We sat down with one of our exceptional film instructors, Dr. Michael Peter Bolus, and asked him questions about his beginnings in the industry, and how he has overcome challenges as an entertainment professional.
What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry?
“Sneaking downstairs at midnight when I was a little boy to watch John Garfield, Spencer Tracy, and Wallace Beery on the Late Late Late Show. I knew then, “I want to do that!” Even though at the time, I had no idea what it all meant, or what an “Entertainment Industry” was.
What are some of your favorite experiences so far in your entertainment career?
“They are varied. I was weaned in the theatre, so watching something that you’ve written and directed being performed before a live audience is always thrilling. As is working with amazing artists like Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, Anna Deveare Smith, and Sean Penn. And while there is no visceral thrill like acting, I derive much more long-term satisfaction from having written something that I’m proud of.”
What are some projects that you have worked on, and what are you working on next?
“As an actor, I’ve done a bunch of episodic TV shows like NCIS and all the Law and Order series, as well as a couple of feature films. In the last few years I’ve written and directed a few short films, the latest of which, SULLIVAN STREET, was featured at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. I recently sold the option to my screenplay, COPPER WIRE, and am working on revisions of a Techno-Thriller called THE GOD PARTICLE. Next, will be biopic of a hugely famous and problematic figure, but I can’t tell you his name!”
What do you think is the most challenging part of working in the industry, and how did you learn to overcome it?
“The most challenging thing is a brutal, ferocious, competitiveness, that doesn’t always reward hard work, talent, and perseverance. You overcome it by creating a life in which your happiness is not dependent on material success, fame, or power. If those things come along, that’s great — but if they don’t, you’ll still have a life that is rich, rewarding, full, and interesting. I love to cook, read, draw and paint, take photographs, write, and take my sons camping. Those are things that I will always do, no matter what is happening in my “career.”
What advice would you give to aspiring entertainment professionals?
“There are a few things: 1) Know why you’re in this, and learn to love and embrace the process — results are important, but they tend to be fickle. And you’re never really “finished”…until you’re finished! And if what you’re really after is a mansion in Bel Air with a swimming pool and a Maserati in the driveway, that’s fine — but there are much more efficient ways to achieve that. 2) Do each day’s work each day. 3) Don’t rush, but never stop. 4) A quote from Warhol: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, keep making more art.” 5) A quote from Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 6) And, finally, a quote from Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.”