Author Archives: Kyle O'Donnell

Warner Bros. Studios evolves with new CEO

By Kyle O’Donnell

Caption goes here. (Lindsay Ivins)

The long history of Warner Bros. Studios is taking a turn as the company introduces its fifth CEO and makes other changes. (Lindsay Ivins)

Yakko, Wakko and Dot may not be running amok on the studio lot, but Warner Brothers Studios is still a hectic place.

One of the most recognizable studios in Hollywood, Warner Brothers is undergoing significant changes in several areas.

The studio, which marked is 90th birthday on April 4, recently named the fifth CEO in its history. The stability of the company’s leaderships is responsible for its success, said Sue Fleishman, executive vice president of worldwide communications at Warner Brothers.

Kevin Tsujihara took over as CEO on March 1. Former CEO Barry Meyer will remain chairman until the end of the year and will mentor Tsujihara throughout the year, Fleishman said.

An expansion area for Warner Brothers is new markets outside of the United States, Fleishman said.

“That’s where the future lies,” she said.

But with new markets comes a new challenge for an entertainment company dependent on copyrighted material such as television shows, movies and music. International markets where Warner Brothers wants to expand have significant piracy issues, Fleishman said.

She noted that the future success of the company is dependent not only on the addition of new markets and new revenue streams but the subtraction of poor-performing entities.

Warner Brothers will now be a smaller, more focused company with the shedding of AOL and its magazines from Time Warner, Fleishman said.

Fleishman also talked about her role as chief communicator and said the website Deadline has changed the way that the entertainment industry is covered.

As a result of entertainment websites, Warner Brothers became a leaky organization, Fleishman said, with information released at sometimes inappropriate times. That behavior has been more controlled recently, she said.

 (Chad Garland)

Warner Bros. Studios, now 90-years-old, aims to become smaller and more focused. (Chad Garland)

“We try to be as forthcoming as we can,” Fleishman said. “We need the press.”

However, she admitted that the company would give only a ballpark estimate on movie budgets, not line-by-line financial details.

Fleishman described the studio’s latest film, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” as the sixth consecutive financial flop for Warner Brothers. She knew about the poor performance before the movie opened at the box office and anticipated questions from the media.

A significant business venture for Warner Brothers is its construction and design team.

Jim McGrory, manager of construction services, described his job as like “being in Santa’s workshop.”

With an onsite construction mill spanning 200,000 square feet, Warner Brothers design team works on both internal and external projects, said McGrory, who is a classically trained architect.

In this business, some of the work of the construction and design teams is only used for a brief period despite the intense labor. For example, the construction team spent four months building and two months deconstructing a set for the film “The Hangover 2,” McGrory said. The production team used the set for only a few days of shooting.

Warner Brothers Studios also contracts construction and design services for projects at other companies such as Guess Jeans and Bass Pro Shops, McGrory said. The department also created a canister resembling the chamber of a revolver for Red Bull, which was used for sales presentations.

When it comes to in-house TV production, the company often relies on its fans to provide immediate feedback, said general clerk Mike Shulman. The public can receive free tickets to watch a sitcom filming with the idea that they will provide instant feedback on the quality of the television show.

Bob Beresh, manager of feature sales, and Bill Angarola, vice president of post production services, described sound editing as a business within itself.

From a hiring standpoint, the sound department tends to look for candidates with a music background, Beresh said.

“You can think in a sound world,” he said of those with music skills.

The sound department can be working on up to 300 projects at a time, Angarola said.

Marketing company helps new actors ‘get discovered’

By Kyle O’Donnell

Caption goes here.

Ian Michaels started Padded Envelopes, a company that disburses resumes and headshots for actors, in 2009. (Kyle O’Donnell)

While making it in Hollywood seems like the impossible dream, just getting an agent to respond to an email or a phone call can be a fairytale itself.

For aspiring actors, getting access to agents is a difficult and time-consuming process. That’s where one industry has emerged in Los Angeles – marketing companies that match potential talent with agents.

These marketing companies help actors to get headshots and resumes in the hands of agents.

Ian Michaels, an actor and filmmaker whose acting credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “High Fidelity”, originally moved to Los Angeles in 2001 after graduating from Loyola University Chicago.

In 2009, he started Padded Envelopes, a company that sends headshots and resumes to agents and talent directors.

With classes and research for roles, actors do not have the time to put into mailing out headshots and contacting agents, Michaels said. Often the creative mindset of an actor does not matchup with the business mindset.

Kara Ortiz, owner of AMP Subs, originally moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and founded her company in 2010. She found success as an actor, but it only took up so many hours in the day, she said.

“I have been very successful as an actress and been very blessed,” she said. But Ortiz also wanted to help others find success.

“They don’t have to do everything on their own,” she said about the need to try to make business connections.

Michaels said that the goal for Padded Envelopes is to increase the exposure for an actor.

Most of the company’s clients eventual sign with an agent, he said.

Padded Envelopes sets its limit at 80 clients at a time, and the goal is to have constant turnover as actors sign with agents, Michaels said.

Most clients should be with Padded Envelopes for only three months before they’ve moved on to representation, he said. If a client is with Padded Envelopes for four months, that’s his clue that the company needs to figure out what’s not working in order to best serve the client.

The company’s services range from customized postcards for casting directors to headshots and resume services, according to Padded Envelopes’ website. Postcard services cost $115 to design, print and send 100 postcards, while basic resume service is $75 per month with an initial fee of $120.

Ortiz said that AMP Subs currently has about 200 clients, but it can take on as many as 300 aspiring actors.

AMP Subs charges $125 for the first month and $50 for each additional month, according to its website. A four-month commitment is $225 for the first four months and $150 for the next four months.

Michaels said that the industry is filled with rejection, and actors need to treat their craft like any day job. Success requires hard work.

“It’s like anything else, but tenfold,” Michaels said about acting.

Any sort of tool that can help an actor needs to be used.

“They need to take that opportunity,” he said.

Michaels admitted that some aspiring actors aren’t so realistic. If a prospective client wants a regular gig on a television show and representation by Creative Arts Agency within six months, Padded Envelopes will probably pass, he said.