Sunday, August 30, 2009

Norwood Young's Birthday & Michael Jackson Tribute Party

Combine a lavish birthday party fit for only the King of Hancock Park and the legendary music of the King of Pop and what do you have? An event that could only be described as a "thriller", or better yet, an event Los Angeles will be talking about for days...make that years because Norwood Young, reigns supreme when it comes to throwing a party. To make it plain--and this is not Hollywood hyperbole--"ain't no party like a Norwood Young party, cause a Norwood Young party don't stop!"

I'm not even going to attempt to describe all that was witnessed at his recent bash in historic Hancock Park. Between curious neighbors snapping pictures like Hollywood tourists and onlookers driving by slowly creating 3rd Street traffic jams, the infamous house on the corner of Muirfield was definitely "Off The Wall" last Friday night. "Can You Feel It?"

I can't event tell it all! So, I'm just going to let the video do it's thing! Long live the "kangs!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hallelujah in Hollywood: Suzanne Whang Delivers Sermon

While some entertainment blogs wouldn't dare venture off course and address God and spirituality, Hollywood As I Live & Work isn't afraid to show the real source of it's creativity. Trust, "when I look back over my life and think things over, I can truly say that I've been blessed. I've Got A Testimony." And if you've had any success in pursuing your goals in Hollywood, you've got testimony too.

So to put it bluntly, I'll take the attitude of Hip Hop on this and say, "I ain't never scared" to praise or mention God here or anywhere else I am or represented. Talk about name dropping! I'll even discuss spirituality and consciousness because at the end of the day all of it works to my good to generate a "Hallelujah in Hollywood" for me and others.

That said, I'd like to introduce Suzanne Whang, not the famed "House Hunters" host, hilarious "Las Vegas" actress, nor brilliant stand up comic. No, I'd like to introduce to you Suzanne Whang, the universal life minister. The same woman that introduced "The Secret" to me and Oprah Winfrey which I shared years ago on this blog.

Listen to her message and I promise you'll laugh, learn, and be enlightened at the same time.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guest Blog: I Wish I'd Known When I First Got To LA by Dajuan Johnson

Ladies and gents allow me to introduce my second guest blogger to "Hollywood As I Live & Work", actor Dajuan Johnson! His tweets about his experiences when he first arrived in the Los Angeles were so similar to mine it led me to invite him to share his thoughts here.

And as I type I realize the anniversary of my moving to LA again snuck up on me. Damn, how time flies! August 17th, 2002, I arrived in Los Angeles sans formal invitation with a car full of "I can't live withouts" and a heart full of hope. No road map to sure success, just a strong desire to fulfill the potential I knew North Carolina couldn't satisfy. Read my personal story HERE.

So below are excerpts from Dajaun's blog post "LA or Bust" that mirror my own thoughts of "I Wished I Had Known When I First Got To LA." I also dedicate this to friends of friends reading this that have expressed a desire to make the move. Take these experiences and learn what you can, but know that our experiences may not be yours:

1. A few thousand was nothing in this city
. My first bit of advice, get yourself a good flexible “side job.” You’re going to hate it and at times you’re going to even resent it…and why wouldn’t you? It’s not what you came out here to do! It’s not what you spent 4 years in University perfecting your craft to do – and yet you really do need to do it. The trick is to make sure they’re flexible and will allow you to leave for auditions, bookings and/or extended bookings.

Personal Sidebar: My little bundle of monetary joy went fast too! To help keep me and Corolla fed I did audience work. Yes, they pay you to sit in the studio audience for various shows and I didn't like it. It's hard to merely sit in the audience and applaud when your accustomed to working behind the scenes running the show. The benefits outside of cash were access to the studio lots and seeing the live studio production.

2. It’s not called SHOW-ART or SHOW-FEELINGS – it’s SHOWBIZ! I want to stress this point because it took so long in the beginning for me to get my head around the business side of things. This truly is the Superbowl of acting and you’re going to have to step up your game. Especially, soon as you realize that the part doesn’t always go to the most talented actor.

Personal Sidebar: This still applies across the board cause working as a below-the-line producer in NC was different than here. The basics of television/film production didn't change but the culture surrounding it definitely did. So, if you're gonna play the showbiz game know the major players, their roles, and the rules.

3. Some relationships are just experience, but you just need to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. Remembering that every experience is a learning experience will get you far.

Personal Sidebar: I'll add to that, learn quickly the differentiation between friends and associates. There is an element of "what can you do for me?" that's real. So watch your back, your front, and all extremities as a newbie in the industry. Memorable experiences, good or bad, make for great blogs!

4. Referrals and workshops for finding an agent. I have found are the best avenues and I wish I knew this from the get-go. Since you’re new out here you are probably thinking how am I going to get a referral? Friends, classmates, teachers, co-workers are a great place to start.

Personal Sidebar: This rings true in general for getting some face time with studio or company reps that make hiring decisions. Thanks to a referral I received my first long term job on a sitcom, "The Parkers." Shout out to Thyonne and Stacey:-)

5. Sam French (bookstore) is going to become your best friend when you first get into town. There’s a lot of GOOD information in that store on how to get an agent.

Personal Sidebar: I spent immeasurable amounts of time in Sam French literally taking notes from the books I couldn't afford to buy. Of course, that was an offense so off to a Barnes & Noble or public library I would go. Many of the trades including "Hollywood Reporter" and "Variety" can be read for free and photocopied for cheap at the library. Not to mention should your computer or internet cease to exist, the library is a life saver.

And browse the Amazon widget to the left. There's a wealth of used and new material related to Hollywood on it's website.

6. Having your own website. Get one. And get it fast. I have found right now in the business people want it fast. They want to be able to click on something and have all the information they need about you. I’ve booked jobs by having my reel and resume online.

Personal Sidebar: Even a blog helps, especially if you're a writer. In fact, "Hollywood As I Live & Work" was created for two reasons: 1. To showcase my skills as a writer and video producer; and 2. to give folk back home a way of keeping up with me. That said this blog, my YouTube Channel, and my Livestream Channel do lead to work for others.

7. A personal support system. Finally, probably one of the most important things I wish I knew when I first moved out here…but quickly found out…you need to have a strong support system in place. I was lucky because a group of people I went to college with moved out here too or had already made the trek.

If you don’t have something like this in place, find good people you connect with. It helps if they’re in the industry or at least if they get the industry because you’re going to be talking about it a lot.

I hope I helped even a little. Remember these are the opinions of an actor going through it right now. Real Time. None of this is full proof. Just my journey. I often wonder if I’ll look back on all of this and have something different to say. Probably not.

Personal Sidebar: That first year me and some dear friends formed what we named the "NC Collective". And for the time we all lived here it was definitely a great support. Most have moved back. Yes, we talked industry a lot but it was and is sooo good to have those around that have something more to talk about than just working in the industry.

To learn more about Dajuan and to read the full text of his "LA or Bust" blog visit his website at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kiss And Tail: The Hollywood Jump Off Premiere

I'm not sure how women obtained the unofficial title "the weaker sex" but we've come to learn as women there's definitely power in the____ (insert popular feline knickname or street vernacular here). " S...E...X...It's stronger than any drug, even love" sang Jamie Foxx on his first album and in this much talked about film, "Kiss and Tail: The Hollywood Jump Off" it holds true.

From the Old Testament to the New, from the oldest civilizations to popular culture women have used "what they got, to get what they want." Enter the famed Karrine "Superhead" Steffans, video vixen turned best selling author . Sex was/is her business card and she's given it to many in the entertainment industry. And business was GOOOOD for a minute. Then when the zippers closed and the money stopped, she used her "good brain" for writing and her active mouth for talking instead of ___ ( know) to inform the world of her A-list clientel--married, single, and otherwise. "You dropped a bomb on me, baby!"

After three scandalous novels those that fell between her pages are now doing all the talking in "Kiss and Tail: The Hollywood Jump Off". So join me as I attend its LA premiere to get the Hollywood 411 on this controversial film. Then watch Part 2 of my intimate conversation with Norwood Young as he shares personal details about his relationship with Steffans and a lot more! See that in my next post, "Beyond Kiss and Tail".

To get both sides of the story flip through books and videos below:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

G.I. Joe's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Shares His Hollywood Story

It's a BIG weekend for handsome actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's a.k.a Twitter's @TheOneTripleA. This Friday he will appear in lead roles in two major premieres: As "Heavy Duty" in the highly anticipated action flick, "G.I. Joe"; and as a widowed husband in the season opener of USA Network's, "Monk". That's a great accomplishment for any entertainer! So set your calendar devices for August 7th. It's a "Triple A" day!

So in honor of his special day, here's part two of my exclusive interview with "Triple A". In this interview, I learn there's more to this Nigerian-born model-turned-actor than meets the eye. Although what meets my eyes is very satifsying, what talents Adewale has to offer the entertainment world are more than skin deep. Roll the video and then comment!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Guest Blog: 7 tips on Low Budget Filmmaking by Joyful Day Productions

Submitted by: Joy Sudduth and Dana Hana

Filmmaking is an amazing and wonderful creative process! It is also a business and our examples are those who do it wonderfully and efficiently: The "one take" Clint Eastwood; the Scorsese epic creating machine; and the Coen brothers daring and repeat comedic successes.

Filmmaking, however, is also a business…..and when you are starting your career it is immensely important to be aware of this fact. And even more so if you are operating on a budget. And most of us beginning, mid-career, and even seasoned producers, have a STRICT budget to meet.

We all want to make a high quality epic in 3 days for $5,000. Unfortunately, that doesn’t usually happen. Not that we know of…….It is important to know your project in great detail and know what it will take to get it done. And how do you know that? If you don’t have prior films of your own to use as a template, do your RESEARCH!

Find out how long it takes to shoot a 4-5 or 30 or 90 minute film. Know how many scenes you have to shoot and have a reasonable estimate for how long each shot will take. Then map out your shoot days and stick to the schedule. This will keep you on schedule and help keep you within your budget by avoiding the ever so costly additional shoot days!

Study budgets and set a reasonable budget in advance. Low balling doesn’t work in this industry. If it’s going to cost $10,000 to finish your project, knocking 30% off at the beginning won’t make it so. Know the crew/equipment/number of locations/cast/catering/post production that you will need and set your budget accordingly.

Research those cost ranges for your area, make calls, go online, consult friends/family and industry contacts (if any) to determine and use your most reasonably priced (if not free) resources.

Save, save, save where you can! If you can get a $1200 cinematographer for $900 and can afford it; then book him/her! But don’t estimate your cinematographer at $600 /day in the hopes that they will love the project/the exposure etc so much that they’ll forget their rate. They won’t!

Worst case scenario, you will go over budget! Or shall we say, most commonplace scenario….
Keep that in mind and discuss the option with your producing partners or executive producers. Do all you can to stay on track financially but there will always be unforeseen costs! It’s like home ownership, add 10% for incidentals and extras if you can!

We have always come in within our production costs while shooting, but in post production/marketing and packaging/DVD reproduction/festival submissions/and general grueling labor, we have always continued to invest in our projects!

This does not mean that you should wait and wait forever to procure funds in order to shoot, but there is a reason so many films are in post production for years! It is more common than not for a film to be completely shot and never finished because there’s no funding for post production.

Have your editing funded so you can at the very least finish your film and market it to raise more money for packaging or marketing or festival submissions. If you shoot a film and never have a viewable version you might as well have not shot your film.

Work with people who are compatible with you! And once you find that crew; STICK WITH THEM! I [Joy] made it a project while on the set of Steven Spielberg’s "Catch Me If You Can" to see how often he used similar crew and you would be amazed at how often he uses the same crew. For example, he used the same music supervisor from "ET", to "Jurassic Park" to "Catch Me If You Can".

Valuable lesson: Find people who believe in what you are doing, and the stories you are telling, and who appreciate your work ethic and technique. It will simplify your journey and create productive and supportive work environment! And a happy set is a productive set!

As an executive producer/producer you may be running on 2 hours of sleep for several nights, I know we were and our longest film to date is 15 minutes! Be prepared to be exhausted and be prepared to WORK THROUGH IT. There will always be challenges: a location falls through; talent breaks a leg or even worse books a higher paying job or doesn’t know any lines; or a piece of equipment cannot be found. All obstacles are opportunities! And when you view them that way, hurdles become anecdotes!

We’ve all been on sets and shared amongst ourselves “I’ll never work with them again”. Many of our opportunities have come from people being on set and seeing our commitment to delivering what we promise, and wanting to hire us. Pay people when you say you will, wrap when you say you will, if you promise to give copies of the project, give copies of the project. You will establish a reputation as a professional and people will seek you out for work, and in a town like this, there is nothing better.

There will always be stress associated with a creative business venture. The difference is how you handle it. And a smile goes a long way toward dissolving tension, and lower tension lowers defenses and helps everyone get back to the task at hand, making a great project!

We've made 3 films and were recently selected as finalists in Allstate's Be Reel competition. Visit Joyful Day Productions to see our work.

Thank you Alice!


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