Thursday, January 24, 2013


Nicole Kidman walks picturesque Park City street with entourage.
Monday I attended a film finance seminar sponsored by Film Utah at Sundance Film Festival.

There are advantages to living in Park City.  I often think the industry gets it backwards.  One should live in Park City fifty weeks a year and Los Angeles two weeks!  A twenty something actor sitting beside me disagreed, saying you can feel the pulse of film in LA.  One walks into a coffee shop and hears two producers talking about what actors they are going to hire and how.”

Of course, if you have something real to offer, sometimes the industry comes looking for you.  Amor fati.

Panel at The Paint Mixer
After the seminar, I learned of a pitch competition scheduled to begin in less than a minute.  I paid the $30 entry fee and reviewed the projects I had available.  The big two I judged too big for the forum, but I put together a pitch in 15 minutes based on a story I spontaneously told my nieces and nephew a few years ago.

The moderator drew my number early.  I walked in with a smile on my chin that reached to my eyes and spread to my toes.  I warmly and sincerely greeted the panel, and told them what I could do.  Five minutes flew by fast, and it seemed they wanted to talk another ten, but rules are rules.

Afterward, a distributor on the panel stopped me and said if I had an illustration or two, I probably would have won.  She says when I have them, give her a call.

Prior to that follow up conversation, I walked outside as animated as my project.  I spoke to a friend who also participated, and let him practice his pitch on me.  I became a five minute mentor and helped him see and present his project in a new way.  He took a deep breath, threw his pitch behind closed doors, and happily reported that he incorporated some of my advice.

A few minutes later, Nicole Kidman walked by our outdoor chairs with her entourage.  Cell phone cameras rustled out of pockets like leaves in a summer breeze.  My friend, wearing a press badge, tracked down Nicole’s manager to ask if he might score an interview.  He got it.

Two victories!

Kimball Art Center, Sundance ready
After a Sundance Salad at Filmmakers Lounge and meeting the founder of IndieGoGo and his head of “movies, television, and film” at The Hub, I called it a night.

The Sun will rise to dance another day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Entertaining for a Cause

I spent the afternoon yesterday in Wendover, Nevada with Goldman Sachs employees and guests.  It was an unusual place for me to be, because I don’t drink, smoke or gamble, but I do like to observe business models, especially those relating to entertainment and finance.  I made good use of the Oceans Buffet of Montego Bay Casino.  (Oceans is one of the best tasting buffets I’ve been to, and there was a lot less smoke in Wendover than in Vegas.)  I also got to know some very capable people.

For example, through what I once thought was hard work and determination, I received an Eagle Scout award at age thirteen and a half.  Two of five people at my table had theirs six months to a year earlier!  How many people get there by seventeen, if at all?

The event was a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  My friend Nicole works at Goldman’s Salt Lake office, now their second largest in America and fourth largest in the world.  Nicole is a long time athlete, one time dive team champion, and is now preparing for a marathon in support of the LLS.  I was amazed how many runners a non-track team could pack on one bus!  I learned a lot about full and half marathons in a few short hours.

The event also reinforced how valuable entertainment can be in promoting a non-profit cause.  In some ways, entertainment is the perfect partner for doing good.

As we formulate new entertainment industry ventures over the next weeks, months, and years, let us remember the power for good inherent in creativity and organization.

Whether you put together a bus trip to Wendover for leukemia or a golf tournament to support kids with disabilities like my friend Rod, you have power to make the world happier, healthier, and intrinsically wealthier.  Helping others succeed makes us better, too.

For more on how employees of Goldman Sachs support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or to contribute, visit!

With a bit of extra thought, we can all help entertainment--in some ways society’s modest common denominator--be put to its highest and best use.