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Can I start with a not ordinary question, nowadays how difficult is it to be a Hollywood producer and how does everything begin?

To be honest, it has always been difficult to be a Hollywood producer, because there are so many different pieces of a puzzle a producer needs to bring together to be able to complete a production. Then once the production is finished, the producer must have really good distribution to be sure many people will see their film and that it will hopefully return the money invested in it and possibly a profit. Unfortunately for independent producers there aren’t a lot of good, trustworthy distributors out there, so it is really difficult to return all your investors’ money back to them after the film has been made and distributed. Some of the initial things a producer must do is to first find a really good script and that is almost impossible, especially if you don’t have or aren’t working with a really talented screen writer, who has films you can watch that have been produced from other scripts they have written. Everyone thinks they are a great screenwriter, the proof is when scripts you have written have been made into movies. You can’t make a good movie from a bad script and it’s hard enough to make a good movie from a good script. Second, you need financing to make the movie and getting the financing to make the movie almost always depends on how good the script is, who will direct the film and who will star in it. It’s also almost impossible to get a well-respected director or star to commit to being part of the film, if you can’t show them that you have the money to make the film, because any big actor or director most likely aren’t going to let you say they are involved in your film, without them having a contract and being paid an initial fee in advance. Then, if you’re lucky enough to have all of the above, you need to be sure you hire a great team to make the film and properly edit it and if you’re talented enough to do that, now you must find a great distributor who will know how to advertise and market it, when and where to show it and hopefully get your investors’ money back. For me, after living in Los Angeles most of my life and over the years opening many different businesses and failing at almost every one of them, I realized I needed to focus on one business and try to become the best at it. I understood I was very social and outgoing and had made a lot of very good contacts over the years, especially with people in the Hollywood movie making industry that would dine at a restaurant I owned in Beverly Hills. After talking to many of these people about Hollywood and producing films there, I decided that producing was the career I wanted to focus on and began learning everything I could about putting films together. Thanks to all the good friends and contacts I had made and the networking I had done, one year after I began, I Executive Produced my first film called The Tic Code and it wasn’t easy putting it together and it definitely wasn’t very profitable for one year of work. Over the next 20+ years I put together ten more films, but more as a hobby rather than a business and it was because of producing films that I started meeting many actors and in 2001 opened Doors to Hollywood which became my main business and after taking more than 130 actors and bands to Russia and the former CIS, here I am now working in the UAE and GCC.

How easy is the process to order a Star? What specifically do we need to know to book a Celebrity for the event, any pitfalls?

For someone that really knows the business, the process of booking a star is very easy, as long as your client knows what they want and need to accomplish from hiring that star and as long as they have the budget to pay for the star they want? The most important thing is that if my client knows which star they would like and has the budget to pay them, the next most important thing is to write a very clear offer to see if that star is interested and available to do what my client is asking. A clear offer means spelling out everything your client needs the star to do, where and for how long and in great detail. The more detailed you can be, the better chance you will have getting everything you want the star to do should that star accept your offer. The biggest problem clients have when trying to procure a star, is they forget they’re dealing with a star and ask for too many things, too much of the star’s time, or things that aren’t reasonable for a star to do.

You know that many people are not booking a Celebrity because of the common opinion it is very expensive, can you give the approximate range of prices and names?

I completely understand that booking a star is expensive and the reason they are so expensive is that when used properly, they bring a lot of attention and value to a product, forum, company or event. Names like Michael Jordan associated with Nike took that company to a whole new level overnight and there are hundreds, if not thousands of other examples of celebrities promoting companies and products which then became overnight successes. The key is understand how to properly use the star to maximize your return on the investment in that celebrity. It is very difficult to give names and price ranges because they are all so different and much depends on what you’re asking of the celebrity. Do you want them to attend an event, speak at a forum, go to a film festival, attend a private party, have dinner with a VIP, or do a massive advertising and marketing campaign? Do you need them for an hour, a day, or for a week? Prices vary greatly between celebrities and the events they are requested to attend and perform at.

Your recommendation for our readers?

My recommendation to your readers is to understand that working with celebrities is a lot of fun and if used properly can bring you, your company and friends much fun and much more attention, publicity and revenue. The key is to know what you need and how much you can pay for it. It is also very important to know the right broker/agent to work with, so you are sure to get the best price, terms and easiest celebrity to work with for the amount of money you’re paying. In far too many deals I see there is more than one broker between the buyer/client and the celebrity, because the buyer selected an agent that isn’t really connected to the celebrity or their management, so that broker needs to call another broker/agent for help and then sometime the second broker needs to call a third and by the time the second or third broker gets to the star, without knowing, the client is paying three commissions rather than one commission, should the client have chosen the most connected broker/agent from the beginning.