What MAKES Sammy Run? - NETWORK FOR SUCCESS
(PHOTOS from TOP TO BOTTOM: Award-Winning Director Sam Borowski (R), Academy-Award Nominated actress Sally Kellerman (C) and cinematographer Bill Schweikert (L) pose on the red carpet at the sold-out World Premiere of NIGHT CLUB at the 2011 PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL. Borowski, also an award-winning writer, leads a Writer's Panel Breakfast at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival.Borowski is flanked by talented actresses Samantha Tuffarelli (L) and Maria Rusolo (R) after a recent performance of "FOR PETE'S SAKE" starring Joe Capozzi and Bill Sorvino.)
This week's topic may not on the surface, sound sexy, but it's one of the key methods of success in this business, and what is sexier than success? But, actually there's a scene in a popular movie that describes exactly what I am speaking to.
There's a superb bit of dialogue in the movie SISTER ACT, in which Mother Superior, played wonderfully by Maggie Smith tells a rebellious Sister Mary Clarence AKA Deloris Van Cartier in disguise (a hilarious Whoopi Goldberg) that she needs to find a new direction in her life:
"If I were you, I would use this time to think about my life and its direction or lack thereof ... If you're fooling anyone, it is only yourself. God has brought you here ... take the hint."
The scene really resonates, and it reminds me of so many of the young - and old - neophytes I meet in the business that want help, but do nothing to earn it.
So, having said that, one of the KEY mistakes I have seen people make in this business is Failure To Network. If I had a quarter for every person that ever told me, "I want it bad, Sam ..." and didn't follow up, I would be a rich man. And, I am on my way there with each new milestone so ...
In fact, just this past class I had two new students sign up and not even show.
Seriously, from what I see, many people, usually the neophytes - and this goes for filmmakers and actors alike - don't put forth the correct energy and effort it takes to make it in this business. That's why when I see people who put forth that effort, I reward them. When they actually have both the talent and the effort - it's a magical combination.
I am constantly asked how I got to my current standing in the industry, as a full-time filmmaker, writer-director/producer ... myth-smith, lucky enough to entertain and tell stories for a living. Pay attention in this BLOG and I will tell you again:
Network for Success. I once offered another filmmaker a chance to possibly edit a project for a studio film - he was more concerned with how much he would get remunerated at the time. A shame, really, because this could have led to more work for him. This person has talent, but currently does micro-budget productions, where his cast and crew volunteer their servies, yet he wasn't willing to do the same thing?
Where is the passion? And, I say this, NOT to denigrate the filmmaker in any way, shape or form, but to show that lost opportunities can be the difference between winning and losing in this business. And, while - at this point in my career, I have to be selective - I still investigate every opportunity I can.
You need passion to make it in this industry and Networking is one of the key ways to show that passion. You aren't just wandering through the industry, you are showing why you deserve the opportunity to receive your dream.
I can say honestly that I have 3 students who will take every opportunity they can. Some of them, I have counseled to be a little selective as they get more serious opportunities presented for them. One of the things I do my best to tell them is to identify who the players are in this industry.
If a true player takes an interest in you - you are one of the lucky ones. But, how do you get one of these players to take an interest in you? You Network ... For Success.
Whether it's entering a contest on ForTalent.com as Samantha Tuffarelli did when I was blown away by her amazing monologue that wasn't from the Neil LaBute film, IN THE COMPANY OF MEN - LOL inside joke - but was amazing nonetheless, or whether it was fellow ForTalent member Maria Rusolo congratuting me over 3 separate film festivals on wins for 3 of my films, who kicked down the door to Borowskiville and eventually got a key role in one of my productions.
Whether it's my acting student Anthony Pallino selling out completely for a role in my class the past year - which included stripping down to boxers (don't ask), playing a female, drinking a shot of hot sauce to get in character or dressing up like the Joker in full comic book regalia - or Guyviaud Joseph working late night hours in my office, and working hard in the class to prove his worth.
I will say it again, you have to prove yourself in this business - again and again.
And, once someone takes an interest in you, make the most of that opportunity and keep the relationship, as I did with Sam Sherman, who mentored me many years ago - and continues to mentor me, as an equal, to this day.
Just this past weekend alone, I went to a play - with several of the people mentioned above - and was recognized by several people who knew me only as the Best Director and Best Feature winner at the GOLDEN DOOR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF JERSEY CITY. Some of them I have gotten to know, and others I hadn't seen since the festival in October.
Among one of the people I had very little contact with or hadn't seen since, a connection was born. She welcomed me to the play, where she greeted me as her "favorite director." She then revealed to me that she is close friends with Thomas Langmann. And, if you have the courage to admit you don't know who Thomas Langmann is - then let me inform you he is the Ocar-Winning Producer of THE ARTIST, this year's Best Picture Winner at the recent Academy Awards. She informed me she wanted to introduce me to Langmann in the future.
Networking For Success - right there.
And, this all came about because I went to see FOR PETE'S SAKE, a heart-wrenching play that used humor to convey a very serious message, starring my good friend Bill Sorvino. Now, I believe Sam Borowski, Thomas Langmann and Bill Sorvino will all work on a project together in the near future.
But, imagine, had I NOT chose to support Bill and his incredible castmates at the play? Think on that?
How about had I not gone to the Trail Dance Film Festival in Oklahoma? I would not have met Director Scott Thompson, who helmed the very interesting feature film SICK OF LARRY, or its very talented young star Kiera Morrill, both of whom I have become friends with. As a result, it looks as if I am going to Iowa late this summer to Produce a film, "A PLACE FOR HEROES" for Thompson, who will Direct his most intriguing project to date. But, again, that all came about because I went to Trail Dance and shined. I shined at the parties - by using my natural Producer's Charm - I shined in my screening, where I attracted a large audience and let my movie, NIGHT CLUB, speak for itself. I shined in the media, where the day of my screening I had a cover-story in the Duncan Banner, and was interviewed on the local ABC affiliate the next day. And, I shined at the awards, where I took home the prestigious Director's Choice Award.
I made the absolute MOST out of that opportunity.
Just as I did when I went to a premiere years ago for an Independent Film that starred Keith David. One of my good friends later saw David at a Broadway show and he remembered meeting him at the premiere. Soon enough we formed a real friendship and working relationship with David. But we fostered that over years. It didn't take days. When he invited us to come see him play Othello on Broadway, you can bet we were there. And, when he invited us out for dinner afterward, we went with him, even though it was late into the evening. There I met Oscar-Winning actor Timothy Hutton, who knew Keith.
When Keith invited us back the very next night for the wrap party as the show's run was ending we came and handed him a script. He went on to work on two of our projects.
You ask me again, how I got to my current standing in the industry and how I do what I do - That's how I do it.
If I ask Pallino to do something for me - whether it be, be at my office, make a call for me, meet up with me, or go somewhere, he does it in a heartbeat. Joseph? It has become second nature when I am going somewhere that he shows up with directions to where I am going, the best train to take (often there is more than one way to go), train tickets, you name it. He even brought food to my office - more than once, I might add. Tuffarelli? She's a great person, a very fun person, but when it's business, she does what I need her to do. If I need for her to come to meet somewhere inconvenient, she does it. And, I notice it - I notice all of it.
And, while all of the above have talent - some more refined than others - all of them have earned a place in my Inner-Circle, because of their actions. If that isn't Networking For Success, I don't know what is.
Yet others have played their way out, or are on the way out of My Inner Circle, because they just don't have the resolve and honest effort to follow through.
Many people will comment on this BLOG and yet many more will read it and say nothing. Yet, those people, having a chance to leave an impression on me, resist the chance to show me how intelligent, charming and talented they are. Resist the chance to get their names in front of me (yes, I see who leaves comments), and show me their intellectual side.
I have met unknown actors who have actually had both the studpidity to tell me "if anything ever happens, I will put you with my agent." I am talking actors without the resume that is necessary to say that statement. (And, BTW, I usually deal with the actors themselves, when I have a relationship with them). I've asked actors to do things and when they don't (send a message, leave a comment, vote on my imdb page), they simply illustrate to me that they cannot take direction.
Networking plays a role in all of this. But, the key is, when you have achieved success through networking foster that relationship - don't treat it like any other working relationship. If someone offers you advice, help, work, etc, etc, treat that business relationship differently than a person you met once and who gave you lip service.
To this day, I still do a pancake brunch with Sam Sherman during Christmas Week at his house. I often do a pre-Christmas lunch a few days before Christmas Eve, and if you are lucky enough to be close with me, you may have come to one of these events. (Sam S was one of my top producers on NIGHT CLUB, and has worked on over 40 films as a Producer).
The students I have singled out above have all showed me their passion for their craft, for the industry itself, and each brings something different to the table. But, each, has found a way to network.
* Joseph practically tackled me at the GOLDEN DOOR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF JERSEY CITY'S opening-night, where my film opened the fest. As I was leaving - with a still large crowd following me - to head to the after-party with my entourage, so to speak, Joseph came up and introduced himself.
* Pallino has not missed a single class since he joined my workshop about a year ago. He has not let anything stop him from making it - not working the night before, not sleep deprivation, not his social life ... nothing.
* Tuffarelli is bursting with talent and I have recognized that from the very first day I viewed her monologue. It is supassed only by her work-ethic and willingness to learn. The fact that she is charming and extremely directable, only enhances her chance for work in this industry. When you are always smiling and passionate about your work, and you get what the director is telling you, you make yourself invaluable.
And, I will continue to mention and highlight these people until I am blue in the face - and why is that? Because they are REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES of what I am talking about.
There are people on ForTalent.com who connect with me, ask about the class, but never take it, never comment on the BLOG and it's mind-boggling to me, how they think they will succeed in the business? They still have failed to grasp the concept of Networking For Success. And consequently, they have made their path much harder. They have chosen a much longer direction to try and get where they would like to get.
To paraphrase the wonderful writing of Joseph Howard in SISTER ACT, "If you're fooling anyone, it is only yourself. For whatever reason, God has brought you to this BLOG ... take the hint."
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Film / Theater / TV, Writing
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