Lia Bozonelis is an L.A. based screenwriter, writer and producer who was head writer and producer of the feminist sketch comedy series, “Sorry, Not Sorry” and she had her feature “Eat, Drink and Be Married” premier around the globe. And she's currently writing a psychological thriller that will shoot later this year. She's here to talk about the business and her charge to help women rise within it.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 252
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[04:26] Tom's introduction to Lia Bozonelis (listen carefully as Tom speaks in multiple languages!) [08:08] Hired to “write it” can mean a lot of things [13:19] “Sorry Not Sorry” [15:38] Getting paid as a writer and producer [18:19] “Eat, Drink and Be Married” [19:33] Style of working when it's all you [23:09] Growing up a Jersey girl and becoming a “Screw The Commuter” [27:21] Whole different ballgame between NYC and LA [37:20] A lot of sweat equity to be successful [39:35] Sponsor message [41:59] Keeping track of money and being able to pay the rent [47:31] A typical day for Lia [54:12] Tom makes his pitch and a remake of The Blob
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Lia's IMDB page – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8454659/
Lia on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/liaboz/
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Ashley Monk – https://screwthecommute.com/251/
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Episode 252 – Lia Bozonelis
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey everybody it's Tom here with episode two hundred and fifty two of Screw the Commute podcast. We're here with Lia Bozonelis and she is a Hollywood based writer and producer. And we met through our deal or no deal mutual friend, the fine number 9, Patricia Kara. And listen to this. Over the past year, Lia's Star Meter has gone up seven hundred and sixty eight thousand one hundred and forty points on IMDB. And I looked at it very closely and the only time it went down a little bit is when word got out that she was doing this show. But anyway, we're going to bring her on. I got a little surprise for her because everybody that listens to this knows how I usually open, then bring on the guests. But I got a little extra surprise for Lia. All right. I hope you didn't miss Episode 251. Ashley Monk is the star pupil in my school, which tell you about in a minute. But Ashley in the first months started making eleven hundred dollars a month on the side. Second month got up to three thousand third month, thirty four hundred. And she just quit her job. Her dad had spent $80000 on some crap education. She's taken a crappy job and she just quit. And she's up to six thousand dollars a month and has four months to go in the school. She has just love her to death. She's only 22 years old and she's on her way. So that was episode 251. Now, hope you didn't miss grabbing a copy of our automation e-book. It's at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. And of course, everything we have clickable, including Lia's great stuff. Will be in the show notes. This is episode 252 and you go to screwthecommute.com/252. But I want you to grab a copy of that e-book. That e-book are techniques that I've used to handle as many as a hundred and fifty thousand subscribers and forty thousand customers without pulling my hair out. And we figured it out a couple years ago. This is no B.S. Just one of the tips in the book has saved me seven and a half million keystrokes over the years. And so you really got it. This book will allow you to handle customers a hundred times faster and make a lot more money. So grab it at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. And while you're over at screw the commute, grab a copy of our podcast app at screwthecommute.com/app and not only do you get the podcast that, but you know, when you get an app, people expect you to know how to use them and then you're fooling around for an hour trying to figure it out. While this we don't roll that way. So we have complete screen captures and a video to show you how to use all the fancy features so you can take us with you on the road at screwthecommute.com/app. Our sponsor is Ashley's School, the Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia. It's a distance learning school and we're now opening it up for in-house classes after 11 years of running it and it teaches legitimate techniques to make a great living, either working for someone else or starting your own online business or both. Why not both? So check it out at IMTCVA.org. And a little later I'm going to tell you about a quiz you can take over there that's going to make you mad. It's the seven ways colleges and universities are ripping off students. And yeah, I know you've been brainwashed for a hundred years that college degrees are critical. But hey, times have changed. And boy, when you watch this, take this quiz, you're going to really be mad. And I don't think I'd want to mortgage my house to pay for some of the things that are going on in the in the collegiate world nowadays.
[00:04:29] All right. Let's spring on the main event. Lia Bozonelis is an L.A. based screenwriter, writer and producer who was head writer and producer of the feminist sketch comedy series, Sorry, Not Sorry and she had her feature Eat, Drink and Be Married premier around the globe. And she's currently writing a psychological thriller that will shoot later this year. Hey, she's worked for the famous English filmmaker Ridley Scott. George Clooney, Netflix, HBO and a bunch of other rad places, I mean, I looked at her thing on IMDB, that's the Hollywood kind of resume place and wow, this girl is da bomb. And she's here to talk about the business and her charge to help women rise within it. And I normally start this off. Everybody knows this. Lia, so don't respond yet. I normally start this off with Lia, are you ready to screw? The commute? All right. I'm going to have a little bit of switch up here. This first time I ever did this because I did a little research on you and I know that you are multilingual. So I'm going to attempt to do my opening in three different languages. And have you respond to it. Here you go. Lia, are you ready to bousiller le trajet? Oui. Lia, are you ready to scopare il pendolarismo? Sì. And this is the hard one. This is Greek. Lia, are you ready to βιδώστε τη μετακίνηση (vidóste ti metakínisi)? Naí.
[00:06:30] Well done, well done.
[00:06:30] How did I do? How did I do?
[00:06:30] You did great Tom. You did wonderfully.
[00:06:38] Thanks so much for coming on. I know it's gonna be a lot of fun when we get these Hollywood folks on here that are so creative. I mean, you wrote some of these these are complete features and and it seemed like you're having a great time out there in Hollywood. So tell everybody what you're doing now and then we'll take you back and see how you came up through the ranks.
[00:07:00] Okay, cool. First of all, thank you so much for having me, Tom. I have heard great things about you and we share a very dear mutual friend. So this is great fun for me to be here today. Awesome. Yeah. And yeah, you know, Hollywood can definitely be a blast, but it can definitely be difficult. It is never a straight line. There are so many ups and downs, but right now is a very fun time in my career. I have just been hired to write a big psychological thriller with this director named Wil Wernick. He's had a bunch of movies come out. He had Escape room a couple of years ago. He has a big thriller called Follow Me coming out this summer. And this will be his third feature. We're doing it together. It's a dual perspective. So we tell it from both a male point of view and a female point of view. And it's sort of in the it's called ghosted. And it is sort of in the vein of gone girl or girl on the train, but a little more grounded or less melodramatic. And we're very excited about it. We just turned to the final draft in last week, and our next step will be casting and it's fully financed and we'll be shooting it later this year. And we think in New York City. So we're very, very, very excited about going.
[00:08:11] Wow. So so tell me more about that. So you said you were hired to write it. I mean, is it is all of the ideas already there and you're just putting the actual dialogue together or did you have to think up the ideas or what does that mean that you had that you were hired to write it?
[00:08:27] So it can mean many different things. Sometimes you're given a fully fledged treatment, which could be 30 pages of a synopsis, and then you just have to execute on that with dialogue and action. In this case, there was just a nugget of an idea. And the producers Jeff and Kelly Delson sat us down and we talked about it. And we knew that we wanted to do a psychological thriller. We knew we wanted to do it loosely. In the world of online dating can be somewhat.
[00:08:54] Yes. And well, and I had both had many stories.
[00:08:59] So. So we just basically what we did was we spitballs and we just we sat there and we brainstormed and then and kind of thought up in a general direction. And then, well, and I went off and, you know, sort of created a story treatment and then workshops. That was Jeff and Kelly. And then we were off to the races putting down, you know, 150 pages off of this one little one little nugget of an idea, one little one little sentence. And then and then we'd have been honing it and revising and getting notes from our most trusted, you know, friends in the business who are wonderful with story. And and now we're we've honed it to a beautiful one hundred and fifteen pages that we're really excited to share with the world.
[00:09:41] Okay. So no spoilers here. But I being generally generally, what's it about while it takes place?
[00:09:48] And it's kind of what I said. I can't give away. Right, right. It's in there. It's a psychological thriller in the world of online dating. And at the core is a revenge story. So it comes about. All right. Okay. Yeah. But hopefully next time I come back, we'll have some casting updates and I can share. You know, I can tease a little bit.
[00:10:07] So so who's to sue? I heard online dating. I kind of laughed because I do, you know, I teach Internet marketing skills. You talk about membership sites and I tell people, well, you know, who here could immediately compete with Match.com and nobody raises their hand. But then I show examples of all these other dating sites that are out there. There's far more dating. There's gluten free singles. There's 20 people. There's little people meet. There's the book, my favorite of all. And this is and I know you're an advocate for women. I'm no way making fun of women here. But this one is this cracks me up. It's a. It's called Women Behind Bars. And it's a membership site where guys become pen pals with women. And so. Well, what's interesting to me is they never tell you what the woman is in there for.
[00:10:58] She could have hacked up her last three boyfriends. This one. This one.
[00:11:05] I just it just cracked me up her.
[00:11:08] They have their bio on there and their interests and everything. Remember, they're they're in jail. And this one said is willing to relocate.
[00:11:20] I mean, what could go wrong now? She says. And I love to travel, you know. So so. So anyway, I can't wait to see this call when I'm not incarcerated.
[00:11:30] Yes. So yours is called ghosted goes. Oh, yeah. Awesome. When do you think it might be out?
[00:11:38] Out is a different story. Shooting it.
[00:11:40] You know, what I always tell people is, you know, people people always say, oh, what have I seen that you've done? And I don't think the mass population is aware that there's about a thousand steps. And getting the movie not only made but distributed. So but in our case, we're very lucky. We are fully financed. And, you know, we already have distributors biting. So I think if we're lucky, we'll be shooting it, you know, sometime within the next six months and then it will take a few months to edit and then we'll have to see what the distribution rollout is. But my guess is it'll be a sometime in 2020.
[00:12:14] So there's a big difference between like direct to video and major like on screen release. Right.
[00:12:21] Sometimes yes and sometimes no. To be honest, the streamers like Netflix and Amazon are pretty much functioning like major distribution studios like like a universal or a Sony. So even if it's, quote, straight to video, it doesn't mean that it didn't have the same amount of sweat equity go into it. It just means it doesn't have the same sort of strategic distribution roll out that a film like this would with the intention being it's a theatrical release, meaning it would go into theaters around the country and the globe as opposed to just, you know, hitting a streamer or a video.
[00:12:55] Okay. Now, when he said streamers, I couldn't help but think of it, though, that line. Ricky Gervais Scott.
[00:13:02] Oh, they've held over for a place to start streaming service. You'd be calling your agents.
[00:13:10] I have a lot of feelings on him, but he always manages to pass me off. So it's just yeah, he is a ridiculous human, but very much so.
[00:13:22] So tell us about the sorry, not sorry. And then the eat, drink and be married. Those went weren't sure.
[00:13:28] So sorry. Not sorry was a really, really fun time in my life. It was a feminist sketch comedy series that I did for Astronauts Wanted, which is a Sony backed company. It premiered on Go90, which was kind of Verizon's answer to Netflix or Amazon, which unfortunately the platform didn't have much longevity. So we met, made eight full episodes, 24 small episodes, and we premiered and we did great. We were really, really excited about the show, hoping to be renewed. But there are issues with the platform, so it just didn't go that direction. But we are looking for a new home for it. So I was head writer of that. And I you know, we staffed up with a mostly female writing team. We still had a couple of guys in there for some nice perspective shifts and whatnot. And what we really liked about it is that we didn't just go for the cheap jokes. We really tried to be extremely. And oh, who is that?
[00:14:23] There was Abby. She said, yeah, I like those cheap jokes. You certainly had a band.
[00:14:31] So we are we really just tried to make it extremely inclusive and work and fun. And, you know, current and we we worked very, very hard to get those episodes tight. And, you know, each one was thematically very different from the next. And it would be a combination of very funny sketches, what we call man on the street. So our stars would go and interview people on the street.
[00:14:53] And you're actually called the man on the street and in this case, a woman on this. Okay. I had four female, four female comedians who are all on their eyes and wonderful and doing, you know, doing big things.
[00:15:06] The industry now and and and our director was terrific. And stylistically, it kind of changed it up with every sketch. And, you know, we were very, very excited about the show. And, you know, what I always tell people is it was the reason it was one of the most fun times in my life is because we'd sit in that writer's room and we'd have sore abs every day because we would just be laughing right from start to finish, even when we had hard days. And of course, it's work. At the end of the day, it's still work. But that really didn't feel like work because it was just such an extremely fun and funny time.
[00:15:40] Yeah, I mean, I understand what you mean. I wrote the professional comedy for six straight years and I went every day was just, you know, you just having your butt off and it's time. It was it was one of the best times for sure. Now, do you get them from the business aspect of does a head writer get residuals? Do you have part ownership in the show? I'm sure there's a lot of ways you can structure things. But so how do you get paid for those kinds of things?
[00:16:09] So in my case, I was a contracted writer, so my fee was my fee and I would get paid weekly and I was also a consulting producer on it. So in this particular case, they did it. You know, there were many, many companies involved, many guild signatories, but we were on a shoestring budget. So, you know, my fee was just my fee. So that's negotiated ahead of time. So I wasn't going for a back end or points or residuals or anything like that. I was just more focused on that. You know, I knew there'd be, again, so much sweat equity going into it week to week and running that room. And we had very long hours from about 10 till 7, 10 till 8:00. And then when we you know, I was the onset writer, so I was with the production for the last month or so of it. And so, again, I just for me, it was more important to get the titles and be on set than it was, you know, work out. You know, that's what I was fighting for more than anything. And that worked to my advantage.
[00:17:01] I wonder, is there some kind of ratio that the producers keep track of, like the number of lines actually used by you, by divided by what they paid you?
[00:17:11] No, definitely. It does not work that way. Not at.
[00:17:17] You know, it's it's a we are all you know, we are all equal contributors to it. I you know, as head writer, you oversee the room, you keep it structured, you keep it moving. You know, you keep you make sure the writers are contributing and and, you know, you're mentoring and whatnot. But but at the end of the day, everyone was dynamite, you know, and everyone was was doing a kick ass job contributing to the show. And so, you know, I'm very proud of us. And we were very much a team.
[00:17:42] He seemed like somebody who could say something just. And it stimulates something in someone else.
[00:17:48] Oh, of course. And that's how all. That's right.
[00:17:51] There would be times where we'd have an idea. And so, you know, someone, again, would give a nugget of an idea and another person would say, hey, I want to go run with that. And then they'd go off into one of the little incubator rooms or whatever and and gestate this idea and come back with a fully fledged sketch like, you know, an hour later and, you know. And sometimes I'd be hitting against my head, against a wall saying, hey, this is a great idea and I don't know how to execute on that. And someone else would have a good idea, you know? Know how to do that. So it was very collaborative and that was wonderful.
[00:18:22] Now tell us about eat, drink and be be married.
[00:18:26] So after the show wrapped, I had sold a couple of concepts to real one entertainment. And that was the one of the first ones that I sold. And that ended up becoming of full fledged feature film, which was very exciting. Stars Jake Foy and Jocelyn houdin. And that went out that premiered around the globe in Asia and Europe pretty much towards the end of twenty nineteen. And we are locking up distribution. So it actually has not come out here yet. But hopefully it will be coming out. They usually try to release movies like this because it's in the vein of a wedding movie. The hot season for that, you know is is like late spring, early summer. So. So hopefully that will be coming our direction. And one more thing I can talk about next time we're here has the juice.
[00:19:14] Did you say you have ownership in that film?
[00:19:17] I'm not a producer on that film. That when I sold the concept and then we put a writing agreement together, it was a six step writing agreement. And I you know, I finished executing on it. And then it was completely. That was one of the ones where you just have to say goodbye to your baby.
[00:19:33] Yeah. So. So when you do that, you just go home and you sit down and think, okay, I got to write this thing. So what's your what's your style?
[00:19:44] How do you how do you work, in other words, if you're working separate by yourself?
[00:19:49] Well, it really depends on the project. In this case, it was fun to write because it was a lighthearted romantic comedy. And you know, that world I knew that real one makes movies that are intended for a more how can I say this? Like, straight edged. Audience. So so I knew that I would have to be writing between, you know, within some pretty specific parameters, think like a slightly edgier Hallmark type situation. So even though my writing tends to be a lot edgier than that, I knew what this job was and I knew that I would have to again write within these parameters. So, you know, there are all these sort of unspoken rules or rather spoken rules. You know, like you can't see death, but you can you can talk about death, you know, certain things like that. So I was you know, it was a cute little concept about putting the wedding back together. And and the idea came to me. And then I sat down and I went over the idea with the producers. And then first step was writing the treatment and then getting signed off on that treatment. And then and then I was off to the races on the first draft. Second draft. There are drafts Polish and then they had to do a budget pass on it, meaning some of the locations that I wrote in were too expensive to shoot because we were this one was under a million dollars. And so then, you know, at that point, you just have to say, OK, well, I put everything I had into this and now now it's not mine anymore. Now it's up to the director and the stars. And. And I actually have not yet seen a final cut of the movie. So I am I am I am equally as excited as there is to see it.
[00:21:27] And my family, you know, always says one. Can you see it? I said, when can I see it? I didn't see that yet either. So.
[00:21:33] So do you ever think up all the characters and all that?
[00:21:37] Yes. All the characters are mine. The idea is mine. You know, this sort of was born out of this. I was reading an article about someone's wedding that went south and they didn't know what to do with all of the vendors. They had already moved the flowers. They had already hired a caterer. And there is actually a service where people will just turn around and donate those items to people in need. Bring them to hospitals, to child care facilities, to nursing homes.
[00:22:04] This is normally after a good wedding happened, right? Not one wedding that went bust.
[00:22:10] Yes. And sometimes, yes, for the most part, it's after it happens.
[00:22:14] So my idea was, you know, here's a couple in peril who has all of these things. And then, you know, two to two unlikely people are enlisted to sort of, you know, donate all of these items. But in the process, try to bring the couple back together.
[00:22:33] Yes. It's going to be a blast doing all this.
[00:22:36] They're really sweet. It's also this one was so light and cathartic that it was again, it was even though I tend to go a little darker, edgier, whatnot, this was just a really fun exercise for me because I just I got to write in this funny, lighthearted, romantic space every day for several months.
[00:22:51] And I. Did you pull anything from your real life a little bit here?
[00:22:58] Yeah, here. In there. Yes. Sometimes, you know, sometimes I write.
[00:23:02] I try not to write any character. True to form, it would be mostly, you know, composite characters mulling from different different people in my life, different experiences in my life and whatnot.
[00:23:11] So. All right. So let's take you back in. So you've got quite a history. You. You taught English as a second language. You were a speechwriter, I think, for somebody one time. So how did you come up to get where you are today and you now you are a screw the commuter, although I'm sure that doesn't mean a whole lot in where you live in Los Angeles, because.
[00:23:33] No, it does. It does. How much time do you have? Yeah, the climb in Hollywood is never that short.
[00:23:41] There is never you know, you always hear these things about an overnight success. And it's just once you dig a little deeper, you're like, oh, wait.
[00:23:48] They've been in the industry eight years, 18 years, whatever it is. So. All right. So how do you start up?
[00:23:55] Well, let's see. So I went to school in Washington, D.C. at George Washington. I studied journalism. So I knew I always loved to write in that area.
[00:24:06] Where are you from? I grew up in Jersey. I'm in Jersey. New Jersey girl. Jersey girl? Yes. So and then headed down to D.C.
[00:24:13] You know, Snooki, not personally, but I feel like I did. Yeah.
[00:24:23] And then from D.C., I you know, I studied in Florence and that wasn't quite out of my system. So after school, I taught English as a foreign language, which was great for my writing skills, just observing all of these different people and cultures and whatnot. And I was around Italy and a little bit in France came back and I got my first job at what at the time was the Time Warner AOL Foundation. So this is this is dating myself.
[00:24:47] I mean, that's how long ago that was.
[00:24:51] And I worked for a couple of wonderful men there. And one of one of whom went on to New Line Cinema and asked me to join him. And New Line was, you know, a very robust studio at the time. It was an exciting time for New Line because it was falling on the heels. The Lord of the Rings, which is that franchise, essentially saved that studio. They took a huge risk and bet so much money on that franchise, which paid off in spades. And then along with that, they had the notebook rush hour. All of these different, you know, smaller films, sleeper hits, things that were really causing the studio to explode. So it was a very fun time for me to be there. And while I was working on the PR and communications side, I really wanted to get into development, the creation of stories and, you know, helping, you know, oversee the writers and whatnot. But I was New York based and there was there were very few development jobs. So sort of as a compromise. I just talked to the development department and I asked them to just be reading every single script that was coming through the doors. And then from there I thought, OK, well, I can do this, too. So I sat down and I wrote my first screenplay on nights and weekends, which I had no business showing anybody like 300 page romantic comedy, which for context, most romantic comedies should should clock in around ninety five to one hundred or so.
[00:26:15] But I gave it to I gave it to some senior executives there at the time and and they were very polite and you know, and this was a printed copy. So I basically dropped like a 20 pound desk and and they, you know, took the time to to look at it and they said, listen, you have to learn everything there is to learn about screenwriting still. But we can tell you have a voice. So that was all I needed to hear, really to just kind of keep going after it. And from there, I went to work at Picture House films, which picture house at the time was a new line, had an art house division called Fine Line by line, merged with HBO Films and New Market Pictures and became this, you know, picture house or whatnot. And I learned from Bob Birdee, who's one of the best in the business. So it was really cool learning the big commercial side of the business at New Line and then learning the art house side of the business over a picture house.
[00:27:14] And this was still The New Yorker. This was still a.
[00:27:17] And, you know, Weinstein Company was their new line was their New York had a little bit of a studio presence at the time.
[00:27:25] Does L.A. taking a lot of credentials from New York. They kind of look up their nose at him when they hit L.A.. Is there any kind of rivalry between the cities?
[00:27:36] Not really, because at the time, you know, every single one of these companies had offices in both places. And the reason that New Line had such a strong presence in New York was because, well, our co-CEOs were New York based, but also or I'm sorry, one of them was. But also we were doing a lot of theater adaptations. So we needed someone who was close to Broadway and close to had access to those stars and those vehicles for storytelling. So I wouldn't say that people necessarily looked up their nose at it, but I. But, you know, once I got to L.A., it was a whole different ball game.
[00:28:09] We can put it that way, though.
[00:28:13] So I had done I had put in a lot of time at Picture House.
[00:28:17] And I know those times you were technically an employee at these these different places. Yes.
[00:28:23] I was a full time employee working on the communications side of things, which was fun, because then you got to work the premieres and and, you know, really sort of learn again. They were the New York units were so small. You really did get to learn all different facets of the business. And this was many years ago and all of the assistants sat in a row. It was called the row. And we're all still friends all these years. Yeah. Which is really cool. And a lot of the new liners get together in New York and L.A. every single year is a little reunion. I mean, it was really it was a magical place. And so, you know, now it's been folded into Warner Brothers and still sort of Accies and as an entity with, you know, under the new line name, which has a very different and specific brand right now. But but it at the time, it was it was really special place to be. So long story short or long story long. And I I decided at Picture House that I really wanted to write full time. So I moved back in with my parents, left New York City, moved back in with them in New Jersey and lasted a whole of three weeks before I thought to myself, well, I need a job because this isn't going to pay me for probably a decade. And I was right. So I started just doing a lot of freelance writing, which led to a full time staff writing job at Fortune magazine.
[00:29:44] And then Fortune was looking for young people to incentivize to live in, you know, areas that maybe not everyone wanted to live in. And so from there, I lived in New Delhi, India for a while. That was a crazy time in my life. We were doing. I was covering hard news. So news as it was unrolling and we were having a big Fortune 500 conference there. And India was. Celebrating 60 years of independence and we were tracking the prime minister. And it was a really, really special time as well. And again, that all helped inform my writing. And then we had the economic collapse happen. Most of my division was wiped out. But at that time I had a lot under my belt. I'd written probably five or six screenplays plus, you know, managed to put away a lot of money since I wasn't paying rent. And I was, you know, being taken care of overseas and and making a really great income. And so at that point and, you know, I did the tech beat up in Silicon Valley for a bit and then the green environmental beat in L.A. and then kind of landed in L.A. And I thought, OK, I want to I want to really make a go at this. So that's when I got to L.A. and that was eleven years ago.
[00:30:51] Just in the beginning of February, I was about forty six jobs. You just dream about ten thousand more. I'm about to tell you.
[00:31:02] I'm glad you're keeping.
[00:31:06] And yeah. Eleven years ago in L.A. and you know, I could I could take you through all of the various calamities in setting up projects and watching them gain financing. Lose financing. What not I will not bore you with all of that. But let's just say I was starting to set up projects and and start I was speaking, meaning I was writing for free, but for some really big heavy hitters in the in the industry. For Chuck Roban, Atlas Entertainment, you know, the good folks who brought you the Wonder Woman franchise and the Batman franchise and whatnot.
[00:31:38] And so I was still I was getting a lot of attention, but I was having trouble getting anything off the ground. A lot had changed, too. When I first entered the business, there was something called a spec market where you could write a screenplay and hit the lottery and sell it for, you know, high six figures. And then the writers strike happened and everyone was just looking for packages, meaning you had to not only have a brilliant script, but you had to have big stars attached to it and a hot director. And so the entire landscape changed the entire entire way. You go about filmmaking changed. So I had to sort of recalibrate at that point. And I was a little sick of operating in a vacuum. So I just you know, I got my first representation. I took what they call the water water bottle toward meaning. You know, you have a script that goes out, get some heat, and then you meet with, you know, all the various producers in town or as many as you can stomach. And I did I did that for quite some time. And, you know, I had some some.
[00:32:37] Well, you're a freelancer at the time.
[00:32:39] Technically freelancer at the time. So. OK, so to that point, in order to keep the lights on and my apart. Right.
[00:32:45] Running tandem to this, I was doing a lot of consulting work. I started as a reader. So I was just reading volumes and volumes of scripts coming through the door. I read it over at HBO. I read it all about entertainment, a managing manager and production company called Anonymous Content.
[00:33:02] And you're reading to see if it's got any kind of merit to pass it on to somebody else or what.
[00:33:08] Yeah. So I was basically reading to see if it would fit, you know, whichever companies overall slate. If it was worth pursuing. And so I was I was a gatekeeper in that respect. And I was reading hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of scripts, which was great for my own writing. Right. Because it's exercising the same muscle in a way.
[00:33:25] I would use third slip in hundred dollar bills in the pages that hey I wish, I wish I got. Yeah.
[00:33:37] And then from there I got a call from from all that entertainment. I got a call from Ridley Scott's company saying we need someone to do a little bit more of a robust job for us. We know we have a piece of IP and intellectual property. We need someone like you to come in and break it down and, you know, write a treatment and make it look sexy and put it together. And I did that for, you know, several properties for them. And that was really exciting. And to work to work with really and to work with that team was really exciting.
[00:34:06] That was so I mean, were you in a contract? This is. So you're technically screwing the commute. You're working for yourself?
[00:34:15] It is for sure. I have been screwing the commute for years, Tom.
[00:34:21] I alluded to screwing. The commute is especially important in Hollywood.
[00:34:26] The traffic. Everyone's screwing the kids. Oh, and traffic, well, is enough to, you know, explode your brain. Exactly. Yeah. Who is? Yes. I've been screwing the commute in more ways than one time.
[00:34:38] And so, yeah, from there I got a call from Smokehouse, which is George Clooney's company, to come over and do the same thing. So I did that. And then I got a call from you know, this was really interesting. This is over four years ago now. I got a call from Netflix and they said, hey, we're a tiny little department and we're thinking of making some original films. You know, very small under 3 million dollars when you come join us and and do the same job over here. And again, that was contract and did read the Irishman.
[00:35:06] All right.
[00:35:06] Well, staying there almost four years in our tiny little department of three people making one or two films under 3 million dollars has now, you know, has now become what it's become like.
[00:35:19] You know, bird box with a huge success of Bird Box was basically two hands reaching out from your TV, like making you watch it. Just it was. You know, Netflix is everywhere. And so, you know, my little independent department is now, I think, thirty five million dollars and under, which is now so indie. And, you know, and the teams are split into budgets. And, you know, the volume in which I read there was insane. I was reading, you know, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of scripts a year, if not thousands. Sometimes I'd be reading two books in a day for them. You know, it's just that they were just the volume which was churning. But it was interesting because when I was head writer of sorry, not sorry, I actually kept my job at Netflix. So it was it was a it was a very, very tough time in my life because, you know, I would be reading all morning running a room from, say, 10 to eight if we weren't on set and then come home and read it at night. But I really. Yeah. In order to sort of, you know, keep keep my keep my my foot in both doors, I wanted to not lose that job and not lose that momentum either.
[00:36:30] And as well as you know, I've been writing more pilots, I've been writing more features. So I effectively felt like I was working three jobs at the time and was just grinding all of the time. And then, you know, obviously started to feel a little birds out after that. So when the show didn't get renewed, I was still, you know, writing pilots, writing features. But then I was fortunate enough to get a couple of sales on the feature side. And then and then the rest is sort of what I've explained. I had this film coming out and then hired on Ghosted. And then Will Wernecke, the director of Ghost and I have formed this really nice creative partnership. So we're gonna go down the line and a couple of bigger budget movies. And, you know, and it's just a really, really exciting time. But it's not to say it didn't come out, you know, it didn't come with a ton of hurdles. And it's a lot of buzz. And there are days that I feel like, oh, I'm on top of the world and there's days that I'm like, you're you're terrible at this.
[00:37:21] What are you doing?
[00:37:24] It seems to me that, you know, I've been bragging a little bit on the younger generation being more entitled and not working so hard. I don't know how that type of person could do what you did. I mean, you've worked your butt off multiple, probably 12, 16 hour days, mostly for years and years to get.
[00:37:48] Yeah. You know, I don't know it. We have this debate all the time. And one of the things that is quite the disparity in Hollywood is that if you come from means and you have no financial pressure on you, you have a much greater chance of succeeding. That was not the case for me. You know, I have a wonderful, supportive family, but I you know, I had to just keep grinding and keep going. And you do burn out. And, you know, one of the best piece of pieces of advice that I've ever received was, if you can do absolutely anything else, go do it. And if you really can't, if you have to do this, then do it. But know that it's going to come with a lot of stress, headache, worry and whatnot. And, you know, 18 years later, here I am doing it. And I'm honestly very humbled and proud of where I've gotten at this point because it has been just so much sweat equity and a lot of fighting. I've been, you know, kicked over more times than I can count. I've had the most ridiculous things happen to, you know, to stunt me things. You know, losing money at the last second. People pulling out, stars having meltdowns. I mean, you name it, I've experienced it. And so so one of the ways that, you know, that I kind of show my thanks for for where I am in my career is to sort of, you know, put it forward. And I try to mentor young people trying to navigate this business where you are or were in similar situations as me, who, you know, have the drive and ambition and, you know, and need to be working all the time to survive. And you need a little guidance and help navigating this. You know, I like to refer to Hollywood as a circular firing squad and in the center.
[00:39:39] All right. So we got to take a brief sponser break and we come back. We're going to ask Lee about collecting the money or how that works in work in this kind of job and what a typical day looks like for her.
[00:39:51] But I'm kind of afraid, very, very afraid so.
[00:39:58] Folks, I mentioned earlier about the Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia and the quiz I wanted you to take. So I want you to write this down or. Check it out in the show notes it's IMTCVA.org/quiz. And even if this doesn't apply to you, I guarantee you, you know somebody, you've got nephews, nieces, grandchildren. And it's really going to make you mad because it outlines seven ways. And, you know, I have a a a consumer advocate show in development in Hollywood called Scam Brigade. And so I'm very in tune with things that are fraudulent. And I swear a lot of these colleges would be people would be in jail for doing this stuff on the open market. But you've been brainwashed for a hundred years that you absolutely have to have a college degree. Well, times have changed. Google, Apple, IBM, Bank of America and hundreds of other big corporations have now eliminated their college degree as a prerequisite to apply. They want people with skills, not people that, you know, got an A in art history. So so take their quiz and then open your eyes a little bit to the other potential out there. And the rope told you about Ashley making money with this. The skills that we teach in my school that's earned super high demand. I mean, every business on earth, small and large, has enormous Internet necessary skills that they have to have. And most of the small businesses are pulling their hair out. So the market is massive. That's why she was able to go up to six thousand dollars a month in a few months and doing is still part of part time. So so check it out at IMTCVA.org/quiz and pass it quiz on to somebody, you know, that could save them hundreds of thousands of dollars and keep them from competing for jobs at Starbucks. So so there you go.
[00:42:04] Let's get back to the main event. Lia is here. It's Bozonelis. Lia Bozonelis is the rising star with seven hundred sixty eight thousand one hundred forty IMDB points.
[00:42:19] This is one way to look at it.
[00:42:21] Oh, well, let's compare. I don't know how many I have, like three. So. So, Lia, tell us about the money.
[00:42:31] You collecting the money. Do you ever worry about that, as is the stuff paid in advance? Is it? You know, these are freelance jobs and you're working with a lot of people. So how do you keep track of all the money?
[00:42:44] Yeah. What money? Yeah. Let me know.
[00:42:49] You know, it takes as as I've mentioned, it takes many, many years to get to the point in which these these types of jobs monetize. And that's not just true for me. That's true for almost everyone I know who is successful in this business. So, of course, you can get the development jobs and the jobs on the business side of the industry, the you know, the W-2. Full time jobs where you are working to, you know, realize these movies on behalf of other writers and directors or whatnot. But if you truly want to be a creative like me, then you have to be used to having good years and bad years, terrible months and good months and times in your life where you don't know how you're going to pay your rent. You know, any time I'm in a situation where I can sock away money, I do it as best I can. But, you know, it's it's. Oh, it remains. It's it's you take the good and the bad. Right. So here I am creating a lot of content and getting you know, I've had 24 episodes of television made. I've had four episodes of a Web series. I have my first feature coming out. I have two more features on deck that are hopefully shooting this year. But, you know, am I rolling in it? No.
[00:43:56] Will I roll then? What? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Exactly.
[00:44:01] But will I be? Well this eventually all monitise and sort of catapult my career to that other echelon of writers and directors who are living a more comfortable lifestyle. Yes. I think that is absolutely 110 percent of you trajectories. So to answer your question, I I still take contract work. You know, up until very recently, I effectively had a full time job at Netflix in conjunction with all of my writing, just because I'm a person who craves stability and, you know, likes keeping the lights on in my. Yeah. So it's really up and down. Is that is the answer? It's my answer. But I do think it is the answer for most people that I know.
[00:44:38] Well, yeah, but where do you get all the money to buy? I saw you on these red carpets with all these fancy gowns and million dollar necklaces and stuff.
[00:44:47] Oh, Tom, million dollar are not gone. Let's be real.
[00:44:55] Now, you know, the carpet events are very fun. There's you know, there's always around it. I you know, I I own some pretty dresses, but there's also these great Web sites like. The runway. And what not an end to the red carpet events, especially for things like film festivals and premieres or whatnot.
[00:45:13] You know, that is sort of the reward for doing all of the hard work. You're invited. You're invited to attend. And then it's your way of promoting the film and it's their way of sort of giving back.
[00:45:21] I see you work in the Greek thing every it says eight years you volunteer. How do you find time to volunteer to run a Greek festival?
[00:45:30] I don't sleep is overrated.
[00:45:34] Really believes overrated. Well, first of all, to clarify, I do not run the festival.
[00:45:38] I have I have always volunteered. I volunteer my time to mentor young, young female filmmakers. I volunteer my time to collect tickets or help at the box office or whatnot. I've done that in all years prior. And in the last couple of years, I've moved into more of a more of a robust role. You know, helping with some of the panels and, you know, helping sort of, you know, be the face of women in entertainment. Along with Patricia Cara and our other friends, Olina, who is a terrific and beautiful actress. And so the three of us have kind of, you know, stepped up to sort of help the festival and promote women in entertainment specifically. And we'll be moving into sort of more advisory roles and whatnot. But the reason I make time for that is because, first of all, it gives filmmakers from Greece a platform they wouldn't otherwise have. A lot of these filmmakers are really beautiful filmmakers, writers, producers, cinematographers, and they don't have the exposure that we do. So it gives them exposure to an American audience. And, you know, the festival is tries its best to offer some guidance and get them general meetings at different studios and companies and teach them, you know, about representation and that sort of thing. And so that's you know, that alone is near and dear to my heart. But even more than that, specifically, females trying to do it because I know how difficult it is. There is a huge gender disparity. I'm a firm believer in times up 50 50 by 2020. Every hashtag you possibly mentioned. Me too. All of it. Are all things that I have experienced firsthand and have become a strong advocate for women. And so for me, I like Greek film festival not, you know, sort of ties all of these causes together. And so that's where I like. That's why I like putting energy into it.
[00:47:26] Yeah. Wow. Where you do Dynamo. That's for sure. Did she had a lot of coffee this morning.
[00:47:35] So. So speaking to this morning. So what's a typical day look like when you get up to exercise, to eat? You know, you go go to meetings. How do you watch it? They look like for you. Sure. Was a couple. It was when you know, if you're you're on a certain project, what's that day look like? And if you're you're just sitting home and you have to create you have to write something. What's the day look like?
[00:47:59] Yes. So that they can look starkly different from one another. First of all, I'm a huge believer in strong body, strong lines. So I usually wake up and do a meditation exercise and try to avoid my phone because I was guilty of this up until recently. You no phone is the last thing I look at before bed. And the first thing I look at in the morning. So wake up and do some breath work and some meditation and then usually followed by a really nice breakfast. I make the time to sit and have breakfast and coffee, even if that means getting up, you know, at the first crack of dawn that that is my alone time and my time to sort of center myself and get ready for the day.
[00:48:38] And you still haven't looked at the phone, you. No, no, no. I'm looking at the phone. Yeah. That's really good. Yeah. Yeah. That that lasts a whole or five minutes.
[00:48:51] And then and then I usually I definitely get in a workout whether I'm doing some sort of circuit training or I love yoga, boxing. SoulCycle. SoulCycle is my weakness. I love it. It's just so much fun. It's like having a dance party, you know, and everyone's very charged up in that room. So, you know, a hike or whatnot. I always try and get in something, something first thing in the morning. Obviously, come home and and clean up.
[00:49:18] And that's the town you live in.
[00:49:19] I live in Larchmont Village, Hancock Park area by West Hollywood. And it's pretty central. So I can get up to the studios in the valley. I can get down to the beach. I can you know, it's pretty central, although it doesn't matter because traffic is traffic. And then like for now, for example, when Will and I were writing this story together from a dual perspective, neither one of us generally collaborates with other writers. A writers room for a television series is a different ball of wax. But I mean, for features, I definitely I never usually collaborate. And so in this case, we would usually take our mornings to ourselves to, you know, do our exercise and catch up on emails and schedule meetings and talk to our representatives and whatnot. And then we would get together late morning and for the last like I'd say since. Late October, we would just be grinding all day. We would just, you know, sit across from each other. We write in a collaborative. The newest versions of final draft have, you know, have sort of a script collaborator. So we would have the same document open and both be working within the document and talking out story. And we would go, you know, we were joking. We were you know, we we're work husband and wife because we're eating all of our meals together and going grocery shopping together and all of it, because it's just this was this was what we were doing all day, every day, and then go as late as we could possibly handle it.
[00:50:40] But the one thing we both agreed upon is no matter how hard we were grinding, we always needed to stop at a certain point in the day and just take a really, really long walk around the neighborhood.
[00:50:49] So let's keep talking to myself. I hear you say grinding because, you know, they could be taking in more than one way to get your head out of the bed.
[00:51:00] You said, OK. A different kind of thriller.
[00:51:06] I guess so. Yeah. No, not in this case. It's just. Well, I mean, is working hard.
[00:51:12] Working hard. Working hard. Yes.
[00:51:14] So that's what this has looked like. Obviously, when this goes to production, that will look entirely different. You know, we probably I know Will and I know his work ethic. Yeah. So Will is the type once we're on onset for this movie goes did I know Will is not the type to ever take a day off. So he'll probably go seven of seven days. I will be with this production of ghosted in some sort of capacity whether that's right or on set or in or produce aureole role yet to be determined. But I you know, I will try very hard to take at least one day a week away from set. Or at least a few hours just to not burn out. I know myself and having those little Chaykin moments to recalibrate are are necessary.
[00:51:55] And then there's other. You know, when I was on a drink and be married, that was that was a solo process. So my mornings would be the same and then I'd be grinding all day. But I'm sorry.
[00:52:03] Working hard all day.
[00:52:06] But then, you know, I was also still working for Netflix at the time. So generally I would write from, say, you know, 7:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon break for lunch, do all my reading for Netflix and then I try to block schedule meetings in the afternoon. The morning tends to be a little bit more dense with traffic and I'm freshest in the morning for writing. So, you know, meeting sometimes for me, even when they're fraught or when, you know, it's it's a nerve racking meeting or a pitch or whatnot. I try to do them in the afternoon just because it's a way it's it's again, it's a different muscle, a way to blow off steam in a different way. So I do that. I try to block schedule those in the afternoon, but every single day looks different. Every day is packed. And it's not a 9:00 to 5:00. And it's certainly not a Monday through Friday. I mean, there's not one day that goes by during the week where I'm not sitting down and churning on something for a few hours. But that's another great piece of advice that I have for all writers. Trying to come up in the business is you have to be a writer who writes. There are so many writers out there who will knock out one or two screenplays and then just get frustrated that nothing's happening. And the most successful writers I know, as soon as they're done with one thing, they're cooking the next. And even when they're working on that, next thing, they're cooking eight more ideas.
[00:53:20] And you do so much free work if there are probably. I don't know. Well over 200 projects that I've pitched on that I've never gotten, you know, like, you know, much free work, so much free writing, so much idea. Just stating that will never see the light of day. But it's a hit rate. Eventually you just keep going and going and going and eventually one will hit. And so, you know, I was I was happy to sort of cross that threshold a few years ago. And now I just have to keep proving my worth. And my biggest next goal is to be hopping to the next budget level. You know, I'm fitting squarely in the indie space right now under 10 million dollar movies. And, you know, Will and I are talking about this one that will be a much larger studio film. And I want to get into the 20 to 50 range now. So all this to say, you know, no day looks the same, but that's also what makes it so incredibly interesting and exciting.
[00:54:16] I've got the most gazillion dollar idea for you. I'm not I'm never going to do.
[00:54:22] I knew you'd pitch me here. All right. No, I know.
[00:54:25] Just let me stress given it to you, because I know I'll never do it, but it's the best idea I ever heard of on earth cameras. And so you talked about Batman of Studio, your work that you kind of did Batman or something.
[00:54:39] Well, yes. So fearless entertainment. So this is a real real quick.
[00:54:45] A Batman type guy made a fortune on the Internet, throws a big contest for virus writers and then gets them all in one place like a million dollar prize for the best virus they write.
[00:54:59] And then he kills all of see the reaction you got?
[00:55:05] Yeah, you'd be the hero of the whole world. So I guess it's all I know. That's comical right now with all of these deadly, if I say so. So that's the idea. It's all here. OK. What a gift. But I bet I won't see.
[00:55:22] The darn thing is I was up further apart in the remake of The Blob in the actual shop.
[00:55:31] No way. I am totally serious.
[00:55:33] The lady is husband that did the original blob. I helped her save one of her organizations. I did a fundraiser and saved her organization. And so she's I said the only thing I want to return is I want anything part in the remake of The Blob, I said, oh, oh, oh, blow that up for the rest of my life.
[00:55:55] What's in the blob? So to me, there's still joy, there's still the rebate.
[00:56:01] But that's that's gonna be my claim to fame right there.
[00:56:04] Oh, man, it's coming. I said I'll be the blob. I'll be whatever you just me going to wear. What are you gonna wear on the carpet? The blob, of course, is going to be. Who are some of the big designers that they block? I think Tom Ford is thinking about go to our Ford.
[00:56:25] Yeah. So so thanks so much for taking the time to give us a picture of the kind of life that you lead in. And for any of you young writers out there, just figure, you know, 18, 20 years ago. Circuit shots.
[00:56:42] Thank you so much for having me. This was such a blast. And I'd love to come back and. And yeah, we want to help you.
[00:56:47] We want to hear about when these shows come out, because now I got to worry about this all these days. The psychological thriller with what could happen.
[00:56:57] I know. I know it. Especially revenge tales. And just to end on a more positive note. Yes. It did take me a very, very long time. But to all the young writers out there.
[00:57:07] Same piece of advice that was given to me. If there is nothing else that you can do, if there's nothing else that you want to do, then do this. And know that it's gonna be hard. But just keep writing every single day and eventually you'll get there.
[00:57:20] There is this guy. Do you write on a computer freehand or.
[00:57:23] When I write on a computer, sometimes our voice dictate if I'm walking or have some idea in a random place, I'll just get it down really quickly on my phone. But generally I'm me and my Mac Book are a unit.
[00:57:35] Did you did you write down the Batman idea? I just came. I actually turned it down. You were saying good. Yes, sir.
[00:57:42] So how so? Is there a place online they can look at your stuff? Do you have a Web site or would they don't have a dedicated website.
[00:57:50] But I do have an MTV page so people can see just my producer credits, not the other things that I have sold or set up, but my producer credits are on there. And you can follow along, eat, drink and be married updates. You can follow me on Instagram. I'm at @liaboz, where I give a lot of updates on things coming up. And you know, and hopefully we'll just keep growing and expanding and and, you know, the screw the commute network. From what I understand, is very supportive of one another. So I'm looking forward to checking out everyone else that you've been telling me about and hearing their stories.
[00:58:23] So, yeah, we had a lame on here, too. If you knew that.
[00:58:27] No. Yeah. Yeah. She was on here. So thanks so much. And just keep me in mind, when you're getting the Oscar for the kill the virus movie and I'll be your plus one and I'll be your plus one. I'll be able to sit up in the balcony somewhere.
[00:58:46] Only if you wear your Tom Ford blob suit.
[00:58:48] Okay. It's a deal. All right. Thanks so much. They appreciate it so much. Everybody, we will catch you on the next episode. See you later.
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