Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Interview With Film/TV Producer -- and Author --Terence Michael

PRODUCE YOURSELF: Apply Hollywood's Proven Formula To Become The Hero of Your Own Life

1. What moved you to write a book, Produce Yourself, after producing 20 movies and dozens of TV shows?
On set, there’s a lot of waiting for lights, props, and everything technical to get into place before we’re actually shooting. For that reason, I often found myself talking to various crew members about everything from buying homes, what to invest in, and (unfortunately) more often than not… how to make ends meet in between shows. As freelancers (95% of Hollywood), almost everyone has a side-hustle and other entrepreneurial pursuits. But rarely is anyone as effectual as they can be. Having gone to business school, I saw what my colleagues were doing right, but also wrong. And this book became a growth from those problems. What seemed obvious to me was completely foreign to them. And although this book is not a business book, a lot of the principles and applications work for finances and growing wealth.

2. How does one become the hero of their own life?
In a nutshell… she connects with her inner-hero and listens to her.  She sets aside noise, ego, distraction, labels, titles, and finds who her authentic self is. She separates passion from purpose. She seeks creation rather than just consumption. We all get that “call to adventure” but often reside in the following stage, The Refusal. The hero needs to overcome this, whether via mentors, allies, or experimenting — failing. Failure is one of the keys to becoming a hero. Remaining in a safe place, one’s comfort zone, is what keeps many in supporting roles rather than the hero. Every film or TV show you’ve ever enjoyed has a hero who stumbles, fails, but then eventually succeeds by sheer determination. A hero learns the value in planting seeds, compounding their efforts, but also listening to who she really is and what she really wants. Not what others want or expect from her. 

3. What life lessons did you uncover while producing hit television reality show, Duck Dynasty?
The first lesson was don’t judge a book by its cover. The adage is ridiculously obvious, but let me say this: Almost my entire staff and crew on that show is left-wing leaning liberal. We’re mostly all from California. But spending immersed months engaged with this family, year after year, there’s not a single crew or staff member who wouldn’t tell you how amazing the family is. They are the real deal. They are so inspiring as human beings that it’s almost unbelievable. That’s the first lesson. The media doesn’t always get it right. I get it. But it’s too bad there’s a stigma with them that quite honestly isn’t accurate. It really isn’t, at least on the family as a whole.  Second… and this is what I write a lot about in the book, authenticity will always win the day. The Robertsons have never been afraid be who they are. And because of that, they have one of the most successful TV brands out there. They didn’t try to look like everyone else does or be the Kardashians.  On also, I guess there’s a third lesson. The duck call whistle is upside down. You blow in the opposite end you’d think!

4. How well does advice from Hollywood translate into other industries and life pursuits?
Extremely accurate. We spend so much time thinking about human behavior, psychology, motivation, and story arc, that we’re really thinking about peak performance and personal growth. At least for me, as a showrunner and executive producer, I have to think about how to shape a believable and likable character, but someone who has pursuits and goals. So I have to get them from point A to point B, showing struggle, but also triumph. I think the steps and lessons translate to any industry. The universal blockers we have in any job, relationship, or endeavor are the same ones we use in Hollywood — fear, insecurity, finances, family, etc., etc.

5. Hollywood has come under fire over sexual harassment charges levied hourly, involving some of the biggest names around. Is it a witch hunt or is there a real problem that needs to be addressed?
Both. I think the sexual harassment charges (very real in Hollywood, but I’m not so sure any more than any other industry) are a way to bring down people who have taken advantage of their positions. It’s like when the feds eventually caught Al Capone. As evil as he was, they never got him for murder, extortion, or racketeering.  They got him for not paying his taxes. Not that sexual harassment is as benign as avoiding your taxes by any means. But that flaw becomes the gateway to bring down someone where other methods may have been useless. You can’t run around Hollywood and say Harvey Weinstein is evil do don’t work with him. But this is basically what everyone is saying. And the sexual harassment charges allow them to say that… without saying that.

6. Which is more challenging: producing a book or a movie? Why?
A book is more personally challenging. You certainly know this. But I had to learn this this. I write so much in Hollywood I figured a book would be easy. But unlike story, a book — this book anyhow as it’s a focus on the inner-hero — really made me look into my own life, challenges, missed-opportunities, what-ifs, etc. It was very therapeutic.  With my film or TV projects, there’s always a disconnect, as I’m shaping other characters.  With this book, it was focusing on my own character, my own journey, and sharing those lessons.

7. What challenges did you have to becoming your own hero?
Aside from residing in The Refusal stage for 5 years, I wore masks, concerned myself with labels, how others viewed me, and was living a life for the expectation of others rather than for my own purpose. I was also focused on the output rather than the input. I had to overcome these misconceptions and think about the daily function of what I did every day. I had to enjoy that. I had to perform and produce for me. Since tomorrow never comes and we only have today, I learned that I had to love today. I had to love the process, the input, the function. Those were my challenges.

8. What advice do you have for those looking to break into a competitive industry such as Hollywood?
Write! It’s the one skill that translates almost everywhere in Hollywood. I was given this advice early on from a mentor in college. But I avoided it. My hubris and ignorance wouldn’t allow me to put in the work. But writers rule Hollywood. Every great director, writer, even actor, you admire… they write, a lot, and often daily. Content rules Hollywood, especially now as platforms are changing so quickly. But story is story and the machine that is Hollywood will always be hungry for good story.

9. Who were some of your favorite actresses and actors to work with?
I’m always in awe of actors with improv skills. And for that reason, Ben Stiller continues to be one of my favorite experiences, seeing him just riff, take after take after take, making up complete scenarios and lines in front of a 50-person crew just going down tangent after tangent far out into the weeds. The camera would cut and the entire crew would just look at each other with their jaw-dropped… “did you all just see that too?” Pretty talented that guy! I would throw Jeffrey Tambor, Tea Leoni, and Sarah Jessica Parker in this category too.

10. How does one apply your hero formula to developing better habits and to live a more productive life?
They take the 12-stages of the hero and align them with where they are today. They might be in stage 3 or stage 6.  But once you figure out what stage you’re in, you can then see what the next step is.  You can see that you might need to increase your average of 5, for example, and change the people you are surrounding yourself with. You might realize you need to change your morning routine, your sleep schedule, find time to meditate or even play.  I get granular when it comes to productivity with my own systems like “D.A.D” - Delete - Automate - Delegate and leveraging your daily time like “C.A.P.” - Create - Administer - Play.  Many of these concepts are similar to what other business motivators write about (like Cal Newport). But I’ve aligned them with the hero formula to make it easy to apply.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

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