My Hollywood Family: Roles in the Hollywood Film Industry

My family and I have always been close. From day one, I was not the easiest, most quiet child; still, they managed to effectively put up with me. It’s safe to say they were, and still are my backbone, grandparents included. Even being as tight knit as we are, though, we all possess completely different personalities. In this blog, I am analyzing these personalities vastly different roles within the Hollywood film industry, which can be referenced to in the article Hollywood: The Dream Factory by Hortense Powdermaker. If I pitched an idea for a Hollywood film, and gave my family members specific roles in production, without a doubt, my Gramma would be the director, my dad the producer, my mom the writer and sister the actor.

9807778273_afe6ec792d_zMy grandma likes to be in charge of calling the shots…literally, and in the entertainment industry, that is exactly what the director does. According to Powdermaker, ‘whether the script is assembled or written, it is the director’s job to translate it into a film’ (Powdermaker, 185). Since few in the industry go straight into directing, it’s the experience that takes he or she to the top. With this level of experience comes wisdom, which Gramma is only too happy to tell me she has. Every time I call, the conversation usually ends with something like ‘Listen to me, Gracie, I know what’s best. I was your age once, and you need to do this and this’. What is also true about both my Gramma and directors in Hollywood is that they can be stubborn, and oftentimes opinionated. Since it’s their job to bring the film to life, they feel the need to put as much of themselves into the work as possible. Powdermaker pushes this farther, and goes on to say that ‘the director of course is not always right. Some have developed a special angle and insist on it constantly, whether or not its repetition is advisable’ (Powdermaker, 190). This being said, I don’t advise anyone to attempt to tell my Gramma she is wrong…ever. As the saying goes, it’s her way or the highway. Even with their confidence of being in charge, usually, they have ‘very little understanding of storytelling, of the movie medium, or of human beings’ (Powedermaker, 193). Because of this, directors are known to ‘take an almost infinite number of retakes without any idea of what they are striving for’ (Powdermaker, 193). With the power they have, both directors and Gramma have an overinflated sense of entitlement, but it’s important for them to realize that sometimes they do need help, from people like my dad, the producer.

Since my dad is the one who does a majority of the work in my family, he is the overarching decision maker: the producer. Mom, the writer, is the one who proposes ideas, and comes up with the script. Then, dad decides: he ‘selects the kind of story he wants to film’ (Powdermaker, 111). He works closely with mom, ‘reading what [she] writes, suggesting and commanding during the entire process’ (Powdermaker, 111). This is a reflection of the parental dynamic in my family. My parents have always worked as a team, especially in the beginning of both mine and my sister’s lives, which could be compared to the development of the film. The producer has authority in the casting of actors, and dad, cast us into his life by adopting both my sister and myself as his daughters. Lastly, ‘most producers know nothing or very little about writing, acting, directing, composing, or painting, but they control others who do’ (Powdermaker, 111). Though dad as the producer has knowledge about writing and acting, he stays strong at his job, and continues pushing the film forward.

My mom is literally the creator. As the writer, she is ‘part of the mésalliance which eventually gives birth to the script’ 1write2think(Powdermaker, 131). She was the one to raise us from day one, and as the writer, continues to make changes in the script when needed as the production continues. Before she met my dad, she worked jobs ranging all the way from KFC to a professional photographer at CBS, as ‘most [writers] before coming to Hollywood [make] only a precarious living’ (Powdermaker, 131). Even once they reach a professional level, employment can be hard to find, which is why writing is often not their only job. As far as family goes, ‘for any writers, as well as for other people, one of the major advantages is the ease with which children can be brought up in Los Angeles’ (Powdermaker, 135). Having raised my sister and I in the heart of Los Angeles, it was an ideal location to have dad work, while mom took care of the two of us nearby.

My sister was strong willed as a teenager, and tended not to respect authority. Similar to actors in Hollywood, they are ‘often described as children who do not know what is good for them, immature, irresponsible, completely self-centered [and] egotistical’ (Powdermaker, 254). My sister possessed many of characteristics. She always demanded attention from everyone, even when there was no time for that attention. The writer did her part by rewriting the part for her. The producer tried to guide her performance along the way, but being the temperamental actress, she was hard to corral. As Powdermaker explains, actors in Hollywood ‘must be pampered and kept in good humor with all kinds of blandishments’ (Powdermaker, 254). If my sister didn’t’ get what she wanted, all hell would break lose. The author says that actors in Hollywood will go to extremes as well: ‘he may feign illness and stay home causing financial loss to the studio’ (Powdermaker, 254). Actors are a pain due to their over bloated sense of entitlement, but are obviously important to make a film happen, so it’s good to stay on their good side, even though everyone knows ‘all actors stink’ (Powdermaker, 258). My sister stinks, too. Just kidding. But actually…

Now, all of you may be wondering where I fit in. Well, I’m the final product: the film. Based on the interactions, successes and failures of my family members, I have been formed into who I am today. Though all of these occupations in the industry are vastly different, the way that they connect are very important in determining the outcome of the film. If the dynamic between writer and producer isn’t strong, the film may be lacking in substance. If the dynamic between the director and actor is lacking, the performance may not turn out well. The interconnectedness between the four roles in Hollywood is key to the success of the show or movie, as well as a solid family dynamic.



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