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THE BIZ : A Starmaker Is Born

January 09, 1994|Janet Kinosian

It might be true that the film industry is crawling with selfish, throat-cutting Neanderthals eager to drag down people above them while stomping on people below them, but every once in a while evidence surfaces that evolution did not pass Hollywood by.

One such sign is Starving Artists Films, a not-for-profit group founded last year by video and commercial director Bob Giraldi. Giraldi decided he wanted to mentor "incorruptible, virgin talent that was good, that had a spark--and was cheap."

So Starving Artists pores through countless demo videos. "A lot of people will walk in and say, 'I'm a filmmaker,' " says Giraldi, perhaps best known for his Miller Lite ads and the Michael Jackson "Beat It" video. "But there are a lot of flakes around." Besides raw talent, he looks for people with "dedication, perseverance and a marble-headed belief in their own artistic rightness."

Once they make the cut--six have so far--Starving Artists' executives hook them up with a studio, which pays salary and production costs, and turn them loose on music videos and public-service announcements.

One no-longer-starving artist is former Laker Girl Morgan Lawley, who, under Giraldi's eye, directed videos for Digable Planets and 4 Non Blondes. She's since directed videos for Pat Benatar, Daryl Hall and Glenn Frey. "With a lot of established music companies," she says, "you need a sledgehammer to break in. So when a new company like Starving Artists opens up whose goal is to find you, it's a big, big break."

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