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Hollywood Success

March 14, 1987

In response to the Don Davis letter "Getting Ahead in Hollywood" (Sunday Calendar Letters, March 8), tens of thousands of people daily wonder what it takes to succeed in Hollywood. After working on the outskirts of (and with every aspiration to be in) the movie industry for 15 years, I can not offer suggestions, but I can sure comment on the erroneous ones made by Davis.

Nepotism is rampant in Hollywood. It gives a direct "in" to the people who can pick and choose from the torrid crowds that throng to Hollywood for the glamour, but it can not protect you if you don't have the fundamental talent.

Passing the Bar is no easy way in. You're far better off passing the union. I know several lawyers who can't get past the front door with all of their credentials, while the passwords to any film company remain "I'm in the union."

Getting a degree from a prestige school is no earmark for success, either. I am a graduate from the cinema school of USC. Each year, the hundreds of alumni would-be-film makers rub elbows in well-orchestrated gatherings only to confirm their greatest fear--that they are not working in the film industry.

Being arrogant and aggressively egotistical serves as a counter-cover-up of the frustration and vulnerable insecurity that derives from wanting something so much, with such commitment, that, despite continual denial and lack of support, one sacrifices one's self worth, livelihood and potential future.

Having a knack for gimmicks and one-liners is essential to the would-be film person. With the intense competition for such crucial stakes, a person usually has only fleeting moments to impress their uniqueness upon the movers and shakers of the industry.

The rewards for succeeding in Hollywood are astronomical. Those who have succeeded can attest to that. They can also attest to the fact that it is a short-lived experience filled with heartaches. The "in" people today may not be there tomorrow.

The thrill of film making is an addictive drug. Once tasted, it's virtually impossible to shake. I pity anybody who considers going into film making. They have committed themselves to a life sentence of unquenched aspirations, and the odds are against them from ever receiving a parole or being acquitted. And, while lost in their addiction, they will also have to deal with the outside world's blindness and jealous lack of understanding--so well demonstrated in the letter written by Davis.

KENNETH D. MERRIMAN

Merriman Productions

Hermosa Beach

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