Archive for February, 2011

Model Open Call Notes

February 22nd, 2011
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Model open callThis past Sat., my cameraman (Marc Edward) and I went to the Wilhelmina model open call at Windward Mall, where talent agent Ryan Brown was also launching the Hawaii division of the world-renown modeling agency. Ryan has been the owner of the ADR Agency for over 12 years, and says actors they rep have been getting lots of small TV roles on Hawaii Five-O and Off the Map. ADR will continue working with actors, and it's possible some of the models he signs for Wilhelmina Hawaii will cross over to acting as well.

Realistically though, what are the odds of an aspiring model being discovered at an open call? Over a thousand people turned out, Ryan said, and he estimates that 200 to 300 will get callbacks. (Not just tall, slim girls either. He spotted a couple of kids and even a grandmother who he thinks he can line up gigs for right away.) He believes everyone they call back will have legitimate shots of getting modeling jobs in Hawaii. But he advises that no one quit their day job, since there just aren't enough local modeling opportunities to make it a full-time career here. However, as with acting gigs as extras or for bit parts with speaking roles, the pay can be pretty good for a few hours of time.

I also got a chance to talk to Roman Young, who grew up in Hawaii and is now Director of Scouting for Wilhelmina Models in New York. His story is a great example of what it takes to make it in an extremely competitive business, and you'll see it next month on Career Changers TV. Early on, Roman decided he wanted to be in the fashion industry, and did his research. He laughed as he recalled going to the library to learn who's who in the modeling world -- today, we just do a Google search. After contacting the top agencies, he received an internship offer at Elite Model Management, which was like a dream come true... except for one little hitch: it was an unpaid internship with no promise that he'd ever be hired.

Yet Roman jumped at the chance to get his foot in the door with the premier modeling agency. He moved to New York City, worked at night, and then put in full days as an intern for about a year while waiting for a position to open up at Elite. How many of us are willing to work for nothing for months, or even years, in pursuit of our dream job? I'd say very few. So when he got a job offer at Elite, Roman was ready to give it everything he had and quickly rose up the ladder. Eventually he landed at Wilhelmina and now travels the world in search of fresh faces. He's been written up in the N.Y. Times (link below) and appeared on television shows wherever he goes to find new talent. And he loves his job -- even the non-stop traveling. Roman says he has Delta Diamond frequent flyer status, meaning he's logged well over 100,000 air miles.

Roman was very pleased with the Saturday turn-out and thinks there's a good possibility that at least one or two of the candidates might have the potential to reach the top as international models. Then he paused and said there might be six or seven that could get looks from their New York office.

Anyhow, I'll have more to say about the modeling segments we did when our March show starts running next week... including the biggest modeling myth, according to Roman. And we'll show you how one modeling candidate did, who just happens to be related to our host, Theresa Tilley.

Today's relevant links:

Here's the link to the NYT article about Roman when he was still at Elite (you may have to be registered with the NYT site though to view it).

Click here for the Wilhelmina Hawaii site.

And here's the Career Changers TV site link for daily viewing times. You can view videos from past episodes on our CCTV YouTube Channel as well.

Ko Olina Job Fair Postponed

February 18th, 2011
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Sorry! Just received late word that tomorrow's job fair has been postponed. But you can still contact the Ko Olina Workforce office to find out what jobs are available at the various resorts and businesses located there.

Looking for work in West Oahu? Ko Olina Resort & Marina will be holding a job fair this Saturday, Feb. 19, according to Radasha Ho'ohuli, Ko Olina Workforce Developer Manager. They now have a centralized location where you can go to find out about job openings at the Ko Olina Beach Villas, golf club, marina, operations, two wedding companies, Roy's Ko Olina, Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club, the Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, and Disney Aulani as well. To find out more, call Radasha at 671-2512. There is a www.KoOlina.com website, but they haven't posted any info about the job fair. Here's their "Careers" page link, which is at the bottom of the home page in very tiny type. (Pet peeve: websites that require a magnifying glass to read text. Ugh.)

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Although the above job fair info is in our current Career Changers TV show, you might not have seen it because programs are being preempted by high school basketball this week. However, don't forget that you can see OC16 shows on their digitial interactive channel 96 or high-def channel 951. You can also see past CCTV episodes on their website at www.OC16.tv. Increasingly, audiences want video on demand options -- and that's what OC16 is giving their viewers.

BTW, here's the Top 10 Video On Demand shows for OC16 in 2010:

1. Overdrive Live, 2. Brown Bags To Stardom, 3. Pakele Live, 4. Billabong Surf TV, 5. Joy of Crafting, 6. Ultimate Japan, 7. Da Braddahs & Friends, 8. Hawaiian Xtreme Sports TV, 9. Ocean Paddler TV, 10. Board Stories

And the Top 10 on regular television by total viewers in 2010 was:

1.  Hawaii Goes Fishing, 2. Hawaii Skin Diver, 3. Ultimate Japan, 4. Da Braddahs & Friends, 5. Overdrive Live, 6. Tiny TV, 7. Hawaiian Grown Kitchen, 8. Outside Hawaii, 9. Eh! U Da Kine? 10. Joy of Crafting

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We won't be at the Ko Olina job fair Saturday because we'll be shooting the first-ever Wilhelmina modeling agency open call at Windward Mall tomorrow... with an interesting twist: CCTV host Theresa Tilley talked her teenage son into auditioning, so we'll be following him through the process for a segment that will air in March.

For daily viewing times of the current show and other useful employment-related tips, please visit our website or check out our CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo!

Hollywood Tax Credits and Jobs

February 16th, 2011
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Do tax credits like Act 221 really create local film and TV jobs? Are the revenues generated equal or greater than the "lost" income from taxes for productions that might have come to Hawaii, anyway? As a screenwriter, I have a vested interest in this debate... and frankly, I'm of two minds on this subject.

On the mainland, the jury is out on whether state tax incentives have resulted in a net gain or loss of revenues from movie and TV productions that were lured to those locations. But I can tell you this: it DOES make a difference when producers are considering where to shoot. Just last month I was in discussions with an independent producer/director who is interested in one of my movie scripts. The budget would be low -- about $1-2 million. Although my screenplay story is set in New York City, we talked about whether it could be filmed cheaper somewhere else. The producer/director immediately said, "You know, there's some states that have great tax breaks." However, he still felt we could do the movie in NYC because he had movie biz contacts there that he had worked with over the years. Having access to experienced professionals matters. Moreover, in my script Manhattan is an integral part of the story because of the multicultural aspects of the plot. Sometimes a location stand-in just won't do, no matter how much money you can save.

I also had received interest in my LEGENDS OF THE MENEHUNE screenplay from Hollywood producers who said upfront that they were aware of the Act 221 tax credits, which were available at the time. One of them was a guy named Harry Gittes. His reply to my email pitch for the big budget Menehune project said, "I always wanted to do a movie in Hawaii. Send me the script." The name rang a bell because CHINATOWN is one of the classic movies that screenwriters love to talk about, and the private eye played by Jack Nicholson is a memorable character -- whose name was Jake Gittes. So I did a Google search, and it turns out the writer of CHINATOWN (Robert Towne) was an old friend of Harry Gittes. Harry had co-produced a 1971 movie -- DRIVE, HE SAID -- which featured Jack Nicholson, and Robert Towne was in it too (also was an uncredited writer on the script). When Harry requested my Menehune script, it was a few years after he produced another Nicholson flick, ABOUT SCHMIDT...

Which was directed by Alexander Payne, who I got to meet when my INUGAMI script was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival screenwriting contest around the time that his movie ELECTION was coming out (he was a guest speaker, and there was a special session for the finalists to chat with Alex, plus one of Adam Sandler's reps). Flash forward to 2010, and Alex Payne is filming THE DESCENDANTS in Hawaii -- which is an adaptation of a book by Kaui Hart Hemmings, whose dad is former Sen. Fred Hemmings... who used to visit his son a couple of doors down from me here in Kailua. Small world, huh?

Nothing came of the Gittes request for my script -- it wasn't for them, his assistant said. But at least they took a look at it. Why? Because of Act 221. The Menehune script was optioned by TalkStory, a locally-based company that went on to produce THE TEMPEST, starring Helen Mirren and directed by Julie Taymor (who is currently suffering the slings and arrows of critics for her Broadway musical version of SPIDER-MAN).  I think it's fair to assume TalkStory wasn't approached to produce the film because of their SyFy Channel movie, AZTEC REX. It was probably because they knew how to work the tax credits angle. And that's a good thing because it's doubtful THE TEMPEST would have been made in Hawaii without that incentive.

On the other hand, many TV and film projects would be done here regardless of the tax breaks because certain producers/directors and stars have the clout to choose where and when they film a project. It's hard to imagine trying to do Hawaii Five-O or THE DESCENDANTS on a soundstage somewhere on the Mainland, just because they could save money on taxes. Some recent romantic comedies shot in Hawaii seemed more like excuses for the stars to hang out in the islands while phoning in their performances.

One thing that critics of Act 221 don't seem to understand is it's not as if the producers are stuffing all that money in their own pockets when they get tax credits. Every TV and movie production is like a small company that sets up shop for a few months -- sometimes years if it's a hit TV series. I'm not a fan of Reagan trickle-down economics, but I've seen the direct effect of having Lost shot on the Windward side. On weekends, my wife and I would see actors dining at Kailua restaurants or shopping in town. Heck, "Hurley" alone may have had a substantial impact on Foodland sales, judging from his girth and frequent visits to that store and neighboring food places.

The reality though is other states and countries are competing for those Hollywood dollars, and as long as they're offering major incentives such as tax credits, it seems short-sighted and unwise not to offer similar deals. In the long run, every production that is filmed in the islands will continue to be "free" advertising for Hawaii on TV and the internet long after the actors and crews have packed up and left.

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You still have another week to catch the current episode of Career Changers TV on OC16. For daily viewing times and links to useful resources, please visit www.CareerChangers.tv and check out videos from past shows on our CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo!

Local TV Growing on OC16

February 14th, 2011
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It wasn't the Grammys exactly, but last week OC16 had their own awards for homegrown TV shows at the Honolulu Country Club. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other producers and television personalities who have become synonymous with long-running programs on Oceanic Time-Warner's uniquely local channel. It's been so successful that Time-Warner sent mainland people here to study the OC16 model with the idea they may export it to other markets.

If you haven't checked out OC16 lately, you might be surprised to see the variety of programming and quality of the shows that are offered. To be honest, my Career Changers TV show has a ways to go before we can match the graphics, editing and camera work on the better programs. The mainstays of high school sports, surf and ocean-related TV programming has expanded to music, entertainment, crafts, real estate and technology news in the islands. Mitzi Lehano, the VP of Programming, also has been promoting the addition of OC16 Interactive on digital channel 96 (or 951 if you have high-def). As she pointed out, people watch television differently now. Increasingly, we're turning to video on demand options or recording programs to fit our busy schedules.

You don't even need a TV to watch those shows. Past episodes can be viewed right on their website: http://www.oc16.tv/shows

Guess which program was their highest rated show for 2010 based on total viewers? Nope, not Da Braddahs or Tiny TV. Wasn't the popular music series, Overdrive Live, or Dis-N-Dat. The "Show of the Year" award went to Hawaii Goes Fishing, produced by Dean Sensui -- a career changer himself. Some of you may recognize his name from photo credits in the old Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He joined the fishing show as a part-time camera guy around 2004 and became a full-time producer in 2008. Even if you're not an avid fisherman, you might get hooked on it (sorry, could never resist an easy pun). The program has a nice mix of topics, including cooking seafood, boating tips and fishing trips to faraway places as well.

My original CCTV producing partner, Ron Darby, won the "Producer's Choice" award for The Pet Hui, which has been one of OC16's most popular series over the years. I voted for Ron too because he consistently finds interesting and entertaining pet-related stories that go beyond the typical cutesy puppies and kittens stuff you might expect. He's also taught me a lot about producing... but I have a lot more to learn.

For me, it was an honor to be in the same room with so many talented, dedicated people. Until I got involved with the Career Changers TV show, I had no idea how much time and effort it takes to create new content every week. And for the most part, few are making big bucks. Each producer must line up their own advertisers and sponsors, which is a challenge in itself -- especially in a weak economy. Many of them work out "trade" arrangements in lieu of cash for advertisers. But I don't think money is the primary motivation for the majority of them... they really take pride in what they do.

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Speaking of the old Star-Bulletin, here's a link to my "Addicted to Life" column about the science behind love, which I wrote for Valentine's Day in 2007. Later research has confirmed the connections between brain chemistry and addictive behavior.

For daily viewing times and other useful job-related links, please visit our CCTV website and YouTube Channel... or as mentioned earlier, check us out on OC16 Interactive Channel 96 and 951. Mahalo!

Big Job Shifts Coming

February 9th, 2011
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In our current OC16 show, Success Advertising Hawaii President Beth Busch shares her views on the economic outlook and has some interesting comments. Since she runs the biggest job fair in the state and talks daily with employers, her opinions carry considerable weight. One thing she noted really bears watching: a recent survey shows that 73 percent of currently employed workers are looking to change jobs as soon as the economy improves enough for them to make a move.

Think about that for a moment. Locally, the Disney Aulani Resort will be hiring over a thousand people. Construction companies that have landed major government contracts are hiring again. If rail gets the greenlight, there will be thousands of additional job openings. And many of those positions will be filled by people who have been waiting to leave their present jobs for various reasons. That means someone will need to be hired to replace them.

Are you ready to make a career move? If you're unsatisfied with your existing job, this could be your chance to find new opportunities or renegotiate your work responsibilities at your current company. Want more pay or a bigger role in the operations? Now is the time to start planning strategy to take advantage of people leaving, or leverage other employer offers that may be coming your way. Do it tactfully though -- don't burn bridges. Build them while you can, so whatever you choose to do, it will be on a positive note.

I know a manager who is great at what she does. But she works for a large corporation that is out of touch with its front line workers. Instead of offering suggestions that could improve company morale, she and her co-workers put up with corporate policies and procedures that make them want to quit -- and that's what they're all planning to do as soon as they get a better job offer. Why not at least try to make positive changes there before walking away? If no one tells the top execs what's wrong, they won't have any reason to change their policies. Yes, it's risky... but good bosses want to hear the truth. If they don't, then you'll feel completely vindicated when you give them two weeks notice to accept another job offer. (Also, it costs a lot for employers to replace good people so they're not likely to fire someone simply for making suggestions, IMO.)

In any event, get ready for the big job shifts that are coming in the second quarter. Update your resume. Network all you can -- social events, business mixers, join groups related to your interests. Try Linked In and Facebook to connect with more people. Exercise or walk more. You'd be surprised at how doing something physical will make you feel mentally sharper, more relaxed, and it will reflect in the way you look as well. Instead of waking up with a sense of dread, do one small thing each day that will get you closer to your goal, whether it's finding a new job or earning a promotion.

Don't sit back and passively wait for opportunities to come your way. Go out and make them happen. And remember the number one rule in selling: You don't ask, you don't get.

Here's a link to a good U.S. News & World Report article on "5 Job-Hunting Ideas You Haven't Tried."

To find daily viewing times for the latest Career Changers TV episode, which includes the aforementioned Beth Busch interview, please visit www.CareerChangers.tv and check out videos from past shows on our CCTV YouTube Channel.