79 / an afternoon in hollywood
My mate Judi is the best. She is the world’s greatest listener, champion friend, creative powerhouse, manager and juggler of family and career. She’s a film producer with an embarrassment of credits. She is patient with what some might call my new-kid-on-the-block-over-enthusiasm-for-life, for film, for breathing. She does not allow me to exhaust her. She is never judgey, nor I of her. Instead we build on one another. She is my role model, my confidante, my sounding board on all aspects of my writing and my life. Can you sense my gratitude for having someone like Judi in my life? Cos I am, profoundly grateful.
Judi lives the life based in her 1912 original, Arts and Crafts home, pretty much on the beach in Santa Monica. There are surf boards on the verandah. Her street is dotted with other film makers – good ones, ones who can afford the address. Her dining room table is an epi-centre for casting and script development, budgets, cheese and biscuits and countless cups of tea. I love being in this orbit.
Judi also happens to drive a huge old Jag that I refer to as The Floating Lounge Room. With hints of leather and heat there’s something about this car that is conducive to conversations that open the world up rather than shut it down. So when Judi invited me to drive to Beverly Hills and spend an afternoon attending a WIMPs session – what do you reckon I said?
So there we were on a warm Saturday afternoon, in The Loungeroom, floating along the streets of LA. This particular session for Women in Motion Pictures was the sort where chicks rock up to the foyer of a big legal firm - a proud supporter of female film talent - with a plate of stuff to share. Chips, nuts and dip and bits of celery are the backdrop for crazy-ass networking. Then everyone is called to attention, stops to listen to a dude share his recipe for growing online audiences – which if you’re interested, I have attached at the base of this piece **. His theory was not earth shattering, but it happens to work for him and he clearly flies around the hood sharing his gold.
As the dude talks, people take notes at speed and occasionally interrupt to ask rather brilliant, skillfully poised, self-focused questions - the type of questions that intelligent people ask when they are serious about their careers and sense an opportunity to grasp a missing part of their own unique puzzle. The questions were unrestrained, off the cuff and posed by confident, verbally polished Americans, women who are comfortable to assert in public a gap in their personal knowledge. Their manner made this Australian sit back in awe and while wishing I had such lightning quick confidence, my mind wandered to what it would take for me to be like them, I suspect I missed a number of dazzling responses. Brilliant Q and A over, it was back to crazy networking.
I meet a screenwriter from South Sudan who is working on a piece about being a screenwriter from South Sudan. She was so stunningly beautiful that as we were about to part I felt compelled to drop this observation casually into our conversation and in doing so she begins to cry. We hugged and chatted about the difficulties of truly looking in a mirror. I meet an Aussie actress who had just arrived, after winning a Green Card in the lottery and cleverly thought this might be a smart place to meet people. She was right. Go her. I meet numerous podcasters and youtubers and writers and producers and lawyers and all-round, I’d surmise the general energy of this afternoon superbly positively charged.
It was by this stage, my head and heart were on fire. This moment was just so damned good. Here I was in Hollywood, surrounded by female film makers, hanging out over seriously focussed conversation. This here was Show Business and in stating this I deliberately place an unashamed focus on the notion of Business. In Australia, these types of networking occasions are more clubby, they are opportunities for industry peps to band together to bemoan the role and life of the self-employed artist. These are times when we debate just how free is the free in Freelance. Overall we come together to share our anger on Show Art, listing our success, or lack there of in regards to recent funding applications with Arts council or screen agencies. Show Art, not Show Business.
Whereas in this room, surrounded by WIMPs, business was tangible and the concept that the best creativity engines in film are fueled by a spark, a brilliant idea that must be honoured, supported and nurtured, cos from little things, big things grow. And this was a room of dreams and potentially big things. And it was sexy.
Judi and I floated home. We drank tea around the dining room table, while watching videos on YouTube, debating if Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows are a distraction. If my time in LA fills my creative heart, it’s friends like Judi who fill my soul. We both voted affirmative on the issue of the eyebrows.
How to grow an online audience according to a dude from Hollywood, so it must be right.
Find our the anxieties, the triggers of your audience.
Distill it to one word.
Make a list of ten online places where this audience finds solace/answers for this anxiety. ie where do they go to read stuff on their issue - blogs, forums, websites etc.
Create the following content and use hashtags, links and guests posts on the topic to sew yourself as an expert in the area and a font of all answers.
7 Instagram posts per day
3 articles per week
1 video per week
Find a corner in which to rock forward and back with exhaustion creating all this stuff that is taking precious time away from doing what you love - writing/making brilliant stuff for screen.
Ok, I admit it, I added that last point in….but OH! Come on already!