No Saturday is too busy to spend time with aspiring students interested in the film and entertainment business as a whole. It's important to give back and guide the inspired to inspire us in return. That's just what I experienced at LA City College. A group of 50 young, way younger than me, wanting to know what it's really like out there in terms of how to find money, how to package the right film, how to promote it, how to get in a door, any door for that matter.
And LACC is very lucky as the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA) pledged $2,000,000.00 to the cinema and television department . The funds will go to upgrade studio, post production and theatre facilities at the school and in turned will be renamed the HFPA Center for Cinema and Television at LACC. What a great story. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hfpa-makes-largest-gift-ever-793553 .
At Hey Girl Hey Entertainment, my daily job is really about helping people put their ideas and dreams together while finding time to make my own. My choice is to push as much information out to make a deal happen. Not any deal but at least one deal from which I can benefit. My challenge in speaking to a group of aspiring independent film and/or TV producers, writers and creative types is to encourage them wholeheartedly and make sure they truly believe in their dream. So that's what I did. I started by making every single student close their eyes and imagine their own film title on the screen. Watching their faces tells a lot. Some smile, some grimace, some serious, some relaxed, and some probably didn't imagine anything at all, although I'll never know. You have to see the dream to make it happen. It just doesn't happen. At least I've never met those people in my circles. Everyone works hard, very hard, and you just don't see that part. You only see the first success and glory and the photograph that freezes that moment in time.
I start my presentation by saying, "I'm Gayle Dickie and I'm a producer but really I am a problem solver because that is exactly what I do most of the day. I solve problems." They laugh. But it's true. Nothing glamorous about producing except the occasional success if you are lucky enough to have one.
Storytelling feeds the soul. And to be a good producer, writer, actor, this is paramount. So I tell the students at LACC my story. Where I grew up, how I got to where I was going, and what I can share as pitfalls and warnings to gain the most success possible out of that classroom experience is key.
Hey Girl Hey Entertainment is a company I started to do the projects I wanted to do as Gayle Dickie. I tell the students, make sure you have your own "loan out" company. It's important for tax reasons and legitimate write-offs and even if you only have a few people working at your company from time to time, this is essential. I remind the students of the career path you take is important to get your own company going. I had a plethora of jobs prior to starting my own company. That discussion gets us into how I managed that transition.
For years, I told people on airplanes that I, Gayle Dickie, managed Pharmaceutical Supplies so no one would make me explain what a Television Syndicator does! The class finds this entertaining to say the least and we discuss what TV syndication was and is today. The marketplace has changed drastically and opens up miles of new careers in the business of film, tv and entertainment in new media and especially in terms of how we get our entertainment today... those platforms and distribution verticals have gone through and will continue to go through globally significant changes.
Everyone in the LACC class of independent production knew what an MCN was. At least it appeared they did. But I wanted new filmmakers to be aware that the distribution of our content is not just finding a distributor to get our films distributed on traditional screens. It's about monetizing our films way beyond the box office. That information garnered some of the more interesting questions as how 'day and date', 'four-walling', VOD, PPV, and revenue sharing on various platforms is and has become the new normal.
Google/YouTube - a Billion Plus people a month are on that platform. Granted it's messy and awkward and difficult to search, but it is what it is and it's coming for an even bigger change as well. Can independent producers make any headway on YouTube? The answers were interesting from the class, but not as well informed as I thought. MCN's are to entertainment as what the cable business was to broadcast television in the 80's. That's the most important idea and/or statement to understand for this new class at LACC. A lot of smiling and nodding only confirmed I struck a chord.
And finally, the discussion was PITCH. And the most difficult skill to manage is how to pitch your movie, your TV show, your book, your idea in a sentence. They call it the 'elevator pitch.' And I remind the students you don't want to be chasing your audience out of the elevator to finish your pitch! Learn how to own the room, set the tone, and make an impression. Start with a vision and/or a question or brief story that relates to what you are about to pitch. You have a few minutes. Watch body language. Be aware. Now go for it.
And go for it they will in the coming weeks, when I return to hear THE PITCH. I'm excited to be in a classroom again to hear the voice of a new generation that doesn't seem that different from when I went to college and thought I knew more than I did. Now as Gayle Dickie and along with my company, Hey Girl Hey Entertainment, I'm eager to learn more about what LACC students believe they can produce, create, and successfully achieve. I remind them. Dream it - Believe it - Achieve it.