Thursday, May 14, 2009

3Questions: Zac Unterman - Head of Smart Entertainment

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Zac Unterman, head of Smart Entertainment.

HBAD: So, tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, what does that position involve?

ZU: I head Smart Entertainment, a production/management company in Los Angeles. We produced Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Blades of Glory, The Ringer, Anger Management, and My Boss' Daughter. We also represent writers, directors, and creators such as Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt. Day to day, we look for scripts and ideas we can make into feature films and television series. We have an unsolicited screenplay policy meaning we except outside material that can come directly from the artist to the producer without an agent or attorney. In fact, the last project we sold came via a log line over facsimile. Once we have our piece of material to go out with we do exactly that; we go to agents, managers, talent to try and package it the best we can with actors/directors/etc to make it as irresistible as possible for the studios and networks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

HBAD: How did you get your start?

ZU: For 4 years I worked for Endeavor, when they were in the old Manufacturers Building, but my first job was as a P.A. for the Academy Awards, the year Gladiator won. It was my first actual job out of college in Los Angeles. I remember I totaled their van when I was picking up one of the cameramen from the airport and was demoted to work in the director's truck while all the others were amongst the celebrities and in the Shrine. However, while in that truck one of the kids I met, and have remained friends with to this day, was the one who introduced me 5 years later to my current boss, John Jacobs.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to break in?

ZU: Know you're going to get kicked on your ass. Again and again. There's not a week that goes by that I don't get the crap beat out of me. It's a tough industry and it's very competitive. The competitive nature brings out the worst in people. Just recently I put together a movie that literally was a year in the works, had known writers, an A-list director and a major movie star only to take it to a studio where the head guy in charge basically told me to go f*ck myself, because he could. That happens every day. You don't get used to it. It comes down to love. My advice is you have to love it. More than anything. And get back up and dust yourself off and start back over again. Don't feel sorry for yourself when you fail because you will. Just keep at it and if you do, maybe the first thing might not work out or the second or the fiftieth, but eventually you'll hit. As long as you love it and keep at it. And get adjusted to waiting.


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