The smartest Hollywood aspirants know that they stand on the shoulders of giants: the innovators, the game-changers, and the visionaries who, by thinking outside the box, managed to turn industry into art.
Occasionally, through perseverance and a little bit of luck, a newbie can find him or herself working alongside a Hollywood icon. One day you’re glued to the TV in your parents’ living room watching I Love Lucy, the next, Lucille Ball is complimenting you on your comic instincts. Martin Scorsese was your film school’s most celebrated alumnus, now he’s dissecting classic cinema for you between takes.
These were the extraordinary experiences of future writer-producer, Billy Van Zandt, and future literary agent, Nancy Nigrosh. The essays “I Stalk Lucy,” and “Master Class on Mulberry Street” document not only their hunger to learn from the greats, but the greats’ generosity in mentoring them. Discover how lives were forever changed in THE WAY WE WORK: ON THE JOB IN HOLLYWOOD.
When a production team is assembled, two of the director’s key supporting players are the cinematographer and the editor. They are artists who help shape the look and tone of the entire film.
Cinematographer Steven Fierberg sees his profession as an ongoing quest to create art and beauty. Before shooting frame one, he reads the script several times and records whatever visual ideas are triggered by the material. He then searches through images of paintings, photographs, fashion photos, or films he’s seen and presents his images and ideas to the director so they can move toward a unified vision of the film.
Editor Steven Cohen describes his job as taking the thousands of shots created by the director, actors, and crew, and shaping them into a coherent whole that reveals character and tells a story with rhythm and feeling. Like the cinematographer, the editor steeps himself in the script in order to understand each scene, character and the relationships between them.
Read all about their paths to success in the upcoming anthology, THE WAY WE WORK: ON THE JOB IN HOLLYWOOD. This July, from Rare Bird Books.
Whether striving to create suspense, laughter, or tears, there is no film or television without a narrative that successfully engages an audience. But how does one go about unearthing and crafting a story that resonates? Academy Award–Winner Robert Towne explores the challenges inherent in making that crucial connection. Mega-hyphenate J. J. Abrams recounts his journey from geeky kid doing magic tricks to serious storyteller.Coming this July, The Way We Work: On the Job in Hollywood. From Rare Bird Books.
Hairstylist Roxanne-Baker Sarver tells us that “People outside this business have no idea what my day consists of, no matter how many times I explain the hours or my schedule or how unglamorous it all is. “What do you mean you have to work on Tuesday? Don’t they know it’s Passover?” “What on earth could you be doing till 11:00 at night?”
Script Supervisor Catherine Cobb recounts her work on a horror film that involved shooting for seven straight days in the snow. “I’ve never been so cold and tired in my life.”
Part of Animal Trainer Cathy Pittman’s job was to release flies on James Woods while he was sitting on the toilet.
Talk about needing a nap…
Read all about the sleep-deprived lives of Hollywood professionals in the new anthology, THE WAY WE WORK: ON THE JOB IN HOLLYWOOD
Despite increasing corporate mergers and bottom-line thinking, the entertainment business will never function like a bank or an insurance company because it is an industry rooted in imagination. Rules are meant to be broken. The best work is often produced in an environment where plans change by the minute and nothing seems to make sense. To wit, those who choose this profession must alter preconceived notions of work itself, sometimes discovering that fantasy and horror describe both movie genres and life on the job. The phenomenon crosses class lines: From the writers, directors, and producers to the lawyers, agents, studio executives, and crew and right down to the porta-potty suppliers.
The Way We Work: On the Job in Hollywood provides a window into the skill sets and the insanity that make movies and television tick. Essays by award-winning writers, directors, and producers chronicle the process and the obstacles facing those at the top of the creative food chain. Oral histories from executives to “below-the-line” workers describe life in the trenches, which often present as Stud’s Terkel’s Working–on acid.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling our talented contributors, keeping you posted on the pub date (tentatively, July 9), and giving you the scoop on the exciting book events we have planned.
Back in the day, when studios or networks wanted to lure someone they perceived to be a “hot” television writer, they’d look at you with a straight face and say things like “We want to be in the Bruce Ferber business.” Once, when a deal I had was about to be renewed, my agent called to proudly inform me: “They’re already in bed with you. Now they want to get you pregnant.”
Is it any wonder I turned to writing books? After twenty-plus years writing and producing television comedy (most of them positive), I branched out into fiction, penning the novels “Elevating Overman” and “Cascade Falls.” They’re not detective stories. They’re not Victorian romances. They’re about real people trying to negotiate a world capable of producing someone like Ted Cruz. Relax. He’s not in these books. Just code for all that we’re up against.
My forthcoming book represents an affectionate return to where I started. As editor of the non-fiction anthology, “The Way We Work: On The Job in Hollywood,” I’ve culled 41 contributors from all aspects of the entertainment business to recount their individual tales from the job site. These unique mini-memoirs make for reading that is alternately hilarious, sobering, and downright inspiring. Coming July 2019 from Rare Bird Books.
And for those following with a scorecard… I never did get pregnant.
To keep up with my current reproductive status, as well as news about the book’s release date, please join my email list at www.bruceferber.net
Excited to announce that my non-fiction anthology, THE WAY WE WORK: ON THE JOB IN HOLLYWOOD, will be published by Rare Bird Books, July 2019. Tales from above and below the line by JJ Abrams, Robert Towne, and many, many more. Culling these fantastic stories was a true labor of love, and I look forward to sharing the adventure with all of you. Will update with details as it all unfolds…
I came to Hollywood in 1975 to dive head first into a Golden Age of Cinema. To the right is where I landed. To the left is where I wrote about it in this stellar new anthology on Los Angeles in the ’70’s. Pick it up and get taken back to the Wild West by some of the city’s most unique voices. Available at fine bookstores everywhere, and of course, right here at Amazon.
Bruce Ferber has garnered a gold award in humor and a bronze in general adult fiction for his second novel, Cascade Falls, in Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year competition. Humorist Dan Zevin calls the book “poignant, moving and ridiculously funny.” Bruce is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated comedy writer and producer whose credits include Bosom Buddies, Growing Pains, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, Coach and Home Improvement, where he served as executive producer and showrunner. A former EBWW keynoter, he’s also the author of Elevating Overman, which is being developed for the big screen.
An honor to be acknowledged by the folks at ForeWord. As you might imagine, perhaps the greatest challenge for anyone in the creative arts these days is making sure people know about the work. Readers, moviegoers, music fans, TV binge watchers — we’re all busy, with so many choices as to how to spend our free time. So it’s gratifying (and helpful regarding sales) when critics and friends respond positively to the material. In that spirit, I would like to invite anyone who’s read and enjoyed Cascade Falls to WRITE A REVIEW on Amazonor GoodReads or both (you can copy and paste). Just click the links and you’re good to go! I (and my publisher) would be most appreciative. And for those of you who haven’t yet had the chance to take a look? It’s a fun summer read.
Wishing you a wonderful summer, full of many great books.