LOS ANGELES – Hollywood producer Gary Goldstein has been behind some of the biggest box office hits in cinema. His films, such as Pretty Woman , Under Siege and the Mothman Prophecies have collectively grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, receiving numerous Academy Award nominations, People’s Choice Awards, a Golden Globe and other awards.
Gary’s expertise covers a wide range of areas with his work in philanthropy, as a speaker, author and consultant and is a go to person for the Hollywood A list.
Interview with Gary Goldstein
Iain: How did you get your first feature made?
Gary: Every problem or obstacle is merely an opportunity in disguise, and that was certainly true when the WGA (Writers Guild of America) went on strike in 1988. That strike lasted the better part of a year, inflicted grievous harm economic and otherwise not only on the Hollywood production communities of film and television, but on the economies of Los Angeles and California.
During that time, mostly everyone was in the grip of fear, not able to work, not able to generate income or move their projects forward. No one was buying, the studios and networks simply shut down all production.
I saw an opportunity to shift gears and produce a low-budget indie film. At the time, I had my own literary management company representing writers and directors. So I called one of my writer clients and asked him if he wanted to direct his first film. We dusted off an older low-budget script of his, I went out and raised enough to cover a very modest budget (approximately $200k) and I became the film’s producer.
We prepped, cast, crewed, shot and post-produced that film in exactly four weeks. We had an internal deadline, because that client, J.F. Lawton a complete unknown at the time and I were accepted to Sundance’s production lab with a script then-titled 3000. That script later got produced and released as Pretty Woman.
So the moral of the story is simple. Take action, do your passion, believe in yourself and what’s possible. That little indie Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death jump-started my producing career and I’ve never looked back. Today, with all the technology and options available to us, anyone can make a short or feature film if they’re truly committed.
Iain: What do you believe is the most important asset to have in order to be successful?
Gary: Relationships. Period.
Yes, persistence and pig-headedness are critical. Taking consistent persistent daily action is imperative. And all that must in large measure be focused on the goal of creating rapport and relationship with your Top 100 list, the people you want to thank some day when you’re standing on stage, accepting an award, and acknowledging all those without whom you wouldn’t be standing there.
Who are the people across all the landscape of film or TV you need to strategically target and get into relationship with, to set you apart and set you up for an enduring success ? To create a career, and not be at the whim and mercy of circumstance and prayer ?
Agents, managers, producers, script consultants, executives, directors, attorneys all form and manner of life forms in the eco-system of Hollywood that will increasingly make up your network and your team.
I’ve a simple theory that 100 significant relationships across these diverse populations are all one needs to create a meaningful career and business. Set aside 30 minutes every day and this is gospel for your research, goal-setting (not destinations, but action steps), your step-by-step marketing plan, for reaching out to people via email and phone.
Who are they ? How do you approach them ? How do you build in a specific yet easily achievable call to action and followup into every initial conversation ? These and other precise, very do-able strategies are the exact things that separate out those who are committed to success, and who ultimately succeed.
These, along with a myriad of concrete strategies the very ones I’ve used to build careers for my former clients, as well as to build my own career, are the stuff of my courses, mastermind group, teleseminar all the mentoring I do.
Why? Because I believe those with talent need to un-learn old mindsets and behaviors the ones we’ve all been taught and get on the path to their success. Stop believing it’s just about your script or project, or that it’s simply a matter of getting an agent. It’s about you, and the relationships you can create – initiating a minimum of one per week. You’re the value add , the reason people will hire you, option you, finance you, produce you. Know how to do this effectively and it becomes a natural, comfortable habit. In as little as 6 to 12 months, you’ll have created a real, exciting, viable foundation for a far bigger future and career.
Iain: What does it take to get your foot in the door as a screenwriter?
Gary: A stubborn streak, intelligent marketing habits, an action plan that is clear, specific and measurable. I’ll mention one very specific item in a long list of strategies and that’s to befriend the gatekeepers the assistants in film and television, at studios and agencies, at management and production companies.
When you understand their mindset, how to effectively communicate with them, what not to do or say, what specific types of advice, tasks, favors, actions you can ask at the outset (enabling you to nurture your rapport and grow a relationship ), you’ll have mastered a key strategy that will massively reduce frustration and cut years off your success curve .
The assistants are a culture unto themselves, and knowing how to work that system will pay dividends far beyond the individual on the other end of your phone line.
Iain: How did you build your network of contacts?
Gary: Relentless networking to zero in on those worthy of the time and effort needed to build meaningful relationships. Wherever I went film festivals, the local coffee shop, the gym I would engage people in conversation. It’s amazing what you discover the unexpected relationships others enjoy, and their natural willingness to help if you approach people openly and authentically.
Another key is, at all costs, to avoid asking a favor. Instead, seek advice.
There’s no quicker way to learn, to honor another, to make people actively want to help you than to respect their knowledge and experience, subconsciously or consciously placing them in the role of mentor.
And yes, mentors are a non-negotiable mandate. Get thee a mentor. Better yet, identify various mentors with different expertise. When I recognized the void, my lack of mentors, I course-corrected and it’s made all the difference. I have enjoyed and will for the rest of my life have mentors.
Similarly, join or create masterminds. Surround yourself with committed, smart people hopefully those who’ve been through it and are more successful and make them a part of your inner circle, your feedback loop, your trusted advisors.
Today, social media has opened the door wide. So much can be done faster, smarter, more effectively (beginning) online. Take advantage, put your message and goals out for others to see, join groups, get known.
Iain: What kind of projects are you working on at the moment?
Gary: I’m in the midst of several projects, all in various states of readiness.
I’m just completing a capital raise for an indie that we’ll shoot on high-definition for a mid-six figure budget. We’ve an innovative distribution model and I’m as excited about this little film as any I’ve been involved with in the past. The opportunity for quality storytelling has never been greater, but the need to be brilliant to stand out from the crowd has likewise never been more essential.
Technology is shifting, opening up significant opportunities. How we finance, produce and distribute films is also changing rapidly. Likewise, more talent is available to work on smart, independent projects than ever before.
This particular film which I’ll produce with an extraordinary partner – is a story set in the midst of one of the most powerfully positive youth movements to come along in modern time and has exquisite music and dance elements to boot. Beyond that, you’ll have to wait and see ! Mum’s the word.
To find out more about Gary : http://garywgoldstein.com