

12:25 – “In this LA entertainment world there are so many types of jobs actors could pursue. One hour drama, half hour comedy… Are all these different options conducive to an actor’s productivity or does it hinder them?”

22:05 – “What type of options do actors need to pursue more? What do they not need to pursue? What is better in the short term? What is better in the long term?”

33:05 – “I’m always interested in distractions. This idea that there’s so much, and the idea is to focus. What are some tips to sticking to your path and not going awry? How do you know when to stick to your plan to achieve the long term benefit even if you aren’t seeing short term results?”

46:13 – “Heidi, does that come in the room? Do you see that? Actors who don’t structure themselves in a way that they can have ease in the room and confidence.”

54:50 – “I’m going to segue over into the business part of an actor’s life. Let’s talk about things like databases, contact lists, and master contact lists. All the things we are supposed to do as actors. How do you track that? How do you save all your activity and use some way to see that data? What mobile apps, social media services, or computer programs do you use?”

1:07:45 – “Along with assessing priorities in your day and your week and your month; what things do you recommend to actors that they do daily or weekly to know that they are being productive?”

1:14:00 – “How do we know that we are in class not just because it is what we are supposed to do? How do we not waste our time and figure out that we are truly being productive learning the craft?

1:20:25 – “How do actors build relationships in the industry without presenting themselves as needy? But rather relate as human beings? How would you talk to a director or a casting director without pitching something?”

1:26:45 – “Heidi do you have any stories of [needy] actors?”

1:34:20 – “As actors we are required to bring emotional life to characters. But sometimes we take this into our business world as well. How as actors do we think long term, and not let our character traits heed our improvement? How do we think long term, in this subjective business?”


Jack Black & Sarah Michelle Gellar

Okay – it was more than one time, but this is one that is detailed in my book “Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood: My Zany Years Spent Working in Tinsel Town.” It was 2002.

I have some really great behind-the-scenes stories involving Jack Black, Kate Beckinsale, and many more… but again, they’re in the book… so you’d better get to reading it, if you want the juicy stuff.

Here, however, are the nitty-gritty shop details, as provided by MTV:

2002 MTV Movie Awards

Host: Jack Black & Sarah Michelle Gellar
Venue: Shrine Auditorium
City: Los Angeles, California
Date: June 1, 2002

Best MovieThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2002 Movie Awards Summary

MTV Movie Awards

In what had to be one of the most daring science experiments of the 21st Century so far, we locked Sarah Michelle Gellar in a room with Jack Black for three hours and just watched the madness unfold. And reader, it was glorious. It all started out with a Spider-Man spoof with a Star Wars twist. Are you on the edge of your seat? Stay there. Brilliant hosting aside, it was a huge night for The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring . It won Best Movie and Best Breakthrough Performance (Orlando Bloom), sweeping Josh Hartnettheart-stopper Black Hawk Down The Fast And The Furious Legally Blonde and horror classic Shrek under the rug.

Best Male Performance went to frequent MTV Movie Awards contributor and former host, Will Smith, for his dead-on portrayal of boxing great Muhammad Ali in, you guessed it, Ali . The champ didn’t even flinch at decidedly burly competition Russell Crowe ( A Beautiful Mind ) and Vin Diesel (The Fast And The Furious) or pretty boys Josh Hartnett ( Pearl Harbor ) and Elijah Wood (Lord Of The Rings).

Nicole KidmanMeanwhile, in the Best Female Performance category, Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor), Halle Berry ( Monster’s Ball ), Angelina Jolie ( Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ) and Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) fell to the red-headed fury of Moulin Rouge! star Nicole Kidman. Once you’ve been married to Tom Cruise, no challenge is too great.

And now… the bad news. In an incredibly rare MTV Movie Awards tragedy, Jim Carrey didn’t win a single award. Best Villain went to Denzel Washington for Training Day and Best Comedic Performance went to – you may wanna sit down – Reese Witherspoon for Legally Blonde. Also missing: scheduled presenter Jodie Foster. We sent two of our best men – Jack Black and Will Ferrell – to track her down, but all we got out of it was a few fart jokes and a ticket for breaking and entering. But somehow the show went on. Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott got Best Kiss for their homoerotic heat in American Pie 2 and Christopher Nolan got Best New Filmmaker for Memento , a very serious movie.

Did somebody say serious? Oh yes. It was Chris Tucker who turned his Best Fight ( Rush Hour 2 ) acceptance speech into a public service announcement about AIDS and poverty in Africa. Way to put that spotlight to good use, Chris. Also taking advantage of the spotlight, Martin Lawrence, who shamelessly plugged his new movie between awards. Also plugged: The White Stripes who all but burned the show to the ground with their medley of “Fell In Love With A Girl” and “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground.” Other performers included Eminem who spat “Without Me” all over the front row and Kelly Osbourne who covered Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.” With that the show was over and with it came one more MTV Movie Awards miracle: Sarah Michelle Gellar made it through the night reasonably unharmed.

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