The Women of Cinematic Arts organization hosted its "WCA Industry Forum 2009" at the University of Southern California last weekend.
I attended solo with the eagerness to meet many others in my industry. When I arrived, I checked in and grabbed some organic coffee they were offering. As I looked for an empty spot to sit, I was ferociously attacked by a ginormous bird who wanted my danish. Jerk. I heard Chelsea laughing and that was my new best friend. Chelsea is currently a writer for the new animation television show "Angelina Ballerina" on Nickelodeon.
Visual Effects Seminar / Robert Downey, Jr.
We attended the first seminar on Visual Effects. I partially wanted to learn about the people who worked in that part of the industry and partially wanted to be in the same room as Robert Downey, Jr. Yes...he was there. His wife, Susan Downey, was a producer on "Gothika" and the new "Sherlock Holmes." She was talking about her experience on her various films. They all joked about how actors can't stand to work in front of a green screen for days on end. Then, of course, we all turned to Mr. Robert. It was awesome!
As far as what I learned in the seminar, not much. I don't know enough about visual effects to have truly appreciated what they were saying, or understand what they were saying!
Here are two pictures I took from my seat. Susan is the second woman from the left. Robert Downey, Jr. was sitting one row behind me and two seats to the left. Yes. It was cool.
We were starving, so once Robert Downey, Jr. exited the room, we all ran to the nice organic lunch that was served outside.
On a side note...I need to get on the bandwagon on all of this organic food. It tastes so good and is so good for you!
Social Media / Mark Burnett Productions
The next seminar was on Social Media. Attending the event were representatives from ABC, Style Network, General Hospital Nightshift, and American Idol. David Goffin, producer on American Idol, actually worked with Mark Burnett Productions when he first started out. Of course, I ran up to meet him immediately after the event and introduced myself.
The purpose of the seminar was to discuss the marriage of tv and the web. David's first words: you will not make money on the web, so stop trying! It was so funny and so real. No one is going to pay for media they could get off the television or somewhere else for free. Hulu for example is my new obsession. I watch everything on there because I do not have cable nor the ability to schedule my life around a television show. Plus, it's free!
The key to bringing an audience to a media website is to develop that audience via a television network, then give them extras (value) when they arrive at the media website. This is what Ugly Betty (ABC) and NightShift (General Hospital) did. MadMen, on the other hand, did not put any extras on their website that a viewer could not learn from the television show itself. MadMen chose to do this because their target market are older viewers who do not generally use the internet. These were two very different ways of incorporating web and television -- and depending on their target market either one can be the right way.
Getting Out There: How to Get & Work with an Agent
The final seminar discussed agents and their agency, a topic I knew very little about. Everyone on the panel was hysterical. They talked as if we were all having lunch together. They shared crazy stories, horror stories, and success stories. The key is to be incredibly organized, which I've tried to be, and keep up the creative work. Pretty much, keep writing and developing so your agent has many ways of selling you. Last bit of advice? Go work at an agency. Okay, I'm working on that!
One of the funnier stories they shared was the description of the "bottle water tour." This is when you are networking yourself and meeting many different people at their office. While you are sitting in the lobby waiting for your meeting, the receptionist offers you a bottle of water. Therefore after each meeting, you walk out with a different bottle of water that you then throw in the backseat of your car ... The Bottle Water Tour!! This is of course assuming you do not clean out your car after all of your meetings each day.
The low-key, relaxed feeling of the last seminar was a great way to end the event. I would have liked all the seminars to be as informal as the last one because I felt like we were all having a conversation. I learned the most because it was so open to discussion.
The WCA ended the night with an open bar and raffles. I won a School of Cinematic Arts hat which was awesome and had some wine. All in all a great night!