Ramit Sethi with Chase Jarvis – Business Advice For Creative Professionals

I’ve been following Ramit Sethi for a few years, back when I interviewed him for my doc You 2.0. He just had his blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and offered a different approach to personal finance advice. He works really, really hard and in the years since has done a great job becoming the next generation Suze Orman.

Lately I have mixed feeling about his content. It seems like most of his emails have the one goal of trying to convert you to buy one of his courses.

That said this interview with photographer Chase Jarvis has some of the best advice I’ve seen, especially for creatives who make their living from job to job and don’t get a steady paycheck. Finding clients, negotiating, figuring out how much to get paid. It’s free, it’s an hour and a half of good content, and it has some concrete tips you can walk away with.

You should also check out Chase’s interview with Tim Ferriss. If you read 4 Hour Work Week or are familiar with Tim’s work, it’s mostly a rehash of that. But if not, you can get caught up in less than an hour (the last part of the hour and a half video is Tim playing photographer with a model).

Being Hollywood and Fake Interviews

First off, Oscars. Slumdog – woo! Though no surprise there. It is sad, though, that for a film that swept the Oscars it hasn’t even broken the $100 million mark, which means most people haven’t seen it.

I thought the actual Oscars program was well done. Hugh Jackman was great and it was nice that he played to his talents. My favorite moment had to be the little bit of Cloverfield that was snuck in. I forgot which award it was but instead of playing the movie’s theme (probably didn’t have one) they played Roar!, that awesome (and only composed song) during the end credits of Cloverfield. Yes, I know, I’m a film geek.

And here’s a video that explains what Ben Stiller was up to (via Leo Laporte on Twitter).

But back to what I originally intended to blog about.

So two weeks ago I did the Hollywood thing. I flew from Miami to LA in the morning, went to a screening, then hoped on a plane the next day and went right back.

Each year the Film School puts on a screening in LA of some of the best films that came out of the school the previous year. I happened to produce one of those films, so I thought it would be worth it to go.

WGA Theater

That and it was a good excuse to see all my friends who are now out in LA. It was a lot of fun and great to see everyone, but at the same time it was a hard dose of reality. All of my friends are interning at production companies 8-10 hours a day. Even if I did stay longer we couldn’t really have done anything since they had to go to work.

So basically I came, I saw, I went. But before I went, I stopped at the Starbucks near my friends’ place (they live in Burbank). As I was walking in this cute girl asks if she could interview me for Extras. Sure.

They wanted to get my thoughts on the octomom. Oh, and just to clear something up – by ‘interview’ I mean they told me everything to say.

“So what do you think about the mother with the octuplets? You’re outraged, right? That’s going to cost a lot of tax dollars to raise those kids. So just say how it’s going to cost a lot of our money to support those kids.”

I give the best performance I can muster, but if you want to imagine my acting style think of Patrick Warburton.

“Great, great. Let’s do that again, but with more energy.”

I was on Extras that night, two Wednesdays ago. They also had me read for a Valentine’s Day segment they were producing, which was by far my favorite.

“Okay, I need you to look in the camera and ask, ‘I’ve been in a relationship for a long time. What can I do with my girlfriend to mix things up?’ (BTW, I have no girlfriend).

Unfortunately this didn’t air, but at least it made my favorite story of the week. I went and got my Espresso Truffle, and when I came back out they were interviewing two women from Idaho. I guess they rely on tourists to be suckered into doing this.

Once their interview was done we all ended up talking afterwards. Then I left, saying I had to go see my fake girlfriend.

To cap off the trip, I finally got to use a Dyson AirBlade at LAX. It’s the coolest hand-dryer ever, ranking (in my hand-dryer rating system) just above the Xlerator. What can I say, I like dry hands.

Reassurance (And Why I’ll Remain Behind the Camera)

If you survived the 2 years in Film School, you’ll do fine in Hollywood.

Said by Ali Bell, visiting alumni.

Sorry I can’t write more, I’m in the midst of a perfect storm and potential breakdown (Update: storm has passed).

But on another note, I should probably remain behind the camera:

“I’m here with my mom actually who’s up here for homecoming, we we came to the marketplace to kinda hang out. I mean it’s always fun, it’s kinda cool to see local venues and stuff.” says Joey Daoud, a FSU Film School Student

They actually recorded that on-camera, but for some reason it never aired. I guess I was too articulate for them. I did, however, warn them that I was in fact dragged to the marketplace against my wishes.

And to show how small a film world it is, I found out the person interviewing me is the girlfriend of one of the actors who’s been in many, many films.

Oh, and new Watchmen trailer:

Film School Grad in Hollywood Reporter

Ali Bell, 30

vp production and development
Montecito Picture Co.

Not everybody can trace their film career to their mother’s love of John Singleton’s “Boyz n the Hood.” “It was a combination of the acting, the cinematography and the way my mom was so rocked by the experience,” Bell says. After film school in Florida, she set her sights on directing but segued to producing after working as a marketing and creative exec at Nickelodeon Films and Heyday Films. For two years she’s been at the production company headed by Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock; Bell is responsible for projects like “Underage” and “The Occupants” for Warner Bros. — as well as bringing in the upcoming Fox Atomic comedy “The Post Grad Survival Guide.” “My job is to go out and find new writers or directors and guide them to get their movie or passion project made.”

THR Next Gen 2008: Film

Yes, that “film school in Florida” is FSU. Ali Bell graduated in the class of ’99 and she’s actually paying a visit to the Film School this Friday to talk to my soon-to-graduate class.

I also thought it was funny that the Next Gen in New Media only had four guys (though twice as many as Legal).

Burn Notice – On-Set and Production Assisting

At the beginning of the summer I had mentioned how I stumbled on the set of Confessions of a Shopaholic and through a couple degrees of someone who knows someone, I was put in touch with the Location Manager of the show Burn Notice and invited to come out to the set. This is what happened.

I showed up to the Burn Notice set, which is in a convention center they’ve converted to a soundstage (Marley & Me was filming in the other half). The building looked normal until I rounded the corner to find a huge sea of production trailers, along with random fragments of sets I recognized from the show.

I met Melanie, the Location Manager, and she brought me inside. The first hall was filled with department trucks and a giant set building workshop.

Going through to the other side was the sets – Michael’s mom’s house and his apartment, complete with a giant cyclorama of Miami.

Melanie introduced me to the Assistant Directors (ADs), who then asked if I wanted to be a Production Assistant for the day. Um, sure.

Unlike Film School where we’re lucky if we have four working walkies, wireless communication was so abundant on set even I got a walkie with a head piece, along with a few sides.

In fact, there’s so many walkies out that each department has their own channel (production team, art team, grip and electric, etc.).

I was stationed near a side door and basically had to yell out whatever the first AD said – the usual cadence stuff. “We’re going for picture! Quiet on set! Rolling!”

Between setups I could roam around, observe, and talk to people.

Honestly, I felt like I was right back on a film school set. It felt so familiar. The only difference is more people and larger production.

The set was run the same, the process was the same, the equipment was better but still the same. They even fell behind schedule, just like us. Okay, there is one major difference. Craft services is amazing and even has a waffle making station.

While the crew was setting up for a shot, I started talking to the First Assistant Director. She asked what I wanted to do, but answered it before I could get a chance. “Direct, of course.” Well don’t I feel like the typical film school guy. I said yes, but I also like producing, which seemed to be a different reply than she’s used to.

With each department I did notice something very interesting. As the positions got higher, so did the age. With the camera team, the Second Assistant Camera was young but still in his thirties. The First Assistant Camera was older, followed by an even older Camera Operator and then a graying Director of Photography.

This can be seen in the Art and Production departments as well. Of course the writer/producer for the episode, who was pretty much chilling near video village on his Blackberry all day, was in his 20s. I want that job.

Another interesting dynamic was how each person only cared about their department and nothing else. One of the ADs caught me looking at the lighting set-up for a scene, and asked what I was looking at. When I told him the lighting, he responded, “So now you want to be a cinematographer?”

The few times any of the Assistant Directors asked for something over the walkie, I was pretty quick to respond – something I thought that went with the job. But apparently this was above average performance, because by the end of the day they asked me to stay on for the production of the entire season at $125 a day.

Tempting, yes, but returning to broken equipment and scarce walkies, along with the occasional making of movies, won out.

More pictures here.

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