Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Advice for Youth Regarding the Academy Awards

When experienced and senior people such as myself deign to teach callow youth about the "industry", what is our motivation and what is it we should expect?   Our motivation is, generally speaking, to help our students by generously giving them the benefit of our experience.  What we should expect in return is their complete obedience and undying gratitude.

One of the courses that I taught for NYU at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies provided an opportunity for me to relate a few simple suggestions that I thought would be helpful to them when/if they came to the West coast to try their fortune in the glamourous motion picture industry.  As time has passed I continue to believe that these suggestions are as valid today as when I taught those classes.

My suggestions, based on personal experience, are as follows.

First, its important to start practicing your acceptance speech for your Academy Award now and well in advance of actually needing it.   The simplest way to do this is to stand in front of a mirror and practice your speech.  A few minutes a day, every day, is recommended. Be sure to use a touch of humor, be gracious and never forget the virtue of being brief.   Everyone is nervous the first few times they receive this award and you will be no exception.   Also, remember that the "Oscar" is heavy, being made from depleted uranium, so you might want to work on your upper body a few weeks before the great day.

Second, its important as well as gracious to acknowledge your fans as you are getting out of your limo in front of the theatre. Your fans have been waiting there for hours if not days just for a chance to get a glimpse of you. Their lives are pointless and you can cheer them up, so why not?

Always be dignified as this ingenue is demonstrating here

Third, its important to be magnanimous in your speech. Always thank the little people who contributed to your award, even though you know, and the important people know, that they had nothing to do with it. All the good ideas came from you and you alone.

Fourth, if you are not being awarded this year by some mistake or oversight, you can still get some visibility on air if you follow this little trick and have a little luck.  The news pool usually has their camera used to interview stars placed so that the television audience can see who is arriving at the awards on the red carpet in the background.  If you are careful, you can evaluate who they are interviewing and make a judgment about whether or not they will be on air as you walk into the awards.  The technique is to stall until you think the time is right and then walk in and past that area, turn around and walk back, then turn around again and finally walk in.  This way you get three exposures, not one, and your fans will be grateful.

Fifth, do not be concerned about getting a date for the Academy Awards.  No one has ever experienced any problems getting a date for the ceremony.  You can be the most unpopular person in the world and men or women will line up to go to the Awards and tell all their friends about it later (who will be suitably impressed and jealous).

Finally,  I had a few thoughts on the topic of career planning which I shared and which I believe are even more valid today.   Do not go to Hollywood and offer to be an assistant, or work for free, or start at the bottom.  That is all crap.  Jeffrey Katzenberg was 19 years old and started by being assistant to the head of Paramount and look what happened to him.  Be warned,  Hollywood has plenty of people willing to start at the bottom.  What Hollywood does not have enough of is people who have the courage to come in and be the producers, directors, writers and actors who take charge and show them how its done.   There is a shortage in all these areas.   When you go to Hollywood, don't be modest but speak truth to power and tell them how they have fucked up and how things should be done now that you have arrived.

They love that kind of chutzpah.  For them, it means that you have the self-confidence to be a top player.

I promise you that they will appreciate your honesty and it will be the start of a brilliant career.

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