Author interview with Kenny Golde
Kenny Golde is a filmmaker and author. In 2008, he directed and produced “Uncross the Stars,” a comedic drama starring Academy Award nominee Barbara Hershey and “Hellboy” star Ron Perlman. Prior to that, Kenny directed and wrote the screenplay for “The Job,” a thriller starring Daryl Hannah, distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment, and he co-wrote “The Smokers,” starring Dominique Swain and Busy Phillips, distributed by MGM/UA.
Kenny has written two fiction novels, the Sci-Fi adventure “Apollo Main,” currently available on Amazon, and the soon to be released historical drama, “A Full Measure of Happiness.”
His latest book is “The Do-It-Yourself Bailout: How I reduced my credit card debt from $212,000 to $30,000 in six months and saved over $100,000,” a true story of Kenny’s experiences negotiating settlements with major U.S. banks to reduce his debt by 85%. He is currently giving lectures and interviews to teach others the process of Do-It-Yourself debt reduction. He lives in Los Angeles, CA..
1. Tell us about your latest book.
In 2007, while I was shooting “Uncross the Stars,” my good friend and financier became ill and, sadly, passed away, leaving me to cover nearly a quarter of a million dollars in expenses to finish the film. I had to put most of it on credit cards with the anticipation that we would finish the film, sell it and pay-off the balances.
Unfortunately, just as we were finishing the film the housing market collapsed, then the credit markets collapsed, and with them the market for independent films collapsed. I was servicing the debt, paying nearly $4000 a month in interest. I was overwhelmed, losing sleep, losing hair, I even lost a girlfriend because I couldn’t focus on life or fun or relationships. The debt was consuming me. I was scared for my future and quickly sliding toward bankruptcy and destitution.
“The Do-It-Yourself Bailout” is not just the story of my experiences negotiating my debt, it is the story of my personal journey through the fear, shame and pain, eventually coming to a place of acceptance that allowed me to treat the negotiations as business, without hindering myself through doubt and self-recrimination.
Now, I hope that my experienccs might help others in my situation to overcome the emotion and self-judgment that comes with their debt, negotiate settlements on their own debt, and start living their life with freedom and joy again.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’d always wanted to be a writer. I was the kid in 3rd grade who would take a one-page class project home for the weekend and come back with twenty. I wrote my first novel in the 9th grade. It was horrible, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment the night I typed the last sentence.
Professional writing started for me when I graduated from Berkeley, returned to Los Angeles and started working in the film business. I started as a producer to learn filmmaking, then put my production skills to use to get my own scripts made. I co-wrote “The Smokers,” then wrote and directed a half-hour short film called “Food for Thought,” which aired on HBO. The first full length screenplay that I wrote and directed was “The Job.”
After making a couple of films I decided that I missed the prose writing of my youth and turned back to novel writing. Now I am a full-time screewriter and part-time novelist.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Every morning I wake up and have to “create a day.” I’ve been a freelance writer and filmmaker for ten years. I can hardly remember the last time I had to go to an office. I really am thankful and fortunate to have a life that allows me to write everyday, but it is a challenge to turn creative freedom into business on a regular basis.
Creating a day could be working all day on a script, or making phone calls all day to set meetings with producers or financiers on the road to getting a film made. Sometimes I’ll spend whole morning re-cutting my director’s reel or a trailer for one of my films, or working on my website. It’s amazing how three hours can go by just burning a couple of DVD’s and getting them to the post office. I wish I had an assistant, but oh well, not yet.
These days, with “The Do-It-Yourself Bailout,” I spend a lot of time blogging, submitting articles on various websites, social networking, and trying to generate opportunities for interviews and appearances to promote the book.
I also try to go jogging with my dog at least several times a week, find an hour a day to read, and keep up on recent film releases.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I’m not ritualistic about my writing space. I can write almost anywhere. I once wrote most of a screenplay by hand sitting in a bar in SoHo, drinking beers while the place filled in and got louder and I didn’t even notice. When I write by hand I tend to have my left elbow on the table and my forehead leaning in my left palm while I scribble on the page. I also spend a lot of time with my laptop at cafes and coffee shops. I have three criteria to a good café to write at: 1) all day free parking 2) food as well as a good selection of hot tea 3) lots of power plugs and free internet access. There are a good half dozen cafes in Los Angeles that I write in as often as I write at home.
As far as home goes, I used to have my desk in a separate bedroom that I sued as an office, but a few months ago I moved the desk back into my bedroom and work in there. I don’t know why. Maybe the office was too big.
I have a light colored, wooded desk. My laptop and an external monitor. A lot of hard drives and plugs and cables. Two printers, a laser printer and a color ink jet. Nothing fancy.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
“How to Make a Good Script Great” by Linda Segar
“The Art of Dramatic Writing” by Lajos Egri
Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War”
Vladimir Nabakov’s “Lolita”
Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”
J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”
Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities”
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
My favorite snack is peanut butter and apples.
I’m amazed at how much a person can love a dog. My dog’s name is C.J., she’s a chocolate brown, 3 ½ year old Staffordshire Terrier.
I’ve been scuba diving with Manta Rays.
7. Favorite quote
I have two:
“Success is the ability to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
“Nobody every went broke underestimating the taste of the American People.” P.T. Barnum (I think)
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best part of being a writer is the escapism. No matter what’s going on in the world, no matter how bad the news is, or the economy, no matter the weather, I can always spend a few hours, days, weeks, in complete happiness, escaping to the lives of characters, the intricacies of plotting, the challenge of language, and my life feels full and complete.
The worst part of being a writer is the escapism. When trying to get a film made is taking too long, or when the rejection slips on the novels come in, when there’s bad news about the war, the world, the economy or the weather, writing is always there as a way to not pay attention to it all, to let is slip by. Months of life can slip by while writing, often leaving me afterward wondering whether they were used well or wasted.
9. Advice for other writers
My advice to writers is not to take advice. I’ve taken some really bad advice in my life. When I was 18 and just starting out as a wanna-be screenwriter I went to a seminar on film production and met a man in his 60’s who’d written something like 200 TV scripts in his career. I told him I’d written my first TV script at 14 and he said, “no one buys scripts from 14-year-olds.” And I believed him. I spent 15 years as a producer thinking I had to be “older,” (undefined, just “older”) before anyone would take me seriously as a writer. Of course, in that time, I past the prime age for being hired as a TV writer, the 20’s, and then watched the movie “Thirteen” come out, written by a 13-year-old. And if “don’t take advice” is too strong, then at the very least recognize that all advice is tinged by the giver’s interpretation of their own experiences and may have very little, if anything to do with you. Learn, sure. Study. Experience. Read. Write. Interpret. Idealize. But do it all from your own perspective, not someone else’s.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I really enjoyed an onset re-write I had do to while shooting “The Job.” It was a rare rainy day in Los Angeles. A real RAINY day, not just drizzle but a down pour. The river of water in the street was so bad it was carrying equipment away. We blew two big lights and the sun was going down. We’d been shooting inside most of the day and had another exterior scene to do and I knew there was no way we were going to finish the scene inside, move outside, get the big lights back up and get an exterior scene before we ran out of time.
So I rewrote about two and a half pages of script into one shot, a single camera move that began looking over a balcony at one character walking across a lobby, getting into an elevator, then following the elevator as it came up, he exited in one direction and the camera dollied the other way to reveal the other character watching him.
It wound up being one of my favorite shots in the film. We even used it in the trailer. A dozen people have asked me, “How did you come up with that shot?” and my answer is always the same: “Out of necessity.”
It was a big lesson, too. For all the hours that I can labor over a single paragraph, sometimes the right thing just comes to you and you’ve got to go with it.
Where can people buy your books?
Yes, please, buy “The Do-It-Yourself Bailout.” Recommend it to friends. Buy it and give it to everyone you know. Please! So many people are suffering and struggling in horrible debt right now. I really hope that “The Do-It-Yourself Bailout” can save lives. It’s available on my website, http://www.SettleYourCreditCards.com, and on Amazon. I also have a blog on the website and would love to hear your thoughts on the book, as well as a link listing my upcoming media appearances and speaking engagements.