The Men Who Would Be King: Book Review – The Story of Dreamworks

On a recent trip I picked up “The Men Who Would Be King” by Nicole LaPorte. The book is a story covering the genesis and death of Dreamworks, and stories behind many of the major projects developed there over the years.

The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks

As mentioned on the back of the book, it wouldn’t be surprising if LaPorte struggled getting tables for lunch in Hollywood from here on out after the dirt she dished on the Dreamworks crew. First off I’ll say that I am a huge fan of Hollywood related non-fiction, especially the behind the scenes business stuff, so this was right up my alley. I find it very intriguing to see the politics behind why some projects get greenlit, while other languish in development hell forever.

The Dreamworks founders, Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen, declined to be interviewed for the book so there is no official words from them, but with all of the press coverage, court reports from lawsuits and the like, there was no shortage of information to be shared. LaPorte also says that she interviewed hundreds of people in creating the book, and while second hand accounts can’t always be given the most weight, it did provide for good entertainment.

The ongoing story for Katzenberg was all about his rivalry with Disney after being unfairly fired. He spent the better part of a decade trying to find a way to surpass Disney in animation, and to his credit he turned Dreamworks Animation into a juggernaut, even if it wasn’t free of drama.

The ongoing story for Spielberg was this feeling that this is a man-child of sorts, who was brought into the Hollywood machine young enough, and given everything he ever wanted for so long, that he never really had to learn what it was like not to get things his way. His partners always seemed to be catering to his artistic needs, certainly an unlikely situation for any artist to find themselves in.

Geffen seemed more interested in screwing over his old enemies than in actually achieving anymore success himself. He was already a billionaire when they started the company, so there wasn’t the financial of career motivations as there were for the other two founders.

I really enjoyed this book, and would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the inner workings, and politics of Hollywood. If you’re interested in buying it you can check it out here on Amazon:

The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks

What Do You Do?

We want to start getting some information about who are the people who visit this website. Are you a director? Or an actor? A screenwriter? What do you do, or what do you want to do? Leave us an answer in the comments and it will give us ideas about who we should provide information for.

New Terminator Salvation Trailer

I know this is very late to be talking about this, but the newest Terminator Salvation trailer was released and it made me think about Christian Bale and his outburst on that guy on his set. I’m not sure exactly what the guy did because I only HEARD the altercation, but does anyone deserve that kind of public humiliation? Anyway, just thinking out loud here. Check out the new Terminator Salvation trailer:

The Eternal Question Of All Budding Filmmakers… Where Should I Go For Filmschool?

I received a comment on the blog today from a gentleman by the name of Garrett.  Garrett is wondering where he should go for film school.  I figured I would post my answer to Garrett on the blog for the benefit of everyone else reading.  Hopefully this gives some insight for others.

Hey Garrett,

The type of program you should do really depends on what your goals are.  Different programs have different advantages/disadvantages.

If you go to a shorter program like NYFA of LAFS you will be finished in a year and you can get out there and start working or putting together your own projects right away.  You can (hopefully) start making money sooner, and you don’t have to spend money on tuition/expenses over the course of a full degree program.  These types of programs will get you the technical skills and practical experience so you know how to use the different equipment, but they are pretty light on the theoretical stuff.

If you go to an actual college or university to do a film degree you will have to wait a while before you finish, and it will be a while before you start actually using any equipment.  They will give you a much more intensive theoretical background on film theory, story structure, literature etc.  An advantage here is that there are lots of alumni connections available compared to shorter more technically oriented programs.  Costs are a major concern with this type of program, and the duration will keep you out of the workforce for quite some time.

You need to be clear with yourself what you want to achieve in film, and whether this is really something you want to do because unless it’s something you are really passionate about, there are other professions with more security, better pay, and a lot less stress.  If you’re in it for the money, quite frankly you have a better chance of becoming rich studying business and entrepreneurship.  If you’re not deterred by the ridiculously rigorous work you will inevitably have to do for little to no money at times, then you’ll want to look at these places as options (I have listed just a few, there are of course many many more):

Shorter, more technical schools:
-NYFA (New York Film Academy)
-LAFS (Los Angeles Film School)

Longer, degree programs:
-UofT (Texas)
-FSU (Florida State University)

Another option of course is to just teach yourself by doing it, pick up Robert Rodriguez’s book “Rebel Without a Crew” for inspiration.

There is no easy answer to this unfortunately.  This business more than almost any other actually, is about grinding it out if you want to be a success.  If you are willing to stick it out longer than the other guy, and continually improve yourself, you have a good shot.

All the best,

Emmet Gibney

Independent Directors Daws Brothers First Feature Released On DVD

It’s important for people in the independent film world to support each other, and especially so when they are your friends!  Well my friends the Daws Brothers have released their first feature film Dangerous Calling on DVD and I have already ordered my copy.

Dangerous Calling Poster

I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t give you my opinion yet, but from the conversations I have had with Josh and Jeremiah I can tell they know their stuff, and one of the biggest things I have noticed from my conversations with them is that they get the fact that you aren’t just born good at this stuff, you need to put in lots of time. They told me how they have shot so many bad shorts, and written so many bad scripts before they started to get better.

I think that attitude is going to take these guys places, because if you have the full understanding that you need to grind it out to make it in this business, I’m convinced you can make it. I’m actually really excited to see where their careers head, I think they could end up making some waves in Hollywood someday, and if you buy their first DVD then you’ll have helped them do it! So buy their DVD now : )

Howcast Emerging Filmmakers Program

I was introduced to an interesting new website recently called Howcast. The website is similar to YouTube and other online video sites in that the content is uploaded by a community of users, however the twist is that Howcast specializes in “How-To” videos. They want people to upload all sorts of videos instructing people how to do different things and they also have some funny videos like “How To Compete With Your Boyfriend’s Video Games” if you’re interested in something more entertaining.

Howcast has a program for filmmakers called “Howcast Emerging Filmmakers Program” where you can basically look for assignments to shoot, edit and upload. If you’re lucky and your video gets a lot of views, they’ll share the revenue from the advertising with you. I haven’t had much time to look into this program in much depth, but if you’re a starving artist it might not be such a bad way to get some cash and have some opportunities to work on your reel.