Every month the Oracle selects entertainment professionals with established Hollywood careers to interview about their work, opinions and what advice they have for those wanting to make it in Hollywood. Today’s interview spotlight is on:
Vlad Peters: Post Production Operations Manager by day – DIY filmmaker by night.
1. Where are you originally from?
I grew up with an Army Lieutenant Colonel for a father, moving from post to post. Once he left active duty for the private sector, we found ourselves in the mountains above Santa Cruz, California. So I generally tell folks I’m from Santa Cruz and suffer the obligatory, “surf’s up, dude. Hippies!”
2. What was your first job after moving to the Hollywood area? Was it in the entertainment industry, or did you start out doing something else to make ends meet?
My first job was at UCLA as a projectionist at Ackerman Grand Ballroom on campus. We showed two movies three nights a week in the only ballroom that boasted a 35mm projector with platter system (a higher end fancy reel changer thingy), a 16mm projector, and an honest to goodness Dolby surround sound setup. It pretty much only paid for books, but once I did get to show an advanced screening of Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” I got to see film students cry. That made me happy. Is that so wrong?
3. What are you doing in Hollywood right now? What is your current job title, and how long have you help the position?
I have been working for 16 years at a post production house called Laser Pacific. It was my first job with benefits (get your mind out of the gutter) out of college. I started as a driver and now work as a Scheduling Operations Manager in our corporate office in Hollywood.
I gotta say, it’s been a solid day job and it is in the entertainment industry. If things had gone differently, I could have been rocking a temp agency during that time, refusing to be tied down and angry that I didn’t get my “Big Break” in the one year out of college I had allotted myself. Things take time and why live on Top Ramen for 16 years? That’s definitely death by MSG.
4. Did you complete degrees in specific higher education, technical training or acting programs to prepare for a career in entertainment? What were they?
I attended UCLA. My degree is in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. No part of that really, directly, trains you for much of anything in the real world, short of teaching. I was not prepared to take that leap, thank god. A combined 17 years of schooling was quite enough for me. Nice place to visit, and all that.
5. What advice would you give in regards to this type of preparation for someone planning to come to Hollywood to pursue their dream? How would this preparation help them?
I would say a general and unhelpful “hone your craft.” Of course, the more accurate and kinder thing to say about preparation would be something like, “for god’s sake, figure out what you want to do and then hone.” A lot of folks come to town with an unfocused notion that they want to be in/make movies. They think they want to act, but never have in public. They think they might like to make cool movies, but have never even picked up a camera phone. Figure out what it is you want to prepare for in the first place and hone away.
6. Where is the best area for someone new to Los Angeles to look for a place to live?
The best area is the one you can afford that is not dangerous and is close to work.
I say West Hollywood/ Hollywood proper (north of Venice Blvd, West of Vine St, although Northern Los Feliz is ok) because then you are right in the hub. It’s easier to get to the other parts of L.A. from the center. You can go downtown just as easy as the Valley or Santa Monica. Entertainment companies are still mostly in that part of town and there are a lot of places to go and mingle with entertainment folks and be all hip.
7. What would be your Ultimate Hollywood Insider Tip for someone fresh off the bus?
The biggest insider tip I would give someone rolling right off of the Greyhound bus (and the best advice for getting along in this industry) is this: realize that industry professionals love to pontificate (look- I’m doing it) and, if you are not perceived as a threat to their jobs, to teach.
Entertainment folks love to talk about their jobs in detail once they start up, especially after their second hard liquor of choice. If they discover that you will actually listen to what they have to say and not start talking about yourself, they will tell you exactly how they do their jobs and many other things that they really shouldn’t be telling someone looking to move up in the food chain. Keep your ears open and learn how to get people to talk about their jobs. You will be amazed.
8. Any regrets? Now that you have been here and working for a while, would you have done anything differently?
My only really big regret is not coming to terms with the fact that I’m a filmmaker sooner. I’d been making short videos since high school, but somehow I thought I wanted to write the Great American Novel while I slaved away at some unrelated day job. It took me a good five years of compulsively making shorts while working at a post production house to figure out that I ultimately wanted to make a living at doing something I was going to do anyway. I’m still working towards that, but just wish I had gotten an early start.
Vlad has graciously volunteered to become a ‘Contributing Author’ here at the HO. So tune in tomorrow for Vlad Peter’s first Hollywood Oracle post: DIY Filmmaking – “Curse of the Film Permit.”
Contact Vlad Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can see Vlad Peters work at:
www.ghosthoax.com His Current Film
www.undeadware.com His Company Specializing in Undead Fashion.
www.laserpacific.com His current Job Website