At times crushingly obvious — who wouldn’t know, for example, that it’s time- consuming to traverse L.A.’s freeways or that temp jobs are a good way to get one’s foot in the door — Levy is on most solid ground when he draws from personal experience and describes those first arduous steps one must take to enter the golden gates of Hollywood.
“Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring,” he writes. “You need to be aggressive and follow through with everyone to whom you sent your resume.”
Levy enumerates precise job descriptions of a film’s above-the-liners and below-the-liners, and ably explains the complex ways story readers and creative executives, agents and managers, producers and their crews interact while helping to transport a film from page to screen.
He’s no William Goldman, however. Compared with Goldman’s accounts of the screen trade, Levy’s book feels limited by the range of his experiences. Many of the books’ best moments come second-hand, through the insights of others more versed in the specific tasks described: interviews with helmer Jon Turteltaub (“While You Were Sleeping”) and scribes Dean Pitchford (“Footloose”) and Daniel Yorst (“Drugstore Cowboy”) are among the strongest sections in the book. (Pitchford’s saga of writing 22 drafts of “Footloose” after responding to disparate notes from two studios, two directors and several producers, speaks volumes about a writers’ travails in Hollywood).
Still, if you’re reading this publication, chances are you’ve already gotten through “101” and may want to pass this on to a young friend who lives far from the glitz and glamor — and the everyday frustrations of a career in the business.