The 6 Kinds of Hollywood Currency
There are six kinds of Hollywood currency.
In no particular order, they are:
Knowledge, relationships, quid pro quo, expertise, talent & cash
Can you guess which one is least valuable?
Talent is the least valuable. Hands down. Because without any of the others, it’s nearly impossible to get anywhere in the entertainment world.
Think about it. You can write a fantastic script or direct a groundbreaking no-budget short, but without getting it read or seen, respectively, by the right person or people, your talent isn’t going to get you out of living in your parent’s basement, much less onto the podium.
(You know which podium I’m talking about. Don’t act dumb.)
You definitely need other forms of Hollywood currency to get your creative and even your business dreams realized. You don’t need all of them, but you will need at least one to get you started on your path. Let’s define them, shall we?
Knowledge- Who’s who and what’s what. How many major studios are there and what are they? Who’s Brian Grazer? How do you get a PA job on a movie? What does a talent agent do? Study up and ask a lot of questions when you are starting out and you can have some of this currency pretty quickly.
Relationships- Who do you know and who do they know? You probably don’t know Brian Grazer unless you went to school with one of his kids, but the guy who runs your college summer program might know someone who can get you a PA job at Leno and your aunt who lives in Phoenix might have an in at Sony. When you are starting out, you may only have 2nd degree connections, but they count. And then you can cultivate your relationships. Stay in touch with the kids you interned with, the fellow BU grads you moved out here with, the girl from your temp job who you had coffee with. Who do you know and who do they know? See how quickly your relationships currency adds up.
Quid Pro Quo- Quid pro quo is defined as “something for something; that which a party receives (or is promised) in return for something he does or gives or promises.” Hollywood runs on quid pro quo. Having someone owe you a favor is like having money in the bank. “I got that guy’s script read by a VP at Summit. He’s going to get my picture published on the back page of the Hollywood Reporter.” “That women got my niece an interview at Overbrook. She’s calling to see if I can get her comp Prince tickets.” It’s not usually that immediate and often not that calculated (though sometimes it is), but when you get to Hollywood, do yourself a favor and do someone else a favor.
Expertise- It’s defined as ”having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.” You will probably arrive in Hollywood with some expertise. How to reconcile a checking account on Quicken, how to coach kids into excellent tennis players, how to produce a student film. Even having an encyclopedic knowledge of reality television is a form of expertise and has value if you choose to seek out the right opportunities. Being able to create a feature movie budget, light a scene on a soundstage, sell the overseas distribution rights to an independent movie– these are examples of Hollywood expertise that you can bank on.
Cash- Cash is cash. If you can come to town a dot-com or real estate billionaire or the offspring of a dry cleaning empire maker, nobody is going to ask you who you know, who owes you, what you know, or what you can do. But though you can buy entree to the entertainment world with cold hard moola, eventually you’ll have to start trading in other forms of currency to have a real career.
So do yourself a favor. Take a mogul to lunch if you can. And loan him five bucks for the valet, too. It’ll be worth it!
Photo by VODcars.
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