The Mail Bag #1

QUESTION from Rosco4President and MSCO22 and FoxCMC on Instagram (and about a thousand other people on my Twitter and Instagram and Facebook accounts:  Can I be in one of your movies?

ANSWER:  I get this question a few times a week online.  I usually answer it with: "You never know."  Or "I'm looking forward to that one day."  A little evasive.  Sort of the way I answer when my wife asks me if I'm planning on exercising any time soon.  The truth is, though, that these are honest answers.  You never DO know.  And, if the person writing to me is a solid actor or actress, I really AM looking forward to working with them one day.  But here's the sobering reality of the situation… 1)  Sending a headshot and resume to me doesn't do anything.  I will always take a look at it when it lands in my inbox, but unless I'm casting something RIGHT THEN that miraculously needs your look and type, it's going to wind up in a folder on my computer labelled "Actor Submissions" that I will almost certainly never look at again.  It's not out of lack of interest, or lack of empathy... it's more just lack of time.  I don't think about casting until I'm casting.  And that happens for about three weeks a year.  And I rarely get that perfect photo and resume during that time.  Believe me, my heart goes out to actors trying to get their break.  My wife is an actress and I know how difficult it can be.  2)  If I'm casting a big role, I am always getting pressure to cast a "name".  It doesn't matter if the film has a 2 million dollar budget or a 2 hundred dollar budget, the producers are always looking for a name for the leads.  It sucks.  Good actors are getting passed over.  But that's the reality of the business.  One day I hope to have the power to make final casting decisions, but it's not now.  And if I'm casting a day player, or a smaller role, or a cameo, I'm almost always going to turn to a friend.  I've been directing for about fifteen years now.  One of the HARDEST things about my job, one that keeps me up at night when I'm casting a film, is NOT being able to help out friends and people who have stood by me since I was making Super8 shorts in film school.  So if those roles do come around, I almost always offer them to friends first.  My advice… if you're an actor, audition for student films.  You may just get a chance to work with the next Ang Lee (NYU) or George Lucas (USC) or Kathryn Bigelow (Columbia).  I shared my class at USC with Jason Ensler (the very popular director of shows like The West Wing, The Newsroom, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith (the writers/showrunners of The King of Queens, What Women Want and 13 Going on 30, and Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (who wrote The Vow, Never Been Kissed and Valetine's Day).  There was Sean Hood, Joe Nussbaum, Wendy West… the list goes ON and ON.  All of these folks got their start, with me, making movies in their apartments for Film School 101 (they actually called it 501 when I was there).  Some of the actors I used in my movies back then have had lead roles in my professional projects.  Tim Griffin starred in half of my USC films, and you'll see him turn up in four of the six features I've directed.  I offered him one the leads in the last movie but he was too busy (believe me, I'm no longer doing HIM favors by casting him).  My point is, start on the ground floor.  You never know if you'll wind up in a film by Brian Grazer or Judd Apatow or John Carpenter or Paul Feig or Shawn Levy or Jason Reitman or Robert Zemeckis (yup… all film school students at USC).

QUESTION from nickleask on Instagram:  I would like to email you.  How I can I do that?  Thanks a lot.

ANSWER:  If you click on the CONTACT link in the main menu, there's a very easy way to reach out to me personally.  I don't post my actual email online because it invites all kinds of junk mail.  Please understand, I cannot answer all the emails I get.  General questions will get answered on this blog over time.  If you have something simple, you are MUCH more likely to get a quick response from me on Twitter.

QUESTION from many folks:  Can I send you my script?  Will you read my treatment?  Can I tell you this great idea I have for a movie?  

ANSWER:  Unfortunately, I can NOT accept materials online.  I read scripts that friends send me from time to time, but they are usually close friends (and people who eventually have to call me  up screaming about why I haven't read it in six months).  There are legal reasons as to why I can't engage these kinds of inquiries.  Plus, honestly, you don't need me.  I can't help you in that way.  You're looking for an agent or a manager or a lawyer or an executive or a producer or a million people other than me.  I have a hard enough time getting through the studio scripts I get sent, I'm sorry, I just can't read your material.  On a side note, Josh Olson, the writer of the amazing movie A History of Violence, wrote a VERY funny piece in The Village Voice called: "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script".  If you haven't read it, do that now!  LINK CLICK HERE