Breaking Into Hollywood by Veteran Producer Gary W. Goldstein
This was originally written by Rebecca Norris.
I was honored to have the opportunity to sit down with veteran producer and literary manager Gary W. Goldstein (Pretty Woman, Under Siege, The Mothman Prophecies). In this two-part interview, Gary gives incredibly helpful advice about networking and relationship building, talks in-depth about his amazing career, and introduces his newest venture, Breaking Into Hollywood, an online Master Course for writers on networking, branding, pitching, taking meetings, and breaking into the business. The Master Course has an accompanying show on YouTube, where Gary interviews other industry veterans, who discuss their careers and give fantastic tips that can help both new and established screenwriters.
REBECCA: What got you into managing writers and producing?
GARY: The short version – when I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, a very different world, a more provincial, conservative world, a world where I was an attorney, and where I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing, and also getting a great background, a really solid piece of my foundation. But I wasn’t living. I was not excited in the morning. And I thought, well, if not this, then what? It wasn’t like I had this dream of going into movies when I was really young; I didn’t. What I did have was a love of literature and I was a fan of film. I loved a good film, but I was a big reader. I loved storytelling.
Sometimes we all look at our families and go, “How did I birth myself into this environment?” I loved my family, but we’re not alike at all. I was this daydreamer. The reason I went to law school was because I was afraid that if I didn’t ground myself literally, if I did not learn an adult language and get some adult skills that were recognizable in the marketplace of humanity, that I would be eternally lost in this sort of wormhole of daydreaming. I was the essential daydreamer. My family was amazed by me. I was literally disconnected conversationally, circumstantially from whatever was going on. I was lost in my inner world. And that was – I don’t know, chicken and egg. Was it because I fell in love with literature and it inspired my own creativity or was I just drawing from it and leaving that a little bit further on my own? I don’t know. I was a daydreamer, but there was no profession called “Daydream.”
REBECCA: There isn’t? You can’t get a degree in that?
GARY: Had there been a way to earn an income and have a profession and a business card that said ‘Professional Daydreamer,’ that’s what I would have become. So from my perch in San Francisco, where there was no meaningful entertainment industry of any kind, my first stab was music; when I was an undergrad at UC-Berkeley, I produced concerts. Music did not at that time seem the right fit for me. So long story short, as I recognized that being an attorney, as a pursuit was not going to deeply satisfy, my focus shifted to the Southland.
It was a new world, that storytelling world that is film and television, and God, I didn’t know the vernacular, I did not know the size of it, the shape of it, who was in it, what they did, I didn’t know people in LA; there was a magnetic pull. And I thought, if there’s something that would be a better fit for me, that seems like that might be it.
So I came down here [to Los Angeles] and did not want to be a lawyer. I was very clear about the things I didn’t want. I’m not a ladder-climber, I’m not a good corporate or group player, every member of my family on both sides had always been entrepreneurs, pretty much none of them when into their father’s business, they all started something of their own. So I had this idea, naturally, that it was in the natural order of things that you strike out on your own and you build something. That was kind of all I’d seen. I did not know what that meant; I’d never done it. So I moved here with this very innocent notion of how the world might work.
When I arrived I realized very quickly that I was unemployable; partially because I had no network, I didn’t know anyone, partially because I didn’t have any understanding of the business. I’d never been in it; I’d never read about it, I didn’t know what the contours of it were. I didn’t even know where the studios and networks were located or what the job titles were. I’d never read a screenplay.
So there was a lot to learn. A neighbor, the former CEO of Columbia Pictures Television, one of the smartest, funniest guys I’ve ever known. We took a liking to one another and he sent me on meetings to all the bigwigs in all the major studios. Mostly whoever was sitting at the very top at what was called Business and Legal Affairs at each of the studios, I met with them or someone equally important.
REBECCA: Wow, that’s serendipitous.
GARY: I was in my heavy wool San Francisco lawyer suits in an un-air conditioned car, driving and getting lost on the freeways of southern California in the dead of summer, sweating bullets – literally – trying to find my way – metaphorically and literally – and finding myself in these massive, back then, massive offices – this was old Hollywood. And I’m with these very elegantly presented and dressed, very successful individuals running the studios. I had no idea how to have a conversation with them, but they were all great and gracious because I was referred in the door by someone they really knew and admired.
Read the full article on Scriptmag.com
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