You’re Not Going to Make It.


You read that right.  YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT.

Of course, you COULD add an “UNLESS” to the end of that.  And you have to make your own UNLESSes.

Here are some serving suggestions:

UNLESS you lose that fantasy of what working in film and television is like and make an informed decision based on what it means to pursue a career in some of the most exclusionary professions on earth.

UNLESS you are able to cultivate emotional maturity.

UNLESS you are willing to invest the time it takes to develop your craft.

UNLESS you learn the invaluable lesson that being a decent human being might even get you more work than being especially talented.

UNLESS you are willing to invest the time to get to know who the players are and stay current.  You can’t do business in 2014 like it’s still 1988.

UNLESS you understand that you have to, as Sam Kinison said, “Move where the food is.”

UNLESS you understand enough about yourself to know what’s driving you.  If it’s primarily fame, money and awards, get really big in any other industry and then put your own face on bus benches and billboards.

UNLESS you can learn to be as happy for others when they advance as you would hope they would be for you.

UNLESS you understand that MAKING IT is not a thing.  MAKING IT is a movable abstract that will make you miserable.  Celebrate along the way, don’t wait.

I know.  This entry’s more abstract than most.   I’m just feeling it today.

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8 thoughts on “You’re Not Going to Make It.

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  1. No doubt, the biggest problem we face with complete “newbies” is their unrealistic expectations of what working in unscripted television actually means.

    The people we end up working with, hiring, or accepting show concepts from are the same people who want to work hard, learn the business, and enjoy the ride.

    The guys who brought us the concept for Caged (which ended up on MTV) understood there would be a ton of hard work, knew they had a lot to learn, and WANTED to learn. Made us want to team up with them instantly. They did a great job.

    On the other hand, the minute a new producer walks in and is more concerned with deal making, credits, money, and “product integration” (LOL) the more we want to run. Why? They clearly haven’t taken three minutes to try to understand the business.

    So read Troy’s book already!

    Great post, Troy.
    Best,
    Biagio

    1. Troy and Biagio, the same advice both of you give could and should be given to someone thinking about getting into marketing as a profession as well. I know I have given pretty much the same advice to marketing newbies. I’ve talked to marketing classes and said similar stuff to them. In fact, I cannot think of a career where your advice wouldn’t apply. Can you? While I am not in the TV industry (yet), I cannot see why the reality of it would be different from any other industry.

      HOWEVER, I do understand why the public thinks the TV industry is different and that is largely because of the fantasy that the industry itself puts out. The fantasy of something for nothing. The waitress who is discovered in the corner diner and becomes a movie star overnight. Everyone and their aunt in the entertainment industry who have become successful talking about the lucky breaks they got, how God was on their side, and/or how their talent couldn’t be ignored. How many celebrities do you know who have worked hard for many years to get where they’re at told the public that fact? Very very few. No, the entertainment industry feeds the public this fantasy of easy riches.

      Is it then really that surprising that those wanting to get into TV think it is different than the image the industry has been presenting for decades upon decades?

      Yes, you two are helping to correct that. Troy’s book and this blog and Biagio’s blog and his podcast. But you two are VERY unusual for your industry. I know as I have tried to find more like you two and so far I’ve come up with ZIP. Nothing. Nada. A big empty cupboard except for you two coffee cups.

      But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should go real easy on clueless newbies. No, they should have done what I’ve done myself and thoroughly researched the industry they’re trying to break into. BUT what I do think is that you two should be more understanding of why the newbies think this way and even cut them some slack since it is your own industry that has been feeding them the fantasy.

      That and keep putting out blogs like this and Biagio’s, books like Troy’s, and podcasts like Biagio’s. And realize that you two are fighting your own industry. You’re peeling back the glossy cover to show the dirty, oily, hot engine underneath. I wouldn’t even be surprised if either of you have had people in the entertainment industry tell you that you’re breaking taboos that industry people don’t want broken or thinks shouldn’t be broken. I even wonder if your book played a small part in your dismissal from Basketball Wives, Troy. After all, remember that the First Rule of Fight Club is no one talks about Fight Club. 😉

      1. Jack,

        There’s a difference in being hard on newbies and waging war on entitled amateurs. I’m usually rather kind to the uninformed kid with a show idea until he or she starts dressing me down about interfering with their vision of the yellow brick road to Oz. I’ve tried for quite some time to respond to all the personal correspondence I get, but when people start wanting to tilt the lance at someone on the inside, I reserve the right to call them out on it no matter what the poor souls think of Mark Burnett supposedly being discovered while selling tee shirts or anything else. Screenwriter Ted Elliott pretty much read me the riot act on a few things early in my career, and rewrote that part of my brain in an afternoon. Give it to people straight, say I.

        Chad Gervich’s lecture with the TV Writers Summit is like a colonic for the newbie brain, which is one reason why we love that he goes first in the speaking rotation. He’s done reality and traditional scripted alike, and if you read his stuff, I think you’ll find him to be at least one more coffee cup in the reality cupboard.

        I can’t speak for Joke and Biagio, but I haven’t experienced backlash over the book from the industry, mostly as I don’t sensationalize anything or talk much about specific shows I have worked on. Also, I am usually defending reality in interviews, not blasting it. I see the book on execs’ shelves often, even more so on the desks of assistants. No animosity there.

        The change at Basketball Wives didn’t have anything to do with the book, which had been out for more than two years when BBW and I called it a day after five seasons and three of the LA spinoff. I’ve even spoken with Shed about other projects as recently as the top of this year. Changes of personnel are common, as you well know, in ANY industry when leadership changes up. Jeff Olde had just left VH1, and my old boss, Alex Demyanenko, had just left Shed. The timing was right, and I can hardly complain about three solid years of good work coming to a close under new management on both ends. It freed me up for HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT and an unannounced BBC effort, working out for the best.

        The real thing we never talk about in this business is how we all secretly believe that there are mind-control drugs in the breakroom Red Vines. Why are they so ubiquitous, and why do we crave them? (Ominous organ chord here)

      2. Troy,

        Thanks for the tip! I went to chadgervich.com and found a link to his Script articles. I’ll start reading through them tomorrow. I looked at his two books at Amazon. Probably won’t get the one about agents but did just now purchase the Kindle version of “Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business.” Once I get through all his Script articles, I will tackle the book.

        And I’m glad to hear that hasn’t been any backlash from your book and that you’ve found it on bookshelves of those in the industry. As for Basketball Wives, sorry, but I’m one of your fans so NATURALLY there had to be an unacceptable reason for letting you go. 🙂 But I’m glad you left on good terms and are still in communications with some of the players. I hope you land your next gig soon.

        Oh, and I have been watching your appearances on Film Courage on YouTube. Good stuff!

  2. Thanks, Jack. Means a lot to know you like the Film Courage interviews. I think they did a great job. Several hours of material, so who knows how many shorts they’ll cut from them?

    1. They seemed to do a good job of interviewing you. You do come across as Mr. Scrooge when you explain the realities of reality TV but your smile and the gentle way you put it softens that … a bit. That they interviewed you for hours should mean many many weeks of their short episodes. I look forward to all and try to “Like” each one and put a comment below. 😉

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