Wendy Kram and L.A. For Hire
At a time when many businesses fear their end is near, veteran film and television producer Wendy Kram has begun a new venture. Recognizing a deficit where entertainment companies are forced to downsize due to the economy, Kram decided to turn the negative into a positive.
Who is Wendy Kram?
Kram’s interest in production began at an early age. “I grew up loving stories,” said Kram. “Books, theater, ballet, old black and white films, any medium that could tell a story, I was always moved by the experience.” When she was a teenager, she left her home in Manhattan for the west coast. “Romance brought me to L.A.”
While in college, Kram took acting classes on the side. These classes exposed her to the L.A. production community. After graduating from college, she was introduced to producer Howard Roseman. Roseman was working on a NYC-based remake of “Oliver.” Musical talent he found for this production included Jellybean and an unknown singer named Madonna. Kram stuck by Roseman as his multiple studio pitches led to a bidding war.
“He was a great pitcher. He was able to make stories come alive in a room and generate excitement. These were great learning tools and experiences,” said Kram.
Those early experiences opened the doors to opportunities both in film and television. She’s been a VP of Development for companies based at Walt Disney Studios, Hearst Entertainment, Granada, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios. She has supervising and producing experience with projects for ABC, NBC, CBS, USA and HBO. Her recent producing credits include “Mad Money” and “Making Mr. Right.”
“Necessity is the mother of invention”, says Kram. “I was looking for work myself when a friend from New York City said, ‘rather than look for a full-time job at a time when companies are cutting back, you should offer your services to several companies.’” Her friend noted Kram has extensive relationships within the Hollywood community and understands how to navigate the Hollywood system, attributes that can help a production get off the ground.
“You’re kind of like L.A. for hire,” her friend said.
When her friend made this suggestion, a seed was planted. The need to work prompted Kram into developing her own business. “I’m an independent producer,” said Kram. “I’m not leaving that role. But, projects can take years. If a company you’ve been working with goes up for sale, a project can go into limbo. With ‘L.A. for Hire,’ I could take my resources, my relationships, the work that I love doing, and offer it on an outsource basis. When companies have to downsize, I’m offering them a way to keep their momentum going without the overhead.”
What is L.A. for Hire?
L.A. for Hire is a “consulting firm for production companies, writers, directors, and anyone in media or PR seeking Hollywood connections and expertise on how to get their project to the next level.” Services provided include content development and acquisition, project management, script supervision, strategic planning, packaging and recruiting talent, setting and attending pitch meetings, determining which media outlets are most likely to buy your project, and library and catalogue evaluation for re-make purposes.
Kram offers an example of a way L.A. for Hire can be beneficial:
“Take a mini-major that has had to down-size,” said Kram. “Now let’s say that company finds itself in production on three movies and they are inundated with three new scripts coming in. They don’t have the resources to service the new scripts. The new scripts might require notes sessions, or if the scripts are ready, the company will need to come up with director and actor lists and have someone who can check their availabilities. They need someone who knows the inside scoop about who to call, and the way to present the project.”
“It’s not like a production company or studio can call a temp agency to have anyone step in and do this kind of work” said Kram. “It’s very specialized. The skill set I bring comes from years of experience working with writers, creative talent, management, and many others. These are abilities that are developed and cultivated over time. When companies hire me, they get the benefit of a seasoned executive but without the overhead.”
Kram says that L.A. for Hire is helpful to actors and directors and below-the-line talent with pet projects.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a set when a DP, UPM, or boom operator will tell me they have a project or script they’ve written and they want to take the next step but don’t know what to do,” said Kram. “Below-the-line talent has very specific skill sets. I have a different skill set which is above the line, and I can help them advance their projects.”
Kram started L.A. for Hire in January. She’s been spreading the word about her business through talent managers, agents, international production companies, and grassroots marketing. “My biggest challenge is to break through on the studio and large production company levels. They are used to thinking inside the box. When money is tight, they lay people off and get rid of executives. I’m offering an alternative: hire a highly experienced executive on an as-needed basis. This saves money without sacrificing project momentum.”
Although Kram’s business is to help a production company get a project moving by every means possible, she has integrity and will provide an honest opinion if she does not feel it is something saleable. Included with an initial project consultation, she will provide the reasons why your project may not be ready and she will suggest areas for improvement.
“If I can’t help you, I will be honest,” said Kram. “I never feel imperialistic about my decisions, and I would never tell someone not to follow their dreams. Nonetheless, my decisions will be informed based on my experiences and up-to-date knowledge of buying trends or industry objectives.”
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