Category Archives: industry

Photos. Brian Henson at USC.

Brian Henson

Brian Henson speaks at a USC screening of Labyrinth
Brian Henson speaks at a USC screening of Labyrinth. Alessandro Ago moderates.

Brian Henson

May 7, 2015

I thought I could stay to meet Mr. Henson after, but the fans had many questions to get through so maybe next time. The Henson and company’s presence is in plenty of beloved entertainment, from cult favorites such as Labyrinth to the ubiquitous Star Wars.

Oh, years ago at my agency I happened to have met of the Muppeteers, Bill Barretta, who was quite polite. So I hope the new Muppet show does well for everyone involved and maybe there will be a panel for that.


Marigold Muppala speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Marigold Muppala, DreamWorks Animation Studios

Marigold Muppala speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Liron Topaz speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Liron Topaz, DreamWorks Animation Studios

Liron Topaz speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Hank Driskill speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Hank Driskill, Walt Disney Animation Studios

USC SIGGRAPH industry panel

Hank Driskill speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student Chapter
Hank Driskill speaks at USC SIGGRAPH Student ChapterUSC SIGGRAPH industry panel


April 23, 2015


Mr. Driskill and Ms. Muppala were in conversation before the panel so, seeing Mr. Topaz free, I talked to him a little while the students waited in line for their food. They were serving Chipotle. Continue reading

Photos. Production designer Rick Heinrichs at USC.

Production designer Rick Heinrichs
Production designer Rick HeinrichsProduction designer Rick Heinrichs speaks at USC School of Cinematic Arts.


April 21, 2015.

As I ran toward the school, I glanced down, and stopped short. I was supposed to change into my white Jack Purcells. But still had on my ragged Converse. I could run back to my car, but classic American in a worn moody gray? This could fit into a few of his films.

“If anyone would approve, it’s Tim Burton’s production designer,” I reasoned. That, and nobody really cares what shoes I wear.

I was about twenty minutes early, but figured students would be eager to hear from this speaker, so I hurried on.

It was a presentation by Rick Heinrichs, Academy Award winning production designer. Professor Rene Bruckner was teaching CTCS-469, “Battle of the Stylists – Tim Burton vs. Wes Anderson.” The nice thing about a school like USC is you don’t just study the films, you can learn from the filmmakers themselves. Continue reading

Write-up. Ron Meyer at USC.

March 25, 2015

Well. I have no photos for a write up of a Ron Meyer event I went to. I looked around on Twitter and Google and saw no one really talking about it. Where we not supposed to? When I do look, not too often about any of the things I do really. I find it odd. Anyway.

Here, real quick is how that started.

I usually ask for permission before the event. But this one was run by someone unfamiliar to me. I approached a group that looked in charge.

“Are you a student?” asked a woman.

“No—” My cousin is. She’s a freshman.

“Look at her, she’s a professional photographer.”

“I look like a professional photographer?” I looked down at my eight year old camera and faded dress that’s nearly as old. It’s not like I was sporting a telephoto L lens and Chanel. “I take them for myself.”

“Okay. Who are you?”

“I’m—a WME client.”

Mr. A. chuckled and said, “That’s not gonna help you here.” I understood protecting the panelist, but his tone seemed derisive. It ain’t fun being a nobody in Hollywood.

My expectations for the evening quickly calibrated, I rushed to refeed the meter—it only took an hour at a time. I ran into a man in the entryway.

I had looked up the speaker before the event, but he didn’t look like what I expected him to, if that’s who it was. He didn’t bark at me and so I studied him a second. He seemed nice. I was going to just ask, “Are you Ron Meyer? And if so, do you mind if I take pictures of you?” But decided if he was friends with the fellow inside, it would cause trouble, so not wanting to look stupid for not knowing if it was him, I apologized for nearly knocking him over and made my way out to the car.

When I heard Mr. Meyer was speaking at USC, what sparked my attention was that he worked at William Morris. I tend to think that’s cool. (I knew he was head of Universal Pictures, but that means little to someone at this point in my career.) But he’s not just any former WMA-er.

In 1975, five William Morris agents left and formed what would become their former employer’s chief rival. When I first got into the business, the idea of CAA was they were a monolith, less cozy than what used to a relatively familial William Morris. (It’s been different since the merger though and still in flux.) My boyfriend at the time came back from a meeting there one day bringing me back a while pencil with the red logo. He was right to guess that I would be intrigued by this artifact. l examined it, and tried to determine its environment before it got to me. “Do you know they call it the Death Star?” I asked.

But perhaps it is not quite the cold and corporate as painted. Or maybe it is, I have no idea! I do know, having only started to meet some former CAA folks, who’ve moved onto to other areas of the industry, they have made a generally good impression.


This is going to take too long. And I have too many photos I have promised to post.

Let’s see if I can give a short version. I identified with his immigrant parent, no fancy schooling background. I had read he used to get into some trouble sounds like, liked to shoot pool. (The latter of those I used to—I was mediocre, better at Vietnamese poker.) Anyway, people these days would probably write off someone like that. But he changed the trajectory. With a little bit of luck. Made his life into something. He was a sort of Gatsby. Or, a prequel anyway.

I want that. Every time I’m handing out one of my cards and making that awkward pitch. But don’t take it as me saying, Hey, peas in a pod. No.

Everyone there had their own ways of identifying with him. There were questions about agency life at CAA, Universal, questions about parks and movies, about his time in the Marines. While I think they did want to hear the answer, I also believe most just wanted some sort of connection. Proudly adding they were starting a job somewhere, or knew about something he was in charge of or someone he liked or liked him. Hoping for more.

He believes in his studio, its content and parks. There his sometimes offhand, casual tone drew an edge, flashing steely competitiveness underneath an amiable, almost chivalrous persona. Not a bad thing. And not uncommon in his ranks.

It must work. He seemed well-liked and the way he talked to everyone at the event, was winning. Interesting, gracious.

I was going to write about his advice for me, but I’m going to do that another time. I have another post ready to go then getting ready for tomorrow.

Gotta get up at six to San Diego in the morning for some acting workshops. Getting up at six is not a problem. Getting up at six and driving three and half hours to someplace I’ve not been is not a problem. Getting up at six and driving and trying to look pretty and charming and be an acting ace for a whole day which is entirely different from a booked job mind you is going to be interesting.

Photos. Rick Carter, production designer.

Rick Carter, production designer
Production designer Rick Carter speaks at a USC screening of Looking Back on It: The Creative Journey of Rick Carter

USC professor Pablo Frasconi
USC professor Pablo Frasconi

Is he being a dinosaur? No. He was talking about the need to hold onto a. . . hm. . . it’s late and I can’t recall or I’m mixing it up with my own mottos and pep talks. I think he said sometimes you need to have something to hold on to. Existentially or psychologically.

production designer, Rick Carter
USC professor Alex McDowell and Rick Carter
USC professor Alex McDowell and Rick Carter

Talking about working with Steven Spielberg.

Alan Holzman and Alex McDowell
Alan Holzman and Alex McDowell

Alex McDowell and Rick Carter
Alex McDowell and Rick Carter

March 5, 2015. Los Angeles CA. USC.

Photos. House of Cards at USC.

March 5, 2015. Los Angeles.

Actor Michael Kelly and director James Foley discuss their craft and career with USC students following a screening of season three, episode one of House of Cards.

It was a full house, standing room only.

I had heard it was a good show but don’t have Netflix and hadn’t seen it at all. I’m always eager, perhaps annoyingly so, asking working actors while at the agency questions about theater and on-camera gigs, this could be a chance to hear just that kind of thing. Luckily there wasn’t too much in the way of fan canon minutia and plenty of industry experience imparted.

Acting theory and technique, practicalities of memorizing scripts. (I really really liked that Michael, who plays Doug Stamper, basically said it’s putting in the time.) Working with different directors, including actress Robin Wright.

For directing, how to go from having one’s style or voice define a work to working within a shared series, how episodes are assigned, changing tact with different actors.

For both of them, what it’s like working on this kind of production, compared to other series or films. Other things that came up included filming in Baltimore. In answering what it’s like working with production company MRC (Media Rights Capital), exec notes (or lack of them in this case) got a laugh. I think everyone who spends any amount of time in the industry hears their share of notes, yes, even or especially ones trying to break in, so it’s nice to get some commiseration.

Another question that got a laugh was from a young French lady who commented on its popularity in countries such as France, then asked if they worried about its effect on perception of US politics abroad. I’m guessing it’s bad and therefore are they worried it’ll make other countries think poorly of America. Michael laughed and said, Oh, we know what France thinks of us. (I don’t think most Americans have any delusions of how we’re perceived abroad.)

Mr. Foley gave a little history lesson on maybe why TV has been historically a writer vs director medium and how it can change as we progress. He chatted a bit about how he’s grown from when he directed Glengarry Glen Ross, which I’ll have to rewatch and compare to the series when I get a chance.

Ah. A young man tried to help me by telling me I should up my ISO. My camera goes up to 1600 and I was quite far back, so that was as fast and as long an exposure as I was going to get. Not ideal and I don’t think the photos turned out as well. But I really enjoyed the panel. Everyone seemed happy to be there, both on stage and in the audience.