Navigating The Industry with Director & Producer, Rick Friedberg

Friday 2 November 2018

Director and Producer Rick Friedberg has worked on award winning Documentaries, TV commercials, music videos, feature films and Television series- such as The Twilight Zone,  CSI:Miami, Scorpion and Bravo's hit franchise: The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Rick is also the author of 'Hollywood War Stories: How to Survive in the Trenches' which covers ALL aspects when it comes to seeking a career in the industry.

Today, Rick has been kind enough to share a few insights with us, so keep on reading to hear his top tips!

You have worked on projects such as The Twilight Zone television series and Bravo’s hit franchise The Real Housewives of Orange Country. What first inspired you to begin your career in this industry, and can you share with us how your first ‘break in’ the industry came to be?

Being an avid reader from the age of 6, I always wanted to be a writer.  

In college, I took an elective course called Cinema Appreciation.  We were blessed to see some of the great films of history - my passion morphed into wanting to be a director.  

My first job was in NY as a gofer/PA in TV commercials.

I borrowed the company’s camera and “short ends” of film and made my own little TV commercial parody.  It won the first annual 60 second film award in Chicago.  I then moved to L.A. and went to work as an editor and assistant director in TV commercials. 

Once again, I borrowed the company’s camera and got a small advance from the Wyoming State Travel Commission and made a documentary on Rodeo Cowboys.  It won several national film festivals and gained attention from an investor in Texas, for whom I made a documentary on a college football coach.  

He gave me seed money to make a trailer, one sheet poster and with my co-writers, Dick Chudnow and Nick Castle, wrote KGOD (aka PRAY TV)  which got financed as my first feature for Filmways/Orion and was chosen by Charles Champlin - then film critic for the LA Times, as his entry into the critics’ choice USA film festival in Dallas.

From your own experiences, can you share your top 4 tips that you feel are essential for becoming a professional and successful Producer/Director? 

  • 1. Get any job you can in the film/tv business, learn as much as you can, work as hard as you can to get noticed and make your own films however you can.
  • 2. Get or write a great script and show it to people you know and respect then submit it anywhere you can get referred to to mount as a film.
  • 3. Never stop knocking on doors to meet people and show your work.
  • 4. Always have another script or film idea ready before you finish working on what you’re producing/directing.
CONCLUSION: Stop waiting for the opportunities to come to you! Get out there and MAKE it happen! Always be creating something, working or thinking about your next idea. While you've submitted something and waiting to hear back, be busy working on your next project. 

What would you consider to be the most important of these skills as an emerging writer/director or producer?

  • Write and or direct something you know about.  
  • Be so passionate about it, you’ll do anything to get it made/sold.  

CONCLUSION: Stick to what you know, the passion will show in your work and make it easier to 'sell' and 'shop' around for interest from other industry contacts. Do your research into whom it may garner interest from - know who you'll be pitching your project to and WHY your project is something they should be interested in!

What advice do you have for other filmmakers and writers when It comes to networking and building professional relationships within the industry?

  • Join all of the many networking sites available.  
  • Meet people in the industry through friends. 
  • Always have something interesting to share as an idea, script or film.

CONCLUSION: Be ready to talk about what you're working on - not in a rehearsed parrot fashion (that's not how you make connections!), but confident enough to share your passions and ideas. Networking is a skill all in itself, and the opportunities to connect are everywhere. So be ready, you never know who might ask you about your project and might be able to put you in contact with somebody else down the line.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given regarding working as a filmmaker, and would you mind sharing this with us?

My best advice came too late.  

That is standing up for yourself and your beliefs no matter what adversity you face from people whose opinion not only differs from yours, but also don't know/believe in anything you respect.

CONCLUSION: Trust your gut instinct, and when to take on board feedback from others. Remember, listening to them doesn't mean you have to do it their way! There is always a way to do something, it just might not be the way you envisioned it. This journey is yours, and only you know how much you really want something. 

So stop waiting for permission, and get out there and do it your way! 

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