Powerhouse producers Alexandra Milchan-Lambert ’94 and Scott Lambert shared advice about making it in the entertainment industry and what the journey of development looks like today in a talk at Emerson College Los Angeles on March 23.
The wife and husband team, who together produced the film Paranoia and are currently producing a number of film and TV projects including the upcoming AMC series The Terror (she has also produced The Wolf of Wall Street among other films and he has worked on The Fighter and Limitless), told the audience full of students and alumni that having the Emerson name on their resumes was already a good first step into the entertainment industry.
“Emerson has a great reputation in this town,” said Milchan-Lambert. “Emerson kids are known for having a great attitude and being fun.”
Alexandra Milchan-Lambert and Scott Lambert takes questions from the audience. Photo/Daryl Paranada
That news was music to the ears of Michael Nowak ’16, a Visual and Media Arts major hoping to become a producer one day.
“I wanted to come to this event to get advice about the business that we don’t get in classes,” said Nowak, who is interning at FilmNation Entertainment this semester. “To listen to successful producers and hear what they have to say was really great.”
Throughout the night, the duo stressed the importance of good stories that aren’t middle-of-the-road. Milchan-Lambert told the audience that while TV is going through a period of great creativity, films are suffering.
“There are a lot of great buyers,” said Milchan-Lambert. “There isn’t a lot of great material.”
“Don’t play it safe,” added Lambert. “We are constantly looking for unbelievable stories.”
For students and young alumni in the audience hoping to make it in the industry, Milchan-Lambert said that you have to be positive and have great energy and a strong work ethic. To stress her point, she told the audience that a writer she is working with has written 20 drafts of one of her scripts without complaint. Lambert told the crowd that to get a job in the business you have to be relentless.
“Know your stuff,” said Lambert. “Know what it is that you have that makes you special.”
Alexandra Milchan-Lambert '94 and Scott Lambert share career advice with students and alumni at ELA. Photo/Daryl Paranada
The duo used examples from their past experiences to illustrate ways to break into the industry. Lambert, a former executive vice president at the William Morris Agency, described how to get a job as an agent. He encouraged aspiring agents to apply to a training program like he did, moving from an agent’s assistant to a junior agent. Though he started out working in the mailroom, Lambert said the experience was valuable because the people he worked with eventually became top players in the industry.
“You better know the top players in town,” said Lambert. “Educate yourself and absorb everything.”
Milchan-Lambert, a former executive vice president of production at New Regency, described years toiling away “doing crazy things for many people.” She encouraged students to look into working with brands that are hungry to own content. She said the first step in that process is coming up with a concept that the brand would find cool.
“Know the brand, what it stands for, come up with an interesting concept, contact the head of creative, and submit your idea,” said Milchan-Lambert. “If that doesn’t work, go through a producer.”
Alexandra Milchan-Lambert ’94, Scott Lambert, and ELA Vice President and Founding Director Kevin Bright '76.
When asked why she wanted to produce, Milchan-Lambert had a simple answer—she loved it.
“There’s not a day that goes by where I go home without reading scripts or a book,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything else.”
Jessaka Dukes ’95, a production coordinator, said Milchan-Lambert’s answer was something that would stick with her.
“Regardless of how things have changed in the industry over the last 20 years, you have to love it if you want to be in it,” said Dukes.