Thursday, September 02, 2021


Here’s part two of my interview with legendary Hollywood producer Gary W Goldstein, where we’ve been discussing how it’s imperative to be bold as a writer…

What was it about the writers you've championed that attracted you to them?

I'm looking for people who have personality and aren't afraid of telling their story and that they know how to tell a story. Not because they write a perfect script, there is no such thing. At the heart, I want to see there’s a very meaningful and worthwhile artist at work, who’s got a fresh perspective and is not trying to mimic others and be commercial in the marketplace… true storytellers.

What kind of script are you looking for? That's just such a terrible question. What am I looking for? I'm looking to be lit up like a human Roman candle. I want to be surprised. I want to be moved. I want to see brilliance. I want great dialogue and characters that relate. Take me on a journey that I wouldn't have expected, to a place I've never been.”

One of the most frequent questions I read in writers’ forums from new writers is, ‘How do I get an agent?’ 

“My answer is always, ‘are you earning money?’ You need to prove to them that you're worth taking on and it's not just a matter of having a good script, you need to be out there actively looking for work, making those contacts so that you're attractive prospect. You're not going to get signed at CA if you don't have some business on the table and it better be good business because they got too much going on. I believe that absolutely. I believe that people need to earn their way into success.

What can writers do to earn their successes?

That involves a lot of failure. The best way to succeed is to fail fiercely and quickly, ten times more than you are right now. If you're not failing a lot, then you're not going to succeed. So to get over this fear of scraping your toe or whatever that is, earn it and earning it is being busy on your own behalf. You need to bring activity and conversation and meetings and new people into the circle.

I was always happily surprised, like, holy shit, this is amazing, right? I've got a client who's in the game. They're not in the stands, watching the game. They're on the court, tennis shoes, laced up, ready to go. They're playing the game. And it's like, that's what I need. I need someone that I can send into a room. Who's going to be happy to be in the room. Not afraid. I need someone who has earned it and is humble enough to go in as an artist and really tell the truth with no bragging, and connect deeply with people.

I had an actor friend who was in a big funk. I asked him why? And he said, well, I just went into an audition. It’s such a great role. It was a beautiful opportunity. And I just, I didn't get the gig. And I said, I'm sorry to hear that. Tell me about it. So he tells me about it, what the role is, the project, blah, blah, blah. I said, who was in the room?

Was there a casting director? Was there a casting associate in the room? Yeah! Was the producer there? Yeah! There was like this cabal of serious people in the room. And I said, okay, so you went in and you gave your best performance? Yeah! So I'm sorry, I'm hearing like this incredibly successful story and you're all blue and down on yourself and in a funk. So why are we seeing this so differently?

I'm going to guess that you think the purpose of an audition is to book a gig? And he said, of course. Let me be honest with you, you just told me that you went into a room and you got to be a living, breathing personality in this room with these people who are in the center ring of Hollywood. You had a chance to meet all these people and give them a sense of who you really are, not in character, but as a human. And then you got to perform for them. Do you know how many people on the planet would like to trade places with you? Your job in an audition is to put out the welcome mat, hug people, let them see who you are. Smile. I mean, literally just smile, have fun. Be the one who's pleasant to be around and then give the best damn performance you can give and then leave. Not without another hug. Make them want to invite you back.

Then when you audition for them again it's like, ah, it's Dominic. He's always pleasant. He's always smiling. I mean, it's not always on a conscious level, but now I know you in the business sense, now I can hire you. You need to let people know you, you need to let them be your goodwill ambassador. Maybe make referrals, maybe open doors, maybe talk about you behind your back.

I say similar things to writers who have suffered rejection and they get really upset about it. My philosophy is it doesn't mean your screenplay's bad. They're not rejecting you. They're just that screenplay just wasn't for them at that time.

When you find the people that you admire, that you would want to know you and know your body of work, then go after them intentionality, meet their assistant, meet their creative executive, you know, like find your way into that conversation with patience, knowing that this would be worthwhile and they would be someone that you would really want to have an enduring career with.

So it's worth investing a little bit of skin in the game. It's one script, it's not who you are. Their opinion may or may not be well-grounded, there's so many variables. Did they have a bad day that day? Did they not like science fiction?

Would you say it's better to aim to make connections with the big hitters? Or do you think it's also valuable too to try and make relationships with interns or script readers and people like that?

It's not about big hitters because that’s a recipe for frustration. Number one, if you do have big hitters on your list they're not your target. Someone on their staff is your target.

If I'm relatively new and I knock on Steven Spielberg's door, should I expect him to really have the time for me or even answer the door? No, it's unrealistic. He's surrounded by people because he's the CEO of a fortune 100, he's got a bunch of people that firewall him from just that sort of thing. Not because he's not generous, but it needs to be filtered. So I want a warm entry. I wanna befriend and invest in someone who is, you know, maybe one of his creative executives, or an assistant, anyone that has been vetted and trusted and is on the inside, is in my view, equal.

I just went through this exercise with some people the other day. I randomly put in a keyword into LinkedIn and it wasn't even unique to Hollywood, but it was all Hollywood, you know, like I knew what was going to happen.

And I didn't even get past the first two pages. It was just all the exact right people. So I didn't bother going on. I just clicked profile after profile. And after about six or seven they had all done A, B, C, D and E. They've been interning here and an assistant there and a creative executive. I mean, it was like astonishing what they'd done, agency, production, like they were clearly learning the business from the inside out.

They were probably three years into their career and they'd already had a couple of great gigs. They do 18 months. They move on. These people are in the business of building their currency, their knowledge base and their relationships. That's the person that I want. That's the person I know who is going to succeed. They're going to make it. I don't know how, I don't know where, but that's part of my conversation.

Part three coming soon...

Happy Writing

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