Marc Scott Zicree

Supermentors

For more info, check out www.supermentors.com.

The Supermentors classes and services stemmed from a need that I saw that wasn’t being fulfilled out in the larger world.  Many of the rules to having a career in film, TV and books are pretty simple, but they weren’t laid out clearly anywhere.  I saw a lot of talented people – actors, writers, directors, producers and others — spinning their wheels and not succeeding just because they hadn’t gotten the guidance they needed.  I decided to do something about that.

Marc and Elaine Zicree

Marc and Elaine Zicree

And so my wife Elaine (also a writer-producer-director) and I created the Supermentors, a service we provide for those in Los Angeles and around the world.  In some cases, our students take our six-week classes in-person or via teleconference, where we mentor them hands-on, giving them the tools they need to make their materials effective and reach the people with the power to say yes.  In other cases – often in addition to the classes – we consult with them one-on-one and/or read their TV and movie scripts and give them specific notes and advice as to strategy.

It’s worked very well.  Over the last few years, we’ve taught thousands of students at all levels in the Industry (including those who’ve already created hit TV shows and movies).  Many of our students are now on TV writing staffs, directing features, starring in TV shows and movies, and much more.  It’s very gratifying.

Most importantly, don’t languish in the dark wondering where the door lies – find someone with a flashlight!

I’ve jotted down some ideas that may prove of help to you – HOW TO HAVE A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD and HOW TO GET STARS ATTACHED TO YOUR PROJECTS:

MAKING IT IN HOLLYWOOD IS SIMPLE
by Marc Scott Zicree of The Supermentors

Actors and writers and producers and directors – especially beginning ones – are often running around crazily to networking events big and small, attending Pitchfests and Industry Expos, feverishly sending out postcards and headshots, reading endless books on the Industry – many of which lay down so many self-contradictory theories and rules that they’re only left more lost and confused than when they started.

Making it in Hollywood is simple, which isn’t to say it’s easy.  But based on several decades in the business (and counting), it boils down to this:

1.  Get clear on what you want to accomplish.  Aim as high as you possibly can.  You don’t have to start at the bottom.  You can start at the top, if your work justifies that you belong there.

2.  Create something that shows the finest quality of what you can do.  It doesn’t have to be long, just good – one or two minutes is fine; most shorts and reels fail because the acting, writing and/or directing is poor – affiliate with those who have the skills you need.  Utilize low-cost HD cameras, Macs with Final Cut Pro and the Internet.  You never know who’s watching You Tube.

3.  Get next to the person with the power to say yes, when he has an opening for what you’ve got (do your homework to determine who that is; read the trades and the Hollywood Creative Directory).  Most executives are lower level and only have the power to say no.  Target the people you want to work with, find out where they’re speaking, use mutual contacts (family, friends, the web), do whatever it takes to get next to them.  Meeting in person is better than phone, phone is better than email, email is better than letters.

4.  Say something about yourself (your life or accomplishments) that interests them enough to check out your work.  Be authentic; if you like their work say something specific about what you like but don’t gush.  Speak from your vision and your heart.

5.  Be mentored by someone who has succeeded specifically in what you’re trying to do; otherwise you’re flying blind (it’s telling that right now J.J. Abrams is being mentored by Spielberg).  Ideally, it’s more than one person.  To get those mentors, make a long list of who’s doing the work you admire and read up on them, on their tastes and enthusiasms, look for commonality between them and yourself (something specific; where you came from, hobbies, personal background).  Go where they’re speaking; interview them for a magazine or a website; hire them — do whatever it takes to get that specific blow by blow advice.  Ideally, they should be someone still in the game, because the specifics of the game change quickly (although some key basics remain the same.  In my own career, I make sure I have one or more mentors for each project I take on.  Over the course of my career, I’ve been mentored by Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, J.J. Abrams, Horton Foote, Guillermo del Toro, many others.

6.  Don’t stop; remember to take constructive criticism, make course corrections as need be (but disregard toxic or negative input, and people).  Nicholas Meyer, director of WRATH OF KHAN recently said to me that what makes for a successful career is “charm and persistence.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

7.  Surround yourself with loving creative people who will allow you your dream.

8.  Repeat as needed.

Feel free this pass this along, as I think it will be of use to anyone trying to make a dent in the Hollywood edifice.  If they haven’t heard of me, you can mention I’ve written and produced hundreds of hours of network TV, had bestsellers in fiction and non-fiction, been nominated for the Humanitas, Hugo, Nebula, American Book Award, etc. (so maybe I have something of a clue as to how things work…).

Whatever your path, I want to wish you the best of luck and encourage you to not wait but just go for it.  It’s true that luck favors the bold and, trust me, it’s a singular joy when something that comes from your mind and heart reaches out to millions of people and stands the test of time.

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