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Hacking Hollywood Blog Review

About Robert Cornero: Cinematic Fanatic since 1986: I’m a writer, adventurer, and much more with a ridiculous goal: I intend to have 1 film written and sold in 1 year. I’d love to connect with you as we pursue art together.
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I’ve had the privilege over the past week or so to spend some time with one of the first copies of Making it in Hollywood, a new book from authors Bryan Hidalgo and Gail O’Donnell. In the interest of full disclosure, I will let the reader know that I have met Gail previously and she asked me to write a review some months ago, once the book was completed and published. I am not being compensated for this review in any way. That said, let’s get into it!

The book itself if mammoth; over 600 pages containing more than 100 interviews with actors, writers, directors, and producers, organized by profession, and alphabetized therein. One of the things that instantly struck me (besides the size) was the level of talent interviewed in the book. These aren’t 600 pages of filler. Everyone in this book has been involved in A-list, top tier projects, and you’ll find some of the biggest names in the movie game, sharing their personal stories, experiences, and best bits of advice on how to succeed in the Film and Television entertainment world.

Personally, I plowed through the “Screenwriters” section, and then hopped around, reading an interview here and there that I found intriguing. In fact, the book is designed in such a way that you can read it sequentially or you can read a section at a time. Even still, you can read it single interview by single interview, like I did. Each interview is substantial enough to entertain the inquisitive, and compact enough to digest in a short sitting; in other words, it’s the perfect book to pick up whenever, either to read for a short time, or to become engrossed in, page after page. The questions are similar for each professional, with a bit of variation pertaining to their specific body of work. It’s fascinating to see so many perspectives and hear about all the different paths these artists and professionals took to find their success.

I have to admit, I love books like this. Why? Because I love crowdsourcing, particularly crowdsourcing wisdom, especially hard-earned type of wisdom gained from mistakes. If I can learn from someone else and prevent myself from making the same mistakes they did, you can bet that I am going to pay attention. Even more so, the book is beneficial as a who’s who guide to Hollywood. Getting to know the faces and the stories behind the movies is hugely beneficial, especially to the aspiring writer. There is something to glean from everyone in this book.

But the big take-away I get from the book is this: You are not alone in your journey. Indeed, you musn’t be alone! There’s no denying this fact: the movie business is Hollywood. The problem is Hollywood can be a very lonely and isolating place; a place filled with rejection and fear. Nearly everyone in Hollywood is non-native, far away from home, and they are out here on their own, forging their own hopeful way. This is true for all career paths but especially true for the writer, who you’ll often find cooped up in a room with only a computer and their thoughts for hours, even days at a time, attempting to make art.

But all the really successful people in this book had one thing in common. Yes, they were hard working, intelligent, talented, and persistent – but those are just the prerequisites. Beyond all those admirable qualities, these are people who actively refuse to isolate themselves and instead, teamed up with like-minded people, forged powerful relationships, and helped carry each other through the rough times to get their material and themselves out there. They became part of the Hollywood community through their hard work and skill, but they helped others to succeed along the way. In return, they themselves were helped. The examples elaborated on in the book are numerous: Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis instantly spring to mind, but there are so many individuals that this could apply to. Put simply, I think that’s the heart of this book: you are not alone in this. After being here for a while, I think this is a reminder everyone could benefit from hearing.

Obviously, there is so much information in this book that it’s hard to condense into a review like this. I’d highly recommend purchasing the book to all who are trying to figure out how to make it themselves so that they, too, can glean the condensed, collected wisdom contained within its pages. You’ll be encouraged, emboldened, and all the wiser for doing so.  Moreover, a portion of the profits for each sale goes directly to a great cause; Save the Children. All in all, it makes a fantastic addition to your screenwriting library, and you’d be supporting a fantastic charity in the process.