Posts

Summary

Trai Cartwright is a 25-year industry veteran and a creative writing and business development specialist. She teaches, produces and writes screenplays and novels. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film producer and story consultant, and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema.

She was the assistant director for Leonardo DiCaprio‘s online endeavors, and the manager for 20th Century Fox‘s Mobile Studios. Trai currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for Western State Colorado University, Denver University, and CU Denver. Conferences, cons, and one-on-one as a development and story editor. She's the screenwriter of Secret Ellington, and the producer of a docu-webseries called Hidden Tigers, and a short film called Sundown Road.

Show Notes

[1:20] Trai’s background

[2:36] Growing up as a child writer and storyteller

[3:09] Trai's introduction to screenwriting, film, theatre, and community at NYU

[4:52] The discovery that crew work was not her calling

[6:17] Trai's first studio job at Orion Pictures, Sharon Bidal, and Wordperfect

[7:50] Lessons obtained (in hindsight) about education

[9:59] The film industry and the adventurous spirit

[11:50] Figuring out how you want to work

[12:48] The value of being a PA

[13:22] How Trai earned her money

[16:29] Decompressing in Fort Collins

[18:02] Doing time in Chicago, and a fortuitous encounter in a pool hall

[19:50] Gary Marshall, Northwestern University, and Avid editing systems

[21:38] The Honeymoon Period, and learning when to call the fire department

[25:43] Heading to LA with Dawn Wildsmith, Surf Nazis Must Die, and being a PA in LA

[32:19] How temping changed Trai's life

[33:54] Working in the industry, and The Irv Scheckter Company

[36:12] Adventures with Prelude Pictures

[38:24] Lost in Space in Marilyn Monroe's old dressing room at Paramount Pictures

[39:33] VP of Creative Services and Peter Saphier

[41:11] Side work with writers

[42:47] Working remotely as a viable option in the film industry

[44:25] Amassing skills as a crew person in Colorado

[45:24] The need to go where the opportunities are

[48:00] Filmmaking as a career vs. a hobby/project

[49:30] 10,000 hours to expertise, 5,000 hours to competence

[50:30] Ambition vs. heart – for writers, directors and producers

[51:47] Having the persistence and be willing to truly commit in the film industry

[53:15] Savoring the brilliant moments and learning to fall

[55:21] Living in Colorado while working in the industry

[56:55] Building businesses in Colorado vs. California

[59:40] Working in Colorado

[1:01:22] The coup at Creative Artists Agency

[1:04:57] Teaching the business of show business

[1:06:37] The value of education

[1:08:00] Never stop learning

[1:09:45] Vet your educators in order to build yourself a community

[1:12:27] Leaving LA

[1:17:36] Creativity defined

[1:18:37] Marriage and creative people

[1:20:20] Shifting perspectives in order to succeed and be happy

[1:23:03] Pulling back in order to move forward, and lift other people up

[1:27:20] Creating a Master's Program with Denver Media Professionals

[1:28:28] Women in Film and Media in Colorado (WIFMCO)

[1:32:00] Find an organization that resonates with you, and become a part of it

[1:34:25] All the cool things that WIFMCO does

[1:37:05] Giving back and investing within the Colorado film and media industry

[1:40:16] The lesson learned over the last year

[1:42:11] The biggest life lesson

[1:44:40] Advice for aspiring screenwriters

Links and resources

 

Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!