Meet Graham Flashner - Senior Writer/Producer

How to Get a Job in Hollywood Insiders with Insights (New Addition)
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Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to the new edition in this mentoring cause insider insights. So what this is basically is that I will be talking to in meeting with some film industry veterans and players in the Hollywood scene and asking about how they got in and experiences when they first got started. Kind of like you guys right now. And you interview about 15 minutes or so will be released every quarter. So stay tuned for that. And once again, if you have any questions about any of the interviewees or just about the course in general, feel free to post them on the q&a board.

Happy learning. Hello, so I hope all as well on your end today. We have here Graham, why don't you just introduce yourself and what you do and stuff like that. Hi, my name is Graham flattener am a writer and producer who has worked in TV movies and Reality television and also entertainment journalism, currently working more in reality TV, but that's not obviously how it started since reality, it's fairly new. But yes, I started out in doing scripted work. And the way I broke in was as a script reader, cool.

Reading feature screenplays for an independent film company in New York. Nice. So how was that night? Did you enjoy it? Or did you kind of wished it was very enjoyable, very educational because reading scripts is a great way to see why a screenplay works and also what mistakes writers are making one of the biggest mistakes. The only downside of course, is that when you read too many scripts at one time, you can acquire bad habits just by reading too much stuff.

Things you're not supposed to be doing. But fortunately That was only a temporary position. And then I moved into development where I was running the story department, and I was hiring the readers. So that's much better. Why is how long does it take to get to that stage from a script reading to getting to development? It was just like three days.

Oh, doesn't it doesn't happen that quickly. Yeah. Okay. No, I think I started reading scripts in 87. And then in 89, I became director of development for the company. They moved out to Los Angeles, they opened up an LA office in addition to their New York office, so I moved out with them to LA.

Unfortunately, the company then went under six months after I got there, and no, this had nothing to do with me. But they made the wrong choice of films. So I then wound up being hired by CBS. Okay, yes TV in Los Angeles and became head of the storyboard. Wherever there. And that's a whole different thing.

You know? It's hard to believe now 25 years ago, but TV movies 25 years ago were incredibly big. And CBS was making 50 to 60 a year. Wow. Yeah, I think so. So I'm curious, like, because some of our students from all over the world, and you might be thinking that oh, you know, I have to get to Los Angeles in order to make it.

So you start in New York. So I want to, I want to dive deeper into, like, the comparison between the New York scene and the LA scene and if there's a difference in your opinion. Well, I mean, like, if you want to be in a film industry, there's a huge difference. Yeah, it's say that you can't make it from New York. I mean, look, people do it. But I think the majority of people will tell you that, if you're serious about it, you're gonna have to spend some time out here in Los Angeles.

I mean, there's just triple the amount of production going on. triple the amount of companies, the agents, you know, over presentation. And then the contacts. I mean, the people that you meet out here, there's just a lot more of them. But again, I'm not saying that, you know, you can't find your breaks and make it in New York, this great film schools in New York, and there's great production companies and producers in New York. The volume just can't be compared.

Hmm, that makes sense. Okay, so why writing initially? I mean, what, of all the things you could do in film? Why did you pick that? What was it like a passion thing? Or was there something that you kind of studies where you can do that?

And how did you get to that point? Well, I was always writing I mean, even from a young age, I was writing like, even stories from my elementary school class. I was making stuff up. I was doing a lot of comedy. And I don't know for me because films were so influential growing up. That format just really appealed to me.

I mean, I used to think that I thought very visually, I was always editing stuff in my head. And I thought that was is a great way to marry my writing interests with my visual interest. And the format just seems so inventive. There are so many ways to tell a story. And like, for example, a big influence on me was the woody allen movie Annie Hall, which for its time on a narrative sense was so inventive. I mean, think about what's in that movie, there's flashbacks, there's flash forwards, there's animation, there's people breaking forth while I'm talking to the camera.

That whole movie had like everything you could do with in a film. So it really appealed to me. So I started writing screenplays. Ah, interesting. So I kind of okay, this is probably be cut off, but I've kind of moved my little video there. But you know, a apologies if you saw my face was being blocked by something to the students.

All right, anyway. Okay, so was there a memorable time during your initial years? Was there a story that you would remember or like a coffee fairy tale from from the things. Well, I mean, there's always cautionary tales, the most memorable time. The most memorable time I think was seeing the first script that I ever wrote or actually covered in this case, seeing that actually being shot. I think there's nothing like the first day of shooting, when a writer sees their words actually being filmed, and put on camera.

That was a pretty amazing experience. And in my case, it was a TV movie called adrift. It was a sailboat thriller, and Kate Jackson was the star. And she was it was technically her comeback movie, at the time in 92. And we were out in New Zealand, you know, thousands of miles away from everything. And I was working for CBS at the time.

And it was just a fantastic feeling. We were just kind of like making this film nobody watching and just to see those words, you know, spoken was fantastic now the cautionary tale on that same movie. We, I'll try and cut this down really short. But we had a scene with Kate Jackson that the line producer made us cut in half because of budgetary reasons. And we thought Kate Jackson had approved it, but she apparently didn't remember reading it on the day of shooting, which was about three o'clock in the morning with 100 extras standing around. She started looking at the pages and going this doesn't make any sense.

What did you guys do? And I noticed that the line producer who'd made us cut he had retreated into the background he was gone. So leaving my co writer and I on the firing line, leaving us to be verbally abused for about the next 20 minutes, scripting scenes on napkins trying to appease her. So the cautionary tale there is when you're working with stars, and your line producer or somebody else comes in and insists that you cut down a scene that the star is two people You better make sure the star is on board, or else you could have big problems. Oh, man, that's uh, wow. Interesting.

Interesting. So, okay, so you've been in this for a while. I'm curious like when did you realize that you made you major break? Right you had that break? When was that moment that epiphany that you notice? Oh, okay, I'm actually in the so called in crowd right now.

Yeah, in that break. I don't know they've ever actually been in the in crowd. Crowd usually wouldn't have me as a member, but I don't know I think making making the leap from just being development exec to, you know, writing producing that movie and then getting a production deal with the company that wound up signing us after that movie adrift, which was Atlantis films which became a Mayans Atlantis but that period of time And this is all through the 90s when my partner and I were really developing movies and working to get them on screen, I think was probably when I felt most like, Okay, I'm in this, I'm doing this, it was the right time to be doing it. The industry was right at its apex. So that was, uh, that was very good time. Nice.

Okay, so how is life like now for you? As a writer and a producer, compared to back then, I mean, probably it's probably the same casino I don't know. But But describe like, your life now, senior accomplished kind of compared to Baghdad? Well, it's been tough because they have been walking the streets of Sunset Boulevard over the sign that says we'll write for where things have gotten a little bit. No kidding. Well, it's hard to compare because I'm in a different part of the industry right now.

Reality television, which, you know, I can't say is a huge advancement over what I was doing. It's just, it's just different. But I'm still trying to get back into scripted, I'm still, you know, writing scripts and optioning stories and just like anybody else trying to try to get projects made but it's just a very, you know, you have to have a lot of good luck to fall through a lot of things, you know, have to break. But in reality I've worked in you know, right now over two dozen shows. So I've been going from show to show as a writer producer, and you know, again, when you get a good show, that can also be very rewarding and a lot of fun. And just, it really depends what you want to be doing.

I mean, if I'm, I was going to give advice to anybody watching this as a young person, it's really focus on one thing that you're really good at. Don't try and be like five things to five different people. Concentrate on that one niche and say, I'm going to do this you know, you want to be a writer, go out and pursue that. If you want to be a director take the steps necessary to do that. writing and directing is great you can do both but again Don't try to spread yourself all over the place because I've seen people do that where they're trying to be attractive in every facet. I can do this I can do that.

I've also been a production diner I must find your locate your niche. Why do people want to hire you? You know why you What do you bring that nobody else brings? right sorry, little tangent there, but it's okay. We're actually gonna reach the end of this video anyway. So But yeah, I definitely agree because even though I like doing other stuff for me, if I kind of spread my resources out to you know, I, I'm gonna do directing, writing, blah, blah, blah.

I probably would not have gotten all those projects in visual effects, which is why you say makes sense because what even though I like those things, what I really love Was visual effects. So that's what that was my niche. They're focused on patches. So, so yeah, that totally makes sense. So And on that note, any final last words? Killing me here.

Okay, final last word. Well, I'll say this then. Again, it's a students, you're gonna hear a lot of people say no. in your life all through. No, no, no every single day and you have to really put that aside and only find the person who can say yes, because even if it's one person out of 100, who say no, that one yes could change your life and your career. And you make you'll forget all those notes.

But don't get discouraged if you have a dream pursue it. But if you're really just really ask yourself why you're in the business why you're doing this, if it's, if you're not doing it because you really love what you're doing. ie if you're doing it because you like the glamour or you want to be unset you want to get my paycheck. That's the wrong reason to be. Because it's not easy to do it because you really have to do it. Your stories you have to tell.

And don't let anybody discourage you. Fantastic. That's great. All right. So you've been in the industry for Hello. I'm about 85 years.

Now, I've been in the industry, I guess. Well, I can't believe it. It's going on like 30 but 30 years. Oh, wow. Yeah. Okay.

30. Yes. So yeah, it was a pleasure speaking to you. Well, a pleasure speaking with you as well. And good luck to all your students. Yes.

And if you have any questions, call her not me. Okay.

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