What Do You Want to Learn About the TV Industry?

career, how hollywood works: TV

I was 14-years-old when I started working in restaurants. As I slipped into a polo shirt and pleated khakis, my father gave me his version of a pep-talk, tinged with a sensitivity known only to drill sergeants and Asian fathers:

“Remember: You don’t know as much as you think you know.

“So keep you mouth shut,” he said. “Watch and listen.”

Inspiring! However…

14 years later and the advice stuck with me. What my father meant:

Go into everything with an open mind.

Listen before passing judgment.

And spend the time to learn about people and their opinions. They may know something you don’t.

[click to continue…]

Get Your First Hollywood Job: How to Answer Tough Questions

first hollywood job, interviewing

FasctCo featured a list of the weirdest interview questions in 2013, compiled by Glassdoor.com.

Glassdoor’s new list came out for 2014. Here are a few highlights:

“If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office what type of parade would it be?” – Zappos

“How lucky are you and why?” – AirBnB

“If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?”– Red Frog Events

Unfortunately, knowing these oddball questions won’t help you when you’re interviewing for your first Hollywood job. [click to continue…]

Get to Do vs. Have to Do

career, personal stories, zen assistant

A quick thought today:

I recently got a puppy. His name is Deefer.


Turns out puppies don’t come out of the box with operating instructions and batteries included. It requires a lot of work to figure them out. You also have to:

  • Walk ‘em
  • Snuggle with ‘em
  • And clean up its shit

I love him. Which doesn’t change the fact, however, that for the last 28 years my only agenda has been the climb. My sole focus for the past 4 years has been moving to LA, getting my first Hollywood job, and when I did that, surviving the 80-hour weeks.

Deefer quite frankly, doesn’t care.

When he wants to play, he plays.

When he wants to eat, he eats.

And when he needs to go bathroom, I better take him for a walk. [click to continue…]

3 Quick and Dirty Interview Tips for Your First Hollywood Job

career, interviewing, job search

This is an email I got from Tim O.:

Hi Chris,

I’m going into an interview today with CBS [redacted] Assistant position that supports three executives and I thought to myself: who better to ask for advice from than Chris?

I appreciate any pointers you can send my way going into this interview. I know you’ve been there before.

Thanks! Hope all is well with you, sir.


Tim O.

tim interview

My reply:

Too much for an email. :)

Feel free to call me, I can talk for the next hour.”

First, Tim is being quite literal when he says, “I know you’ve been there before” as I once assisted for three executives myself.

Second, a few emails later, I learn that Tim’s interview is in less than 4 hours(!) away.

Don’t do this. A week, three days, even the night before… take a second and think about who could possibly help you. Then ask them.

However, since plenty of people will inevitably ignore that here are:

3 Quick and Dirty Tips to Ace Your Hollywood Interview [click to continue…]

How To Measure Success

career, personal stories

I have a cousin who set the bar for success in my family.

“I never went into an interview and didn’t get it.”

This was my aspiration for a long time.

It was my own brag, actually, through most of college.

“I get everything I applied for.”

Then college ended and real life beckoned. For the next 8 years, I proceeded not to get anything I applied to. Never in the first round, anyway.

Which is a similar theme in the career’s of people I respect the most:

Dennis Lehane told me: [click to continue…]

Showrunner’s Assistant or Writer’s Assistant? Advice from a Producer on Mad Men

career, writer's room

I was happy with my friends’ advice about what was a better career move: Showrunner’s Assistant (SA) or Writer’s Assistant (WA)?

Both seemed to think SA was the better move:

  • You get to meet more people.
  • You see the macro world of television.
  • There’s more job security.

Made sense to me.

Then I sat down with an Emmy-award winning writer/producer on MAD MEN…

And wow. Easily some of the best advice I ever heard.

She shared a few tips, but most importantly, shared 3 nuggets of advice I never really considered…

Despite having spoken to other writers and working in the industry and reading hundreds of blog posts on building your career in Los Angeles.

If you’re looking to get into a writer’s room, and ever wondered which would be a better position, Showrunner’s Assistant or Writer’s Assistant, keep reading.

Her advice could save you somewhere in the ball park of 2 to 3 years of your life.

[click to continue…]