The Value of Copyrights

Copyrighting isn’t as easy anymore. Thanks to Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all copyrights must be registered with the US Government, or else no rights will be acknowledged in the eyes of the court. What brought about this issue? How are we to manage without registry anymore? And why is this a good thing for us Artists?

Since the first copyright of the Statute of Anne of 1710, we’ve all been worried about how strict countries have been about restricting our creative liberties. No one can just draw their own Mickey Mouse without a lawsuit from Disney, nor can anyone feel free to use Sherlock Holmes without permission from New York Socialite, Andrea Plunket. The classics are dead to many of us, thanks to this limitation, and we hardly have the chance to share these great works of art without a nay-sayer getting in the way of our fun!

But, it’s all for the greater good too. William Hogarth made the first copyright for Artists. It’s not a memorable copyright, as it’s been a public domain collection for centuries, but a landmark worth recognizing, nevertheless. In the 1720, the Statute of Anne made William Hogarth rich, thanks to his strategy of making copies of his artworks, through printing press. His limited collections of each artwork allowed a low class school teacher, rank above the middle class within ten years of his lifetime. His money allowed him to buy a manor of his own, and servants to boot. But his fame didn’t come without a price, as many forgers came about to reprint his artworks, and selling them for less than half of what they were originally sold. This diminished their value, and nearly led William Hogarth to bankruptcy. Hence, his fight to create the copyright became nominal for us all.

Today, not only do we have the Sonny Bono/Disney Act of extending a copyright to ninety-five years past the time of the author’s death to wait upon, but we also have copyrights reinstated through buyouts from generations of character ownership. Due to this, we grumble at the idea of kicking a dead horse. “Let it go already!”, we say. “We just want to enjoy it.” But…do we?

During the 1900’s, a highly scandalous novel, called, Le Fleurs du Mal, became public domain. People read it, shared it, and relished in its obscure homosexual and almost violent dominatrix philosophy and story. It’s writhed with promiscuous acts of bondage, and celebrates the lustful perversion of Marquis De Sade wrote about. It would be an ideal book to recreate, re-imagine, and re-told today – due to the vigor of the liberal politics involving our generation today. There are classes to concentrate on Gay History in schools, and even Lesbian romances released online-everywhere. So, why are we not reading this, and talking about this, or even creating fanfics for this?

Answer: no profit, no support.

Most of what we know is due to the fact that someone got paid to publish our fandom. And in order to continue its luster, it requires someone to make money off of the story or artwork, so that quality may be preserved. Otherwise, we’ll all see more Mona Lisa’s losing its three dimensional design to a cracked aged canvas, awaiting for another theif to invite the press for more humiliation.

With Disney, buying out all these films and novels, and artworks – we may have a chance to keep the integrity of these masterpieces alive. Yes, we may enjoy Masters of Margarita silently, as a small society of surreal readers. But can you imagine it becoming a movie or theme park? Think of how many new copies publishers would make of it? One can only dream to purchase a freshly pressed hardback with new illustrations, dust jackets, and reviews! You’d have talking cat toys everywhere, and a living room filled with parafanalia of your favorite scenes. And the jokes wouldn’t be just funny for some, but for everyone. We’d all be laughing, sighing, and smiling at the pages as we flip them together.

It happened with Annie Hall, and it happened with Minecraft. You know how this feels, I’m sure. But there’s always a new generation that only knows what they were introduced to, and many of them don’t even know about Adam and Lilith, but just Adam and Eve.

So, hail to public domain! We can enjoy them for free, and without care. Let’s make art and write songs, and build fandoms about them, until we die. But lo, beware if they go into obscurity, and lose their fans, their followers, and their friends. Who will continue its legacy then? Their children?

Their worth is in repetition, and reach. You lose either in the process, and its fame will diminish like a pillar of sand.

Cherish the copyright. It serves us more than you’d think. It allows the soul to brighten, and remind those that have forgotten it, to realize its value.

Why Producers Keep Producing

There’s something addicting about producing. Whether it’s film, music, video games – though many times, it is a labor of love – the energy behind making something, and potentially making money off of it, is enthralling. At Marina Del Rey, TV Producers live in their cars, eat at Starbucks, and pay for Gym memberships until their next big break in Hollywood. At Downtown Los Angeles, Music Producers travel from festival to festival, paying for an apartment they can’t afford with their roommates, and nearly starve just for that next Label. The list goes on. But the question is why? What are they after? And is it really worth the sacrifice?

On The Contrary

Not too far away, California offer counties beyond LA, with farmlands and vineyards, where the rent is the price of a studio apartment in Inglewood for a four bedroom house. The air is clean, you can see the stars at night, and traffic is nonexistent. There’s jobs available everywhere, and you can keep your business without the worry of rent control not being enforced. So, why live in your car for six months at a time?

The Glory

If you’ve ever worked in the Studios, you’ll notice something you never thought would be possible: Artists living in luxury. It’s not like Europe, where you can get your own house, and make a killing off of your painting. No. Here in Hollywood, in Los Angeles City – anywhere in Los Angeles County, in fact – an Actor, Musician, or Writer can afford a Lawyer, Agents, Mansions, and Bankruptcy. Money doesn’t phase them. It comes and it goes. But they’re still Producers!

Waking up under a desk, or coming in after a wild party is normal for these people. In fact, a lot of them are sloppy and unkempt, thanks to the nature of their work. Staying in the editing room for days, working at 4am til 3am daily, and eating catering weekly. Their jobs are seasonal, and may lag their wallets for petty cash every now and then, but you know what? At least their bank accounts are kept safe, and their Accountants make sure of it. That’s right, they never touch their money. And why?

The Merch

Imagine a Real Estate Agent selling you a home. He makes money in his sleep, right? People pay rent, leases, mortgages everyday, and worse, there are thousands of them within every city – especially in LA! Now, replace a home with a license, and replace rent/lease/mortgage with royalties, and that’s how these Producers wake up with satisfaction staying in their cars for a season or two.

As Producers, they live vicariously through their Corporation – may it be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp – and never pay taxes. These guys are debt free. And as a separate entity, these Producers can waste as much money as their Accountants let them. Their bank accounts are monitored, their corporate shares are sold and bought for them, and if they have any issues with losing property or income, their insurance companies take care of it. They don’t even lift a finger!

It’s like being a child, except your paying all the Professionals to be your Dad, and Starbucks your Mom.

Why The Car?

Obviously, you’re wondering why they sleep in Cars? Well, to be honest, when you’re working only on one aspect of your life, and neglect the other, you can’t expect everything to be wine and roses. Move to the vineyards and farms if you want that!

Since Producers live through their companies, they have a bad habit of not improving themselves. At most, Producers have a highschool degree, live alone – usually either married or divorced – and have no need to get a college degree. Their value is in their creativity and charisma. And what happens when your job is seasonal, and you live off of catering on the daily, and typically wake up in the editing room anyways? You don’t see your home either way. Adulting is easily escaped! It’s best to just invest in a reliable car, just so you can go to the next studio for work, or the gym that’s replaced that Man-Cave wives talk about.

And, did we mention that nearly everything is paid for, and tax deductible, when it’s a business expense? Your life is practically free. So, when a Producer needs to pay up front, they’re lost. Hence, they keep the last responsible thing they did in their personal life: the car. I mean, Lawyers wouldn’t want to touch that, would they?

Where Do I Sign?

Producers live well, but it’s only because they have charisma, and follow these two well known rules, expressed properly by the legendary Mel Brooks:

  1. Never use your own money.
  2. NEVER USE YOUR OWN MONEY!

Be a level 1 to self. But allow your Producer persona to be a level 50. The steps are just as simple:

  1. Create your company
  2. Make your company make money for you

It is easier said than done, if you’re not business savvy, but that’s show business. You create something that can be marketed for ratings, licensing merchandise, and the contracts come until you live off of royalties – however long it may allow you to enjoy it!

Also, not all Producers live cars. Some are relaxed enough to buy a house in Beverly Hills. Please be mindful.

How Actors Are Profiting In Hollywood

Every year, hundreds of Actors come to Hollywood, and every year, Actors are heartbroken by the cold shoulder of the Entertainment Industry. It may not be fair, but neither is the competition. To stay, of course, you’ll need to have some source of income. But it’s not how you believe it works.

YOU MEAN BUSINESS

As a Hollywood Actor, you’ll need to be a business entity. You start as a DBA (Doing Business As), which will allow you to use a stage name and keep all your properties – web domain, phone bill, etc. – under a separate bank account. This can elevate your Acting persona separate from your daily life persona. When you’re ready, you may incorporate to an LLC, and use this professional business to be an umbrella company for all your Acting personas (theatre, film, radio, etc.), for insurance purposes.

As a Hollywood Actor, you’ll be more than likely be under a contract, and hired as a Contractor. The DBA or LLC will help you with that, since being paid as your own business will make negotiations much easier – demanding to be paid appropriately to your value, and may allow you to get licenses to purchase things in wholesale prices, such as make up, clothes, etc. Plus, if you’re going to act like a Freelancer, auctioning (or in your case, auditioning) for a job, you may as well pay for your own insurance, and live vicariously through your company’s separate entity, and liquidate when your business’ credit goes down the loo. Save yourself the heartache, and use your credit for your schooling and home loans.

Know Your Industry

Obviously, you’ll want to get your vouchers after you’re SAG-eligible, so do work hard on getting roles – look at Actors Access, Backstage West, and all the local audition sites.

Remember two rules: never reveal your real age, and never reveal your ethnicity.

There is beauty in mystery. Learn different accents, languages, and dialects. Casting Directors are a cold bunch, so be ready to be dispensable, and learn anything and everything to be indispensable once you’ve got your foot in the door – may it be a theatre troupe, an indie film company, etc. Be a dancer, a singer, a martial artist, a stunt man, a model – all of it, and kiss up to the Director and Staff! It’s a thankless industry, so do what you can to make everyone you work with special, so you can be remembered.

And, yes, Los Angeles, as a whole, will forget you. So many come in and out of the Industry that, even at one point, Michael Jackson was considered a Has-Been… Fame is your business. Never forget that.

Don’t Forget To Eat

Anyone can afford to lose sleep, but your diet is important. The Casting Agency may want a fat version of you, a skinny version of you, or a buff version of you – but the minute that you can’t work, there’s no helping that.

People usually get a full-time job to pay the lease, and then take roles in the opposing hours of their work hours. But, sadly, most jobs are in the morning, and film and photo shoots start by 4am. Obviously, everyone runs to get a waiting job at all the restaurants the Agents and Producers eat in, and abuse the flexibility of the restaurant industry.

This is where the trap begins.

Because when this cycle becomes comfortable, the Actor’s self-esteem drops, and the shell of you will dissipate, and then you, as the daily living norm, gets affected.

Solution: get a part-time job, where they employ twenty-six or more employees:
In Los Angeles, employers are obliged to pay for healthcare when they reach that limit.

Then, start getting frequent flyer miles. It sounds ridiculous, but in order to build your resume fast, you’ll need to travel between states. Get used to paying rent, not lease. Of course, you’ll be living with roommates, and traveling by car, when you’re in LA, but to believe you’re permanently here is not a smart way to go. Everyone can stay in LA, but when you have an Agent, a resume to build, and paying gigs, you can’t afford to lose your career to a 9-to-5.

Taking It Easy

But, if you can’t even afford any of the above. Go to Central Casting, in Burbank, at 5am, with your headshot, and car, and become the chameleon this Industry demands you to be, and get ready to be Type Casted!

Get a lead role at a stage play in NoHo (North Hollywood), and apply to the Studios to be a background Actor, Dancer, or even a Looper [a voice actor that’s used for background noise].

Work for free, over and over again, until someone gives you that break!

Some people start a Twitch account, become a social media sensation, and make public appearances at Conventions. Others work for equity. Either way, nothing’s really free. The point is, there’s quid pro quo.

The Goal

Do yourself the favor, and work in the Industry for four years, get a footing in Hollywood, Broadway, and any international festival and company that’s willing to let in. Do Mainstream, do Indie, do everything until you figure out where you belong. Will you be a household name? Will you be the next Ed Wood? Are you meant for Eastern Entertainment Internationally, or Western? Always learn, and don’t hold yourself back!

But when the four years are done, decide whether you wanna stay or not. More than not, you’ll start your own film company, and have college interns kissing up to you for hands on experience. You might try being a waiter, an insurance salesman, or a gogo dancer, just to pay the rent, at first. But you, as an Actor, will need to earn real money, to fund your career, your hobby – or whatever you consider your Acting to be. And that will take real commitment, whether you’re staying in LA, or moving constantly internationally.