Former Disney executives give film industry tips

Dick Cook applied at Disneyland Park when he was a college student because he already spent most of his time there, so he figured working there was ideal when he was job hunting. Cook was hired and was able to go from riding the Disneyland Monorail to becoming the chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Cook, now former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Mark Zoradi, former president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, came to Santa Monica College on April 4 to talk to students about the movie industry and its workings.

During the discussion, they told students about their experiences with the industry, and gave them a few words of advice that could help them in the future.

The discussion started with the upcoming movie "42," a film about the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player. Cook, who produced the movie, talked about the importance of casting the right actor for the movie.

Cook said that since the movie has racial content, it was important to get someone that could make the audience feel as if they were actually watching Robinson.

Zoradi said choosing the right actor is not the only factor that makes a movie successful. Marketing is what makes the audience actually want to go see the movie.

But before the movie is presented, the creation process — the filming of scenes or recording of the voice characters — becomes the most important task. "You have a lot of people, and you're trying to keep everybody on the same page and keep the communication flowing in order to create something that will last a long life," Cook said.

The digital revolution is also something Zoradi said to be aware of.

"It wasn't long ago that a 35-millimeter film was running through those projectors," Zoradi said. "Today, they are gone."

"They are almost gone completely to digital," said Zoradi. "Those projectors are being run by a hard drive or being downloaded by a satellite dish."

Digital technology has made it less expensive to show the movies in theaters and to create them to either DVDs or Blu-Rays, accoridng to Zoradi. However, the marketing for the movie does not get any cheaper.

Zoradi said that since people are all over the place with technology, they have to spend money on advertisement to make sure all of the audiences are reached.

Social media has played a role on the success of movies to raise awareness of opening nights and circulate reviews by critics, paving the way for potential movie-goers to judge a film on what others have said, according to Zoradi.

According to Cook, in order for students to be successful in the film industry, they have to be prepared for rejection. Getting into the film industry is not easy, and anyone who wants to has to give all their interest to it, he said.

"This is one of the industries that does not depend on age or on seniority," Cook said. "It's how good you are."

What students should be aware of when looking into the industry is that producers are constantly looking for new projects and creating opportunities.

When closing the discussion, both Cook and Zoradi left students with some advice.

"If it's not working out for you, don't be afraid to change," Zerodi said.

Cook said that the movie industry is the "meanest and toughest" one to get into. If students still want to make it in the industry after knowing that, then the best way is by "finding your way, persevering, not getting down, pushing through, sticking with it, and never quitting," he said.