HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE OSCARS ... WITHOUT AN AGENT
How to succeed in the creative industries when you're alone
When people say showbusiness is a tough industry to get into they're sugar coating it.
It's a horrific business to get into.
Trying to make it in showbusiness is like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.
You want to storm the beach of success - but from the very start you're hit by bullets of rejection and bombs of humiliation.
And as you get torn apart by a hail of failure - bits of your pride fall out of your body and you start haemorrhaging dignity.
And as you trudge forward - forgetting why you stepped onto this beach - you try to pick up pieces of self-esteem and push them back inside you.
And all around you are groaning souls who've tried to storm the beach but have turned back or fallen by the wayside.
But if you keep putting one foot in front of the other - and if you keep going - with a bit of luck - and the right wind behind you - you CAN take that beach...
…and then you'll probably realise it was the wrong beach and you’re not where you want to be at all…
My name's Lee Kern and for 22 years I tried to make it as a writer in the darkest business on earth - showbusiness.
If you're to have a chance of surviving in this industry the common belief is you need an agent or manager to guide and protect you, to find you work, to pull strings, to use their contacts, to break balls, to slam down phones, to cut you deals and to help you make it to the top.
But I managed to do it on my own, starting from a position of knowing absolutely no one in the business.
Along the way I wrote the most googled comedy show in the world, had my own TV series, won a Writers Guild of America award for screenwriting, wrote a Golden Globe winning movie, wrote a triple Emmy-nominated TV series and was nominated for an Academy Award for screenwriting.
It wasn't easy. Even getting to the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles from London was a mission impossible due to the Covid-19 global travel ban. But in an unbelievable story involving diplomats and a ton of hustle I managed to get on an empty aircraft and make the 11 hour trip to attend the 93rd Acadamy Award Ceremony broadcast live to over 200 countries across 4 different continents.
To have achieved all this with no manager, agent or industry backing is no easy feat.
I think it's fair to say that I must have learned a thing or two along the way.
I must have picked up a few tricks and techniques, a few skills and strategies - a few insights in terms of attitude and philsophy that helped me get here.
And as we go forward I want to share some key bits of this knowledge with my subscribers so that, if you choose to do so, you can apply it to your life and career whether you’re a writer, director, actor, singer, musician - whether you work in an entirely different industry altogether - or if you simply wish to achieve some other life goal.
Even if you're a person after my own heart who deep down doesn't really want to work and just wants to sit in their underpants and eat pizza - these insights might prove insightful, funny - and confirm for you that you’re on a noble path eating takeout in your underwear.
As I tell you the story of my journey from living off £5 a week on food to eating Oscar shaped smoked salmon at the Oscar ceremony - I'm gonna be pretty frank with you - probably too frank.
I guess the first thing to realise is that the metaphorical bloodbath I described at the start of this piece isn’t trying to be amusing. I’m being serious.
This is a rough business full of bullshit, bastards and boys who don’t play nice.
And it gets exponentially worse the closer you get to the top.
Pigs fight and bite hardest when they’re close to the trough.
The worst people I’ve encountered in showbusiness are the worst people I’ve encountered in life full stop.
But if you expect anything worth having in life to come without a bit of suffering - then you’re not being sensible.
But you have as much right to success as anyone else.
No one will give it to you. You have to take it.
You are going to become a badass stoic who bounces back from setbacks with ten minutes of feeling sad for yourself and then a whole day of making pro-active moves.
You’re going to have a blind faith that it’ll work out fine.
And you’re going to remember that the person who walks away after 100 attempts loses to the person who turns up 101 times.
This business is about who can eat the most shit sandwiches - hold it down - and then come back for another serving.
I hope you’ve got the stomach for it.
It’s not all bleak though. There is euphoria and joy to be found if you know where to look - and the jackpot of big bucks is always out there. The beauty of this industry is that just one gig, one melody, one idea, one meeting can turn everything around.
It’s like boxing. One punch can change a whole fight.
We forget this because we accumulate so much disappointment and become conditioned to expect it. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enter your 101st attempt with as much hope as your first.
We’ll get onto this - and some really practical things you can do to advance yourself over the coming weeks.
But let me finish this introduction with some real inspiration for you.
Think about this and think about it for real.
Look how many shit people are successful.
Shit comedians, shit musicians, shit actors, shit writers.
There’s no reason why any of us can’t be just as shit and successful!
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