COMING SOON! 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.

Till next time… Bruce


On Process: Bruce Ferber

23 Tuesday Apr 2013


Yesterday while unsuccessfully trying to come up with an interesting post, we pored over books about totem poles, the elements of design, Paris Review writer interviews among other things. And we couldn’t get the creative motor going. Then we remembered having met a very funny writer over the weekend, Bruce Ferber. Ferber is a 30 year veteran television writer, who has left that world to embark on his career as a novelist. What struck us about our conversation with him is how he talked about his process. “For me,” he said, “It’s really important to find the play in what I do. It’s really important to have fun.” So, looking to get some fun out of this, we reached out to Ferber to get some tips on getting unstuck.

1. Change Location – Ferber used to write in his office at his desk when suddenly his office started feeling like an office. There were stacks of paper at his desk and working there felt, well, like work. So leaving his computer behind, mechanical pencil and paper in hand, he upped and relocated to his yard, his dog following him as he went. And once he got there, the break from technology and change in scenery inspired creation.

2. Change Writing Tools – Word is a straight forward software and who doesn’t use it? Well Ferber did until he found Scrivener, which allows writers to break down each chapter into a separate document. The ability to move things around easily makes editing and puzzling things together fun, rather than an argument with a cursor.

3. Pay Attention to the Signs – As Ferber started writing his most recent book, he was trying to sort things out about the character and the direction of the story, when he came across a Penny Saver advertisement for a cheap $299 per eye Lasik procedure. For some reason, this intrigued him and before he knew it, it became the jumping off point for the main character in his very funny and heartfelt novel.

4. Reward Yourself – In line with changing loaction, Ferber likes to travel to find new places to write. He is admittedly not a Coffee House writer but he likes to explore the local hangouts wherever he goes. So for him, getting some work done in a cabin or a motel that’s out of town only means that he will get the reward of checking out the nearest bar or coffee shop.

Ferber told he us he doesn’t actually get blocked. “I just find the act of writing a tortuous process,” he said “unless I’m free and relaxed – that’s where the “make it fun” thing comes from. Then, once I get a bunch of pages written I can go back to the computer without feeling like its slave.” Well, we’ll take any advice we can get about turning something so difficult into a good time…And, speaking of good time, if you’re looking for an easy read with lots of heart, check out “Elevating Overman.” You won’t be disappointed.