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Study the Craft, But also study “The Business”

Filmmakers, screenwriters, novelists and other creative professionals spend countless hours studying their craft, hoping their diligent study and practice will increase their chances of success. And it will, absolutely.

But equally important is the study of the business in which the craft resides. Unfortunately creative professionals often spend far too little time studying their business. Which is a shame since, unless your respective business buys your creative output, you will never be able to sustain life on your creative output.

For filmmakers, screenwriters and pro’s in the many related fields, here are a few free or nearly free resources that are excellent (and often entertaining) resources to learn more about the entertainment BUSINESS. A couple of these are recaps, and a couple are new.

Two excellent screenwriting and writing teachers/consultants resources:

Jen Grisanti’s Podcast – available free on iTunes – Jen was the head of development for Aaron Spelling’s shows including 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. She’s got great insight on what it takes to write for and develop for television – from the writing part to the requirements to successfully pitch for film and TV. Excellent guests include working writers and producers on some of today’s top shows.

Pilar Alessandra’s “OnThePage” Podcast – available on iTunes, some for free, some for a very modest fee. Pilar is also an excellent script consultant and screenwriting instructor whose guests are working feature and TV writers, and others in the film and television business.  Pilar’s podcasts focus on many writing do’s and don’ts, from constructing loglines, to pitching, to the actual writing of scripts.

Pilar and Jen are both excellent writing teachers and script consultants. I have taken seminars from both, and both have helped guide my writing through script consults.

KRCW’s “The Business”  - Los Angeles Public Radio’s show about the business of show business.  Also available through iTunes, “this entertaining half-hour about the people who make entertainment is hosted by Kim Masters, who most recently covered the business for National Public Radio.  She’s served as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Time and Esquire and is the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else and co-author, with Nancy Griffin, of Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood.

John Horn, staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times joins Kim each week for the Hollywood News Banter, a weekly analysis of the entertainment industry’s top stories. He and Masters can also be heard Thursdays at 4:44 on Hollywood Breakdown.” (quoted from the KCRW website).

KRCW’s “The Treatment” – Los Angeles Public Radio’s show about movies and entertainment.  “A “treatment,” in Hollywood parlance, is a concise overview of a screenplay.  On The Treatment, film critic Elvis Mitchell turns the tables and gives the “treatment” to some of the most influential and innovative forces creating movies and popular art and entertainment.

Each week, Elvis speaks with an amazing array of guests, discussing everything from their inner conflicts to their interior design. With a straightforward style that understates his vast knowledge, Elvis is able to extract insights, issues and inspirations from even the most introverted guests. Conversations on The Treatment are mostly comfortable, sometimes contentious, but always fascinating.

Most recently, Elvis was named as the new co-host of Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies, which will begin airing on PBS in January, 2011.” (quoted from the KCRW website).

These four (free) resources provide indispensable knowledge about the entertainment business to the creative professional – knowledge (almost) as critical to success as honing your creative craft.