Ep153: Mob Scene CEO Tom Grane on What It Takes to Succeed in Trailers & Marketing (Without Sacrificing Work-Life Balance)

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“We work to live. We don’t live to work.”
– Tom Grane

When I first began my career in Hollywood the concept of life outside of work was completely foreign to me. I assumed the only way to reach my goals was to sacrifice my health and sanity for the sake of a great résumé, only to discover those early habits become lifelong habits if you’re not careful. Once this mentality sets in and you set this expectation with others it can be practically impossible to reverse. That is why I am actively trying to change the conversation around our “get it done at all costs” work culture and collaborate with employers and business owners who understand the importance of work-life balance.

Early in my career I was fortunate enough to experience a work culture where well-being was a priority at what was then a small fledgling trailer & marketing agency. Fast-forward fifteen years and today Mob Scene is one of the top movie marketing companies in the business – largely because of the culture that co-founder and CEO Tom Grane created from the very start. This innovative company has been an integral part of the marketing campaigns for projects like Avatar, Stranger Things, Fast 9, Wonder Woman, Joker, Knives Out, and The Trial of the Chicago 7…and that’s just recently. Historically they have provided marketing and original content for more marketing campaigns than I could list if I had the entire episode to do so.

Having a background as a studio executive for 20th Century Fox, Tom admits to having a strong work ethic, and he’s spent his fair share of hours working late and being away from his family. But his motivation when he founded Mob Scene was to create more flexibility with his time and be more available to his family, and he believed in fostering an environment that provides the same flexibility for his team. In our conversation we discuss a variety of topics that can help creatives better understand what it takes to get an opportunity at a company like Mob Scene, that can help producers and business owners better understand the importance of fostering work-life balance with your teams, and that can help all of us better understand how to navigate our constantly changing landscape of content whether we’re working from home, at the office, or adopting a hybrid work environment.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • How Tom got his start in the entertainment industry.
  • What led Tom to working for Fox for 16 years and then taking the leap to opening his own marketing company.
  • Tom’s advice to young people just starting out in the business.
  • How Tom created the culture of Mob Scene.
  • Why they chose the name Mob Scene for the company and meaning behind the logo.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Family and teamwork are the foundation of what makes Mob Scene successful.
  • How Tom encourages trailer editors to do their best work and survive the competitive nature of the business.
  • Why Tom knew from day one he wanted to create a division-less company and how it has helped them survive over the years.
  • The changes that streaming platforms have made to the marketing industry and how Mob Scene has adapted.
  • What’s missing from the work from home experience.
  • Alternate working options coming out of the COVID pandemic.
  • Why it’s important to have in-person interactions and what we miss when it’s taken away.
  • Understanding the criteria that sets people apart when it comes to getting hired.
  • How the promotion system works at Mob Scene and why they primarily promote from within.
  • The lack of diversity in the trailer world and how he’s trying to change it at Mob Scene.
  • The most important soft skills necessary for getting hired.
  • The importance of identifying the ‘note beneath the note.’
  • Why young people just starting out should look for companies that promote work/life balance.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY:  Your connections can also be your friends.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

DVD – Wikipedia

Mob Scene

Tom Grane’s Facebook Page

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of Optimize Yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.

Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself podcast. If you're a brand new optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you're inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G. welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vets, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you clicked the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire, to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. And now on to today's show. When I first began my career in Hollywood, the concept of life outside of work was completely foreign to me. I assumed that the only way to reach my goals was to sacrifice my health and my sanity for the sake of a great resume, only to discover that those early habits become lifelong habits if you're not careful. Once this mentality sets in and you set this expectation with others, it can be practically impossible to reverse. And that is why I am actively trying to change the conversation around our get it done at all costs work culture, so we can collaborate with employers and business owners who understand the importance of work life balance. Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to experience a work culture where a well being was a priority at what was then a small fledgling trailer and marketing agency. Fast forward 15 years and today, Mob Scene is one of the top movie marketing companies in the business, largely because of the culture that co founder and CEO Tom Grane created from the very start. This innovative company has been an integral part of the marketing campaigns for projects like Avatar, Stranger Things, Fast Nine, Wonder Woman, Joker, Knives Out, and The Trial of The Chicago Seven. And that's just recently in like the last year. Historically, they have provided marketing and original content for more marketing campaigns than I can list if I literally had the entire episode to do so. Having a background as a studio executive for 20th Century Fox, our guest today Tom admits to having a strong work ethic and he has spent his fair share of hours working super late and being away from his family. But his motivation when he founded Mob Scene was to create more flexibility with his time and be more available to his family. And he believed in fostering an environment that provides the same flexibility for his team. In our conversation. Today, we discuss a variety of topics that are going to help you as a creative, better understand what it takes to get an opportunity. If you're interested in working at a company like Mob Scene. It's also going to help producers and business owners better understand the importance of fostering work life balance with your teams. And this conversation can also help all of us better understand how we can navigate our constantly changing landscape of content. And that's whether or not we're working from home or at the office, or we're trying to adapt to a new hybrid work environments. Now before diving right in, I first like to thank podcast Insider, Chris Colton, for contributing questions to today's interview. Wondering how you can do the same well if today's interview provided you value, but perhaps there are a few of your own questions that you wish you could have asked, or you have a guest suggestion of your own, then I'm excited to share with you our podcast insider program. As a loyal listener and reader, you have the opportunity to become more involved in the content that we create for future episodes. And before you ask, becoming an insider is completely totally free. And all it requires is your honest feedback. All you have to do is visit optimizeyourself.me/insider and fill out a short survey and you're in. That's it. That's simple. As an insider, you have the ability to provide feedback on current episodes, suggest future guests and provide questions that I can ask them and you'll also be the first to hear about upcoming workshops and masterclasses with discounts and you might even be a guest on a future Q&A episode with me live on a zoom call. Once again. All it takes is five minutes of your honest feedback and optimizeyourself.me/insider All right. Without further ado, my conversation with co founder and CEO of Mob Scene, Tom Grane, made possible today by our amazing sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven, who are going to be featured just a bit later in today's interview, to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes, as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast.

I'm here today with Tom Grane, who is the co founder and CEO of Mob Scene. and dare I say even though it has been a little while somebody that I consider a friend and a big part of the early portion of my journey to get where I am today. And I'm super, super excited to have you on the show and just pick your brain and learn all about how you do what you do in the business of trailers. So I'm really excited to have you here.

Tom Grane 5:50

But it's great to be here, Zack, and it's even better to be talking to you because it has been a little while unfortunately that we haven't really connected.

Zack Arnold 5:56

Well the cool story about you and I and I love to tell the story all the time when people ask me about the trailer industry and you have no idea how often the name Mob Scene comes out now comes up all the time. It's crazy. And whenever somebody brings it up to me, as if I had never heard of the company because if they do their research, they would never really know I was associated with him like, wow, let me tell you a story about the old days. Because I was literally there week one, you guys had cables all over the floor. You were still figuring out what furniture goes in what room I think maybe grand total including me of six employees, maybe eight it was you it was Christian. It was me, Brian, Jason Craig. And I think that was it. But it was less than 10 people from what I remember that was it. And then Phil came in. Yeah. Phil came in like, yeah, shortly after that, like, like a month. Yeah, but the first few weeks. I know for sure there are less than 10 of us. I don't know the exact You know, I think the day we opened up there was six. Yeah, and and the biggest client keeping the doors open was life after film school. That was the big behemoths at the time. Because I remember getting assigned to cut the pilot for that, which for me at the time was like, Oh my god, something long form and scripted. Because that's what I wanted to do.

Tom Grane 7:11

Which by the way, if you remember was actually shot in my office, the very first pilot episode.

Zack Arnold 7:16

I do remember that? Yeah. Well, anyway, the we could reminisce forever, and we might reminisce a little bit. But the purpose of today's conversation is really twofold. The first of which is I get questions all the time where people want to understand what's the best fit for me, do I want to go in the short form world? Do I want to go long form? What are the differences between them. And I talk a lot about the long form scripted narrative world because I've lived in that world for, I think, like 15 years now. But I don't talk enough about the trailer and advertising side of the industry even though though those were my roots. So I wanted to speak some about that. But a lot of today's conversation is actually going to be off the beaten path a bit. And I want to better understand your mindset as the CEO. Because what you have built me having seen it from week one to what you become today is nothing short of astonishing in the landscape that we have in today's media with things that have changed so much. And it requires so much innovation, and just rapid fire ways to kind of deal with what the industry is going through. And you guys, at least from what I can tell from the outset, I'm sure not without its challenges, you guys have really weathered a lot, if not all of it. And the first one that I can think of just as a small example, would be back when I was working for you fairly regularly. As a freelance editor, I was doing a lot of DVD extra features. And for all the younger listeners, I'll put a Wikipedia link to what a DVD is. But someone could say, well, you stake your claim on DVD home entertainment that disappears. So I guess that's it. You guys just figured out over the years how to do so much innovation and change. And I've been really impressed by that. And I want to better understand that. And also what it takes to be able to work for a company like Mob Scene, but where I want to start is the beginning. Because you came from the creative world yourself before you decided to start a company. So can you give us just a little bit of background about the Tom, what he was doing when he decided you know what, I think I want to start yet another marketing agency.

Tom Grane 9:17

Sure. Well, let me give you a brief bit of background. I went to USC film school, had an internship my senior year at Columbia Pictures working for the guy who was in charge of behind the scenes that internship through relationships that I met there literally landed me my my first three job real paying jobs in the industry, where I worked at a small PR firm, and then a small production distribution company called Atlantic releasing which actually wasn't that small at the time. And then in the mid to late 80s. They had done the original team wolf that I worked at United Artists for a brief stint before being at 20 Century Fox for 16 years. So at Fox I was hired to run there Find the scenes unit. And also slash be a broadcast publicist, which meant that I was booking talent on Entertainment Tonight and good morning america for all their films. And also overseeing the EP KS, which are the behind the scenes EP k stands for electronic press kit. So it was kind of like tape version, the video version of a regular press kit that you would send a press, but you'd send this to the TV press. And it would include film clips from the movie, the trailer was split audio, we do our own interviews with talent, and we put sound bites and interview selects on there and also be rolled, which is behind the scenes footage. So it would allow TV stations to create their own stories, and have supplemental materials to make them better. That quickly grew because Fox at that time, Murdoch's intention really was buying the studio but to create a bigger media empire. And so he launched the Fox Network, about five years prior to me joining. He was at that time, as soon as I joined, was starting to put build FX, FX m, Fox News, all these other stations that he was was putting together Fox family at the time. And so suddenly, within a year, by being there, we realized that we had this opportunity with all these networks that were being coming around the studio, that we could create content that they could promote our movies, if we gave it we found that if we created it, and gave it to them, they were also knew they would run it all the time. So they took away the publicists duties for me and I became the first full time person in the business at a studio to just solely focus on what now is called creative content. But it's really running the behind the scenes unit and creating special pieces with the biggest thing and my favorite thing to do when I was at Fox was doing HBO first Lux was my favorite thing to do. You could do half hour 15 minute shows. And they were long form, essentially. But they were they were docu, you know, they were many documentaries on the making of movies. And they became often a lot less promotional. And we tried to be make them feel more documentary than to be a promotional film. And that now that was always an interesting, creative challenge for me. But that's that's essentially what it was. And then I spent 16 years at Fox. And that last year, what ended up happening was actually the last two years, I was also because I was also doing trailers and TV spots, the last five years I was there. And it just 16 years was enough time. And it was time in my life where I just had my kids, I had a two year old and a like six month old. And I was like, You know what, I'm not sure. I'm gonna do this in the studio anymore, I'm gonna have to challenge myself and do something different. And I also because of the kids being so little, I was literally working from 9am till 11. And I don't, I have an incredible work ethic that it wasn't about the hours. But I was I was tired all the time. You know, and it was frustrating not to be able to see my kids, I wanted to take control of my life more so than I had working for someone else. So it was at that point, then the last year that I was there, that I started to venture out and see what else could I do? And I interviewed with a bunch of who are now my competitors, about potentially joining them. Brian Daly, who was another advertising executive at Fox approached me saying, Hey, would you be maybe be interested in forming a company and I said, Well, let's keep the talk going. But I've never done that before. I don't know if I've got that in me, I've got two young kids, I'm not sure I want to start working out of my garage at this point in my life. And then I kept interviewing at these other houses, and people were throwing nice salaries at me and stuff like that, where it's like, Okay, my life isn't gonna change, I can still pay for my family. But it wasn't necessarily the dramatic enough switch that I was looking for in my life. So I kept talking with Brian. And you know, we decided in October of 2005, that we would make this jump, because we got an investor to come in for 20% of the company that would basically give us enough money that we could operate for six months, and the two of us can basically take salaries that were not quite what we were making at Fox, but it wasn't going to change our lifestyle, I could still send my kids to preschool, I can still you know afford groceries and whatnot. And so we took that leap

Zack Arnold 14:29

So you decided that I've got a two year old and a six month old and the best thing I can do to have more time with them is I'm going to start a company from scratch

Tom Grane 14:37

well you know what it was it was more about design thinking about the into the future that if we were successful, I would be have much more control of my own time schedule at that point in time. So I was like okay, let's you know obviously that first year you were around it a lot. I was there a ton. It may have been kind of foolish of me to think this because I still around there but ah And it has been that way for 15 years. But listen, if I if my kids have something that's very important that a dance show, or something like this, I can take the time off and go without asking anyone. So that's what was really in a weird way. What motivates me to do it on our own was to actually have the ability to spend more time with my kids.

Zack Arnold 15:21

Yeah, I can completely relate to all that because one of the things that I talked about on the show and that I talked about with the students that I have in my mentorship program is they have to think about playing a game of chess. And to look at that decision at the time. It's like, well, if your needs are you want more time with your kids, why wouldn't you just take a regular lateral move salary job, but one of the competitors that you have now just being an executive, but you are really thinking multiple moves ahead. And for you, it's all about control of my time, which you and I are wired exactly the same way, I can work 80 hours a week, if I'm my own boss, working 80 hours a week, but 40 hours a week that goes against the grain of my needs. And my schedule just creates all kinds of stress and anxiety for me. And that was that's one of the reasons that I think you and I hit it off so well. So early that I still appreciate To this day, is that you understood that ultimately, big picture, I probably wasn't the right fit for Mob Scene because I really wanted to do long form features. That's I wouldn't shut up about it. I was always telling you and Brian, like, I want to go work out this feature, do you have anything long form? I remember way back in the day, you might not even remember, but I got to work with Michael Patrick Kelly on a couple of DVD episodes of the comeback. Which do you guys think I will just throw it to Zack as he keeps talking about doing long form. But that got me meetings that got me into rooms where people took me seriously. But at the same time, you knew that big picture, I probably wasn't going to go into the behind the scenes feature content or be a staff guy. But you recognize what really was the best fit for me. But at the same time you were willing and open for me to be a part of your team and a part of your culture as you were building it as it was the right fit for me and the right fit for you. You might not realize it. But that period of time where I was kind of going in and out the door and doing this HBO first look or this feature ad or kind of helping out on a DVD thing that made the difference between me being able to transition into doing features in TV and not doing it. Because that's how I was able to make a living, I was taking features for no money, I had one feature that I did for eight months for $0. And Mob Scene in the work that you provided me paid all of my bills. So you had a huge, huge part of me being able to make that transition. But frankly, you also could have been a dick. And you could have just said, You know what, listen, if you're not going to be here, and you're not all in and you can't do all the trailer stuff, we don't need you. But you weren't. And I do have to just say on a personal level, how much I appreciate the fact that you were willing to do that way back in the day.

Tom Grane 17:43

Well, you know, you're one of the first ones I've always felt that way or it's like, there's no, there's no point in me standing in between someone an employee's career, you know, if they, if they really want to do something else, it's like, and I've had a lot of people after you that have wanted to do other things that I'm like, you know, absolutely, this is what you want to do, I'll let you out of a contract, you know, you know, it's the only difference would be is if someone wanted to just go to a competitor and do the same thing. That's a different story. But if someone wanted to make a huge change in their life, like, let's take Jason Groff, who was one of the first employees that we worked with, Jason worked for me for I want to say, want to say but 18 years, he started on my desk as an assistant at Fox and came over with when we started Mob Scene, and recently was given an opportunity to go over and do basically my old fox job at Sony. And I'm like, you know, I hated seeing him go. But I'm like, if this is really what you want out of your life, and this is what you want to do, you've got my blessings, and I'll let you out of your contract. You know, it's I don't think it behooves anyone to hold someone back. If they're not going to be happy doing what they're doing, you know, and you're happy doing what you're doing at that time. But you've always had a bit of a different ambition. And once that started to, you know, flourish for you. It was like, you know, God bless you. Good luck, you know, and I look forward to seeing your name in the credits.

Zack Arnold 19:13

And one of the conversations I remember having probably more than once, as I'd said to you, if Mob Scene was in the business of doing long form scripted shows, I'll work for you for the rest of my life. Because it was the culture I wanted to be a part of. I love the people. But you and I both knew that it wasn't creatively the work that I was really shooting for big picture. And it's it's a multi year game, as I've learned to go from the trailer and advertising world into the long form world, which is one of the biggest questions that people ask me, how do you make a transition from one area of the industry to another because a lot of times the assumption is, well, you're a trailer editor. You're a comedy editor and you couldn't possibly broaden your perspective and just be able to cut story you can only pigeonhole yourself as one thing. And I was always terrified of getting pigeonholed, doing wrong thing, which is why I ended up being so selective. And you were open minded enough to see that that made made sense for both of us at the time.

Tom Grane 20:07

But you also have that one. It's funny, ironic, because yesterday, I guess speak a couple times at various film schools and whatnot. And yesterday afternoon, I didn't want it for Loyola Marymount. And it the what a bit of advice I always give young kids coming into the business is, you know, the number one attribute you got to have is persistence, in a loving desire for what it is that you want to do. Because you know, it, maybe it'll take two or three years to get that ball rolling. But if you're persistent, it will get rolling. You know, it's those who are sitting there thinking that, Oh, well, I've just graduated from school, I'm owed this or don't quite haven't found their passion, or their passion is kind of not, it's off to the side. But if you're persistent, you're going to succeed, and you're going to succeed at what you want to do and get out of your career.

Zack Arnold 20:56

Yeah, I clearly I echo that sentiment, because if there were ever a word, if I were forced to tattoo it on my forehead, it would probably be persistence. So there's no question about that. What I'm curious about now, is how you created the culture that you did it Mob Scene, because you see the word family on the website a lot. And I feel like you were very specific in the early days, about the kinds of people that came into the company, because at first there were there were some people that kind of came and went and this person, they're not really a good fit. And there was a period of time where I think you were figuring out what is Mob Scene, who are we in? What do we do? And Ivan remember very, very early in the day where it was called Mob Scene creative and productions, and it's like, But wait, what, what is Mob Scene? Exactly? Is it a trailer house? Is it a DVD content company? And I think one of the things that's made you successful is there is no clear answer to that. But talk to me about how you've kind of formed who you are and what your company culture is.

Tom Grane 21:53

It's actually kind of ironic, when when Brian and I were kicking around names for the company, when we were putting everything together, we really couldn't settle on anything. I'm a huge Springsteen fan. And I kept trying to put Springsteen songs is the title of our company, you know, the name of our company, I think Brian came up with the name Mob Scene, which didn't really stick out to me. But it was the idea was to draw people to an entertainment property, we were creating a Mob Scene around what were what products were what you know, films and properties we were working on. But it didn't really stick until we hired a designer to come up with logos. The first time I saw our logo, which, for those of you who can't see a dentist run a podcast, but for those who haven't seen it, it's a fist wrapped in newspaper, you know, not so subtle tip of the hand to the Godfather and to the mafia. And I saw that and I was like, we can't go with that. That's ridiculous. But it made me laugh. It gave me a chuckle. I kept going back to that. And we were kind of like winking to ourselves. But what we didn't realize at the time was, we've kind of embraced the whole idea of the mafia, behind the culture of the company, obviously, not the crime aspect of it.

Zack Arnold 23:08

So we'll cut all those parts out for legal reasons, yes.

Tom Grane 23:10

But the part about family and how family is the most important thing in in that unit. And how that you know, you would put Family First, we call ourselves monsters. We have since a very I don't know if we that was there when you when you were there, but it's been a long time that we've been referring to each other as monsters. And the culture is literally about family and creating family and having each other's back. That was important to me. Because I saw those last few years at Fox, I had been at Fox four, where the culture literally was a family culture. When we had people like Tom sherek, and Joe Roth, and Bill mechanic running the studio, they were very much about family and very, very loyal to the employees and you know, wanting to be happy. The longer I was there, the more and more newscorp got put into the culture. And the less family aspect that Fox was, and it was something that I really, really missed those last few years at Fox, and probably one of the reasons it also partially drove me away to try and look and find a different change my career at that point in time. But that's where we came up with the culture because it was something that I had experienced early on at Fox, I had missed I had seen how successful it was. And we retained in that early period of Fox, no one left those last five, six years I was at Fox, the turnover was constant. And that was because the culture had changed so much.

Zack Arnold 24:34

One of the things that's really difficult for me to understand, and I'm hoping you can help me break this down, is that you have this company starts out fairly small has now exploded to what it is and it's all about family. But one of the most difficult things for people to figure out which is essentially what I built my entire business model on is how do I survive the insanity of working in this industry? How do I survive the brutally long hours and the 24 seven notes and require If you're going to stay a client of mine, you need to be available at 11pm on a Saturday to do round 37 do these notes on this trailer at featurette. I mean, you know this world and you've lived and breathed it for decades. So how do you balance being a family and looking over everybody's ultimate needs and being able to survive and thrive with joy, frankly, the insanity and the requirements of being successful in Hollywood?

Tom Grane 25:25

Let's see, I think that's exactly why I don't think if we had a different culture, it'd be it would be a completely different situation in surviving, it would not be fun. It's like, going back again, toward my last few years at Fox, it wasn't fun anymore. The culture was no longer a family like culture. It's amazing how the way I describe our culture and Mob Scene is to word family and teamwork. And if you know, we have to have each other's back, and we have to like working with each other a few years ago, if you talk to some of the other employees, I curse, I was drinking a little bit, it was at the Christmas party. And I always give a little toast and speech. And somehow I went off on this thing where I was like, we have a no dicks allowed rule at Mob Scene where it's like, you know, I don't care if people are, you know, super talented, can bring in just a ton of work. If they're jerks, I don't want them in there, because they're gonna ruin the culture. So if it's just not worth it to me to have the whole apple cart upset to put more money in the coffers of the company, and put up with someone who's just a complete a hole.

Zack Arnold 26:33

Yeah, and that's one of the reasons that I gravitated to you guys. And to this day, it's something that I always think about in a maxim that I have, in my mind, is even one of the things that I said outright when I interviewed for Cobra Kai, is I said that I want to work for a team of people where the best idea wins, you and I can get into a very heated debate about it should be this color, or that color, the copy should be this or that or whatever it is. That's all part of the creative process, as long as it's respectful. And at the end of the day, I know that it's not about well, you're the CEO, and it doesn't matter how stupid your idea is, you're going to tell me to do it. It's whose idea wins. That to me is what creates the the feeling of safety, where you can share ideas, even if they're stupid ones, because you know, you're not going to get fired or look down upon, sometimes you're going to be right, you'll be wrong sometimes, too. But that, to me is such an important part of creative culture is just this openness to fight for the best idea, but everybody respects each other. Because it's not that way everywhere.

Tom Grane 27:28

No, but it's also there's a big difference between the long form world that you're now in versus the short form world that you know, we still are mostly and Because ultimately, it's our clients who have the final say on decisions. So my encouragement to editors and writers and producers is put everything you've got into that first cut. Because once it gets off to the client, you have no real control over what is going to come back. In look, we're very fortunate, most of our clients are very smart, very creative people. And the notes that we get back are generally to improve the piece a lot. But occasionally, they'll have a boss's boss, who will want to step in and something like this, and just to put their stamp on a piece. And you know, if you hear it in the voice of the client, where it's like, you know, you can tell they're not necessarily as thrilled about it, but then you try and make it out. And sometimes you can actually make it make a not so great idea, actually and do a really good thing. You know, bad note into a good note.

Zack Arnold 28:30

Yeah, and the funny thing is, in the long form scripted world, it's really not that different. Because as an editor, I get to put forth what I think is the best version of the editors cut, then you have an outside director that comes in, they put their shape on it, then you have the showrunners and the producers, then it goes to the studio, then it goes to the network, and you always get those notes, I call them thumbprint notes, I gotta get my thumbprint on this. So I need to ask for this one thing, so I can nudge nudge my wife and say See that? That was me. Right. But at the end of the day, it's it's very, very similar. But I one of the things that I said about the short form world when people would ask me, Why don't I want to stay in the short form world? And why would I want to go to long form. And to this day, I think my favorite thing on the planet is an editor is to cut version one of the trailer versions two through 59. Those are kind of painful. And those were the ones that ended up making me realize I'm more interested in the long form storytelling world. But version one of a trailer is just like this open buffet to just make whatever you want. But I think one of the traps that creatives and especially editors fall into and you can speak to this more is becoming too married to their early ideas and getting the sense of ownership and feeling disgruntled and oh, we can't do that. That's a dumb note or whatever. And I think that's to me, being able to manage that properly and manage it politically is a big part of being successful specifically in your world.

Tom Grane 29:49

Absolutely. And I find that more with younger people who are just coming in or people who are just getting into the business or that they're just not used to that. It's there. They're not used to Getting the credit, it's not any different than being an actor and being kritis. You know, having your your trailer criticized, you're having your edit criticized or your, your featurette criticized, you have to develop tough skin. Because in just remember that you what you've done is you've put your best foot forward in the beginning. And now you have to continue to put your best foot forward to keep it. Good.

Zack Arnold 30:24

The next thing I want to understand about how you built mobs into what it is today, you can I've been telling people and I could be wrong about this, from what I can tell you guys are essentially on what would be considered the top tier of marketing or trailer agencies like, I don't think the company has changed so much. But I mean it would it be incorrect to say that whatever the the top tier, or maybe the top five companies, you guys are in that group now, correct?

Tom Grane 30:47

I, you know, I would say so I don't really look at it that way. You know, I'm like, as I, as I tell our employees, I go listen, there's too much competition out there in technology, you just don't really, you know, just prior to the time when we started mopsy there weren't a lot of trailer houses and there weren't a lot of behind the scenes houses because the technology was, I mean, that was a point in time where it would cost $300,000 to build a bay, you know, and then suddenly, that cost went down and cut cut in half, which made it more affordable and a few more houses popped up. And then suddenly, when you know when Final Cut came up came along, suddenly you bought you build a bay for 20, grand or under, in boom, off to the races. And suddenly there was there was, you know, we went from four or five big trailer houses to suddenly a plethora of over 50 companies, seemingly almost overnight.

Zack Arnold 31:38

I'm glad you said that. Because that brings me back to my point. Around the time you and Brian decided we're gonna make Mob Scene, everybody else had the same idea. I can get 10 Final Cut bays for 20 grand apiece, and we can do marketing and advertising. But you guys stuck it out. And you've been around for two decades, and you're still at the top. And when I go to your website, and I go under the section that talks about what you do Mob Scene is in a trailer house, you do Creative Advertising, you do content, you do broadcast and streaming, you do original productions, you do social digital, you do brand you do motion graphics, you guys didn't say we're the EP k guys, or we're the network TV spot, guys. So what I'm curious about a might be conscious and it might not be but what is kind of the core underlying question or thought process that you have about the company you built? that's allowed you to innovate so much with all the technology changes, and the content changes, like you've watched the world completely transformed with how it consumes content from the time you open until now more than any 20 year span in history?

Tom Grane 32:40

Well, yeah. When we first started the bright, brighter my original idea with the company was we called it a division list company. We didn't want to be known as a trailer shop, we didn't want to be known as an EP k shop, we wanted to be known as Mob Scene and what Mob Scene brought. And so you know, that's where it's like when you were there, you would kind of trailer one week, and then the following week, you could spend three weeks cutting an HBO first look, we you know, we didn't want ourselves to be pigeonholed. We didn't want our talent to get bored. You know, it's like if you're cutting the same thing over and over and over again, I mean, I see it a lot in Creative Advertising, where those who are just cutting 32nd TV spots over and over and over again, and they're on fibers with the with the clients. Some of those editors are, you know, are an absolutely, stunningly amazing, but I've seen a lot of those people burn out too, because of that routine. And that goes to the where you can be on a fiber with certain clients until not consistently 910 o'clock at night. And it's it's really frustrating that way. So what the funny thing is, is okay, so we we opened the doors in January of 2006. Within that first year of being in business, an interesting thing kind of took foothold in the world, YouTube, which was, you know, the ability to actually stream video over the internet for the first time. And suddenly what that did for us was it made that whole, that's where the word creative content kind of came, that's where it's switched from being known as ebk behind the scenes to creative content, because suddenly that we weren't just limited to creating pieces that would be given to an FX or an HBO firstlook suddenly you can create pieces that were genre pieces that could go on genre websites specifically in and not unlike how you cut TV spots for different demographics shows, you know, commercials that you know you you can see, an ad for the same movie will completely different if you are watching a female show or a young male show or something like this, the spots would look completely different. That's when suddenly creative content suddenly we were going instead of making a featurette for the BK and maybe an HBO first like special. Suddenly, we started creating a lot of pieces of content for movies. Because of what the internet provided. So that's kind of where the company was interesting, I guess so to speak, Lucky timing that we started the company right before YouTube really took hold. And it just kept going with that, you know, in you were earlier asking me about DVD we did. You know, in the beginning, we were doing a lot of DVD extras, which then became blu ray extras. And, you know, it's ironic, but that business hasn't gone away, that we still do a lot of DVD extras. But we also do a lot of extras that now appear on for streaming. So if you go on to Apple TV, in going to the VOD, for movies, you can go to avatar in a lot of our avatar features, or they're attached to the movie, if you buy the movie, in Warner Brothers does the same thing for a lot of their stuff as well. So we're still creating extras, it's just the platform in which they're there you see them is, then it was off unnecessarily, a lot of disk. Now, there still are a lot of people buying discs. You know, Walmart still sells an awful lot of race every year,

Zack Arnold 36:14

which shocked me, because I don't think I bought physical media for I don't even remember the last time I bought anything physical. But I do know that they're still out there. But I think the key here that I see the first of which is very early on deciding this is a division list company, which to me is that that's pretty smart. Because that explains a lot, that if that's a core foundation of who we are as our identity. Now it makes sense. Now I can see how you do so many different things, because you didn't decide, you know what, we were going to be an APK company, but crap, now we got to change gears if we're going to survive, you decided before day one, we are division less. But most importantly, we tell stories. And we create the content as opposed to somebody as the content and we're the guys that master the blu ray or master the DVD or whatever it is, no matter how content changes going forwards. As long as you're the guys telling the stories. We as an audience, and just we as human beings crave stories, we always will you just find different mediums and you adapt to the technology.

Tom Grane 37:12

Yeah. Well, it's funny, because if you look at, you know, as I was talking about the time when we were starting the company that there was suddenly was this, she it wasn't just us building these new companies, because the technology got so so cheap. There's a lot of others. But if you look at the old legacy trailer houses, they were having trouble adapting. Because it had been business as usual for like 30 years. Prior to that, and not much it really changed. You know, the form of the trailer change somewhat with Jeffrey Katzenberg, where if you look at trailers from the 70s and 60s, they were more visceral experiences, they give you a taste of who was in it, what the story you know what genre it was in. But with Katzenberg, he, you know, in the, in the 80s, he changed it into a three act, that trailers should be in three acts kind of mimicking the movie. But for those old like those old legacy trailer houses, they had a tough time adapting. And that's why a company like Mob Scene was very, you know, we saw that this industry is changing very rapidly. And it's only going to continue to change because of technology. So we're going to have to be adaptable. And that goes to the division list thing where it's like again, we didn't want to get ourselves pigeon holed because that could have made a stock like a Cimarron, which really was known as an old trailer house. And he in you know, bless them for they tried and tried but never could figure out another identity and could never move away from that.

Zack Arnold 38:41

Yeah, and multiple of those legacy trailer houses are now just gone from what I understand. They're just they just disappear like the big giant behemoths with whole buildings of hundreds of people just poof, completely disappear,

Tom Grane 38:53

literally on the farm and Cimarron. Yeah, there's Yeah, a lot of them evolve. signings are a lot of them all gone.

Zack Arnold 39:03

My sincerest apologies for the interruption in the middle of this interview. But if you are a content creator or you work in the entertainment industry, not only is the following promo not an interruption, but listening has the potential to change your life. Because collaborating with Evercast is that powerful. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Evercast co founders, Brad Thomas and award winning editor Roger Barton

Roger 39:25

Living this lifestyle of a feature film editor has really had an impact on me. So I was really looking for something to push back against all of these lifestyle infringements that are imposed on us both by schedules and expectations. When you guys demo to Evercast for me that first time my jaw hit the floor, I'm like, Oh my god, this is what I've been waiting for, for a decade.

Zack Arnold 39:48

I also had the same reaction when I first saw Evercast two words came to mind game changer.

Brad 39:53

Our goal, honestly, is to become the zoom for creatives, whatever it is, you're streaming, whether it's editorial, visual effects, Pro Tools for music composition, LIVE SHOT cameras, it's consistent audio and video, lip sync, always stays in sync, whether you're in a live session where you're getting that feedback immediately, or you can't get it immediately. So you record the session and you can share those clips with people on the production team where there's no room for any confusion. It's like this is exactly what the director wants. This is exactly what the producer wants.

Roger 40:21

What matters most to me is it makes the entire process more efficient, which then translates to us as creatives who spend way too much time in front of computers. We get to shut it down and we get to go spend time with their friends and family.

Zack Arnold 40:34

The biggest complaint and I'm sure you guys have heard this many, many times. This looks amazing. I just can't afford it.

Brad 40:39

Tesla had to release the Model S before they released the model three. So by the end of the year, we are going to be releasing a sub $200 version a month of Evercast for the freelancer, indie creatives. Anyone who is a professional video creator outside of Hollywood.

Roger 40:55

I think what we've learned over the last few months is that this technology can translate to better lives for all of us that give us more flexibility and control while still maintaining the creativity, the creative momentum and the quality of work.

Zack Arnold 41:11

I cannot stress this enough Evercast is changing the way that we collaborate. If you value your craft, your well being and spending quality time with the ones you love, Evercast now makes that possible for you and me to listen to the full interview and learn about the amazing potential that Evercast has to change the way that you work and live visit optimizeyourself.me/evercast. Now back to today's interview. And speaking of innovation and having to deal with challenges, the very first message you see on your website is about how you're innovating because of the last year. So I'm curious again, because of all of the the shifting or downsizing or lack of work or everything else? What are some of the things you've done to innovate to survive the last 12 months,

Tom Grane 41:53

I'm actually going to back that up a little bit further. Because I think that what's affected us the last 12 months really kind of started back in 2017 ish. That was a point in time where I think that the industry really, you know, that's when Netflix had a few years of growth, theater started to reach this point where they were becoming massive in terms of the amount of content that they were producing and putting on their platform. And we weren't really doing a fair amount of work with them from the get go. But what we noticed was it for working for Netflix, you've made a jump a couple times about trailer going to version 39, they had so much content, they couldn't afford to go to version 39, they had to get the head to make things faster and quicker in which meant that and actually to be cheaper. And so in back in 2017, we saw that it's like great, we got all of this work with streamers. But the margins aren't the same as working for a big studio. So we have to make adjustments. And then it took us about 18 months, and we kind of made adjustments in terms of, you know, you needed editors that were younger, newer, fresher at a different pay level. And then you still needed guys that were more expensive that were had, you know, years and years of experience and talent behind them. So we had to readjust the face of the company, knowing full well that this change was happening. Now what the past year has done is whereas we thought that there was probably another five years of transition before the world was going to go from, you know, like in the 80s went from the US domestic box office being king of all in the 90s suddenly the global bought bought, you know, the International box office became king, and they were actually in then, you know, the blu rays and DVDs. The same thing we you know, we saw was starting to transition from theatrical to streaming. What we didn't anticipate with the COVID pandemic was they basically took a five year change in put it together overnight. You know, it literally happened overnight, rather than over five years. So I think that what what for us what was was was great was that we recognize this back in 2017. So we were prepared for the switch, which allowed us to kind of enter into this thing and do really well now that be said we all we all had a rough year when we were sat down we all thought okay this will be 30 maybe 45 days we'll be back in the office before Memorial Day. And then it kept going and they kept going in initially clients were like okay, we still need you know, we're still anticipating releasing Wonder Woman in the summer or just you know, a suicide squad or something. So initially work continued and then suddenly it was like is it is it we got this to this period in the summer. Where it's like I we don't know when it's gonna end no one knew when it was gonna end. So the work kind of stopped for a bit You know, thankfully, production started up again in the summer, Netflix, in the other streamers, you know, a year's worth of content to still be launching that they had in there, you know, maybe still wasn't to post all the way. But they still had a lot of things to promote. decisions were made, like what Warner Brothers did, which was, they decided to, you know, take their entire theatrical slate for 2021. And simultaneously release it on HBO, Max and in the theaters. As a film lover, my initial reaction to that was like, oh, wow, you know, I don't want the theatrical business to go away. You know, and the same thing with Disney, putting Milan on, you know, in, in theaters, but mostly, you know, for a premium price on Disney Plus, it's kind of like, gosh, I really don't want the theatrical This is why I came out here it was, but you know, as a child going into that movie theater, when the lights go down and thing of popcorn in there and take you away to a different world.

Was was what? What attracted me here. But I think what it was was that, you know, when, when when Disney did that, and Warner Brothers made those two moves. It signaled exactly what I was pointing out where this was going to happen, the window was going to collapse between theatrical and available in the home. This, this old thing of three months was always going to shrink, you know, again, we thought it would maybe take place over the next five years. Instead, it happened overnight. But it's not a bad thing. Because what's happening is the movie theaters are opening again this week, you know, here in Los Angeles, finally, after a year, and I think people are itching to get back to the movie. So I think what we're going to get is a lot of, you know, options as consumers to sit there and go, how do I want to view a thing? And maybe I wouldn't go and see a no, maybe someone wouldn't go and see a no man's land in the theater, but they would watch it at home. But then again, when the avatar sequels come out, I would, I would venture to guess, if it's available in both platforms, most people will like to go see a movie like that in the theater, as is they will when Black Widow comes out, and movies like that. So I think it's I think it's going to be an exciting period when we come out of this thing. And you know, I think that people are really jazzed to get out of their homes, I think we've consumed a lot in our homes, that's not going to go away. But I think we're gonna want some different options to get out there. stretch our legs. And, you know, I know I can't make as good a popcorn at home as you can get in a theater

Zack Arnold 47:34

It's probably healthier, though. You're probably not putting four and a half cups of salt and butter on it. But yes, I definitely know what you're saying. So one of the things that I'm curious about talking about innovations changing overnight and being forced to a question that I get all the time that I've talked about, maybe not as an informed expert, but as a curious onlooker that dabbles in tests is this idea of remote work, I'm guessing that over the last year, you've had to transition to a completely remote workforce? Yes,

Tom Grane 48:03

absolutely. With with one exception, our finishing department, the the group that does the final color, the mixes, that equipment is just simply too expensive still to be operated on at home. And also, they're dealing with the raw files, which makes it next to impossible to work remotely on. So you know, we very safe with protocols, because we you know, our office footprint is about little under 40,000 square feet. So if you had only eight people going in there, all of which have their own separate rooms or bays, we were able to operate completely safely through the pandemic for our finishing group. Everyone else in the company, though, was worked remotely. So it's, it's a, it's been a really great experience. But I think that there's two things that are missing. Number one, you don't have too much on zoom. You know, something our editors are telling us all the time that they miss the thing that if they're cutting something, they can walk out of their Bay, walk into another Bay with another editor and sit there and say, Hey, can you come over here and take a look at this kind of little stuck here? Do you got any ideas? You can't do that over zoom? You know, it's kind of like and then I and then there's something also about brainstorming that you know, you do it on zoom again, that there's there's, there's a different energy when you're in person. And you're throwing about ideas like that, you know, people are talking about virtual writers rooms. And I'm like, I'm sure that's great to get us through this thing, but I'm sure they would, they would be much more productive and probably more creative if they were in a room together again. So I think that the creative process is actually suffering somewhat because of this because of the remote work working. And that's where I'm really hoping that we come back the other aspect of it is to is I don't know whether we'll be allowed to continue remote work. I think that it was allowed This period because it was a worldwide crisis in an emergency that no one you know, we've had very little time to prepare for. But I can't imagine studios allowing our editors to be working on avatar two and three from their home to the next Jurassic World movie from their home, there's, there's different levels of security. As you know, our building is so secure, and we are constantly going through and dealing with the studio's security agents to ensure that we are just, you know, as locked down as we possibly can be. That's impossible to do it. That's that's possible to do it in like 35 square feet of footage of square footage on it in an office space. But how do you do that? At at different locations around Los Angeles, or apartments or homes, it's next to impossible. And it would also be cost prohibitive. I would imagine that to put all those security things in someone's home like that,

Zack Arnold 51:03

which I think probably answers my next question that I know a lot of other editors and creatives that will be looking to work for a company like Mob Scene, either now we're in the future. I personally believe that the most conducive to both the creative process, but also to some semblance of work life balance is the hybrid model. And as you know, you and I were experimenting with that back in 2006. Because that was basically one of my stipulations, is that I really want to help you guys with whatever the next feature it is. But I was also dealing with other projects and clients. And I said, Do you mind if I just you know, take a drive and work from home and back then the security stakes were much lower, and they were smaller projects. But we were kind of experimenting with that. And I've always believed that. I don't think that just remote works. Even for me, you don't get any more introverted than me. When the pandemic hit. And everybody started saying quarantine I'm like, I call it Monday. Like this is what every day is like, for me, I'm always working from home doing my own thing. But I know that it's best for the creative process to be in the room with people and bounce back and forth ideas. But I also think this antiquated idea of you must be in the office from 9am until 7pm. No matter if you have work to do or not, that just burns people out. So I've always thought the hybrid model is probably the best one to go back to. But from your perspective, as somebody dealing with the biggest movies on the planet, security is a concern. But let's assume for a moment that security wasn't as much of a concern, what do you think is really the best model both for creative process, but also just for health, wellbeing and sanity to make sure you're not burning your talent out?

Tom Grane 52:36

Well, I agree with you, in a perfect world coming out of this pandemic, I would love to see the hybrid model be able to be instituted. You know, there are different levels of surprise, security. You know, everything, everything that comes into the company we're very, very incredibly careful with. But there are some things that can be done under less, you know, protection. And I'm not necessarily talking about like a television show or a feature film, we also do a lot of other different types of projects that are not under nearly as much security, those could be still be done at home. And I think that if we you know, in pending the clients restrictions, or want a level of security that they want, you know, we might be able to work on some things remotely. And I think that it would be very healthy for everyone if they were able to do to do both, not unlike the initial idea with with Mob Scene was one week, you could be cutting a trailer in the following three weeks, you could be cutting in HBO first slot, to just change things up and keep you fresh and keep you on your, you know, engaged. But I think that, you know, being able to offer that would be really nice. I just don't know whether it's going to be our call, I think we're going to have to see what the clients are going to want. And we're going to obviously adhere to what the clients asked for. If some remote working is allowed, we will definitely allow that as an option for people. And if it's not, then we're all going back there. But I also think that it's important that those people who do choose to do some of their work at home, they do come back into the office and spend some time in there because like I said, it's like, you know, you learn things from other people. I mean, you've been around other editors, you've you know, it's good as you are there's still things to learn. You know, as I feel that way too, is just the leader of this company and even even in my creative when I'm when I'm still running projects, it's like and I need sometimes I need some inspiration and I get it from other people.

Zack Arnold 54:46

Yeah, I'm exactly the same way and it's one of the one of the core foundations of anything that I choose to tackle next because as you know, I'm no stranger to pursuing a challenge and, you know, going after things that some might say could be crazy stupid, but One of the things that I do is I surround myself with people that are way better at that thing than I am. And that was one of the cool things about Mob Scene is that I come in surrounded by all this new talent learning all these new things. Same thing happened when I moved to scripted, I worked on Burn Notice. And I was a kid amongst these people that have been doing this for decades. And we're amazing at it's like, oh, my God, I thought I was pretty good at this. And I look at what they're doing. Like, I have so much to learn. I love that. But for some people, that's intimidating. They just kind of want to live in their own bubble and do their own thing. But at the end of the day, like we're talking about being in the room, being with the group with the co workers down the hall, I really do think that that's the best way to do the creative work. But given how difficult it can be to to drive to the middle of Beverly Hills on a you know, Monday morning or whenever, I mean, if you guys had set up shopping and see no, I might still work for you. But the drive to Beverly Hills from the valuables killed me every single day. But anyway, the My point is that there are a lot of people and I'm sure you're seeing this, maybe some as well. But I know a lot of friends, colleagues and people I'm seeing online, they're starting to move away thinking we'll get to work from home now. I'm like, Yeah, not so fast. Guys, I don't think it's gonna work this way forever. And you're still going to need to drive into an office and be part of a team.

Tom Grane 56:13

Yeah, definitely. You know, and look, we you know, my wife and I are talking about two, it's like, we always thought that we would retire in California. And like many people here over the past year, it's like, we're kind of more open to maybe looking in other places, you know, and if I start to step back from this job, and eight, 910 years or whatever, in, I still want to keep my foot in the pool, I could do that from you know, I grew up in Atlanta, I could go back to Atlanta, and I have a daughter at the University of Miami now, we could go to Florida, we could, you know, we don't necessarily have to be here, because we've proven how you can, you know, successfully work remotely. But that's what that's different as a leader and but you know, and I think that I would still have to come back and forth to Los Angeles because you want to you want again, it's so important to be there. That that's the that's the thing that's you know, I missed the most of the Mob Scene is the fact that there's so many people I have not seen in person for a year, it doesn't matter that we've spent time on zooms like this. It's just their, their family.

Zack Arnold 57:20

Yeah, and I can relate to relate to all of that. What I want to transition to next for a little bit, because I know that my audience will just absolutely destroy me if I don't ask these questions, because it's not every day you get the CEO of Mob Scene on to a podcast interview. But if I am one of those creative professionals, whether I'm entry level, Assistant, editor, editor, story, producer, whatever it might be, what's the difference between the people that you say you know, what, we want to meet with them. And I think they can be a part of the team versus now i don't think they're a good fit. Because you must get 1000s and 1000s of people when you open up job postings, whether it's on LinkedIn or whatever site, and there's always criteria that takes people from the no pile to the maybe pile to the let's interview them, because I think they could be a team member. And this is very elusive for people on the outside, when you've been on the inside, it makes a lot more sense. But if I'm standing on the outside, and I'm thinking Mob Scene, working on all the movies, and all the kinds of content that I want to cut, where I want to cut Sunday, but I'm going to be an assistant editor to start, what differentiates me from everybody else, if I want to work for you,

Tom Grane 58:24

boy, that's that undefinable it factor in a weird way. You know, it's something that you just kind of have to know, one of the hazards of one of the things that's troublesome with, you know, posting on LinkedIn, or our job sites now is it goes so wide, that the amount of stuff that comes in I mean, literally to your point, you could get 1000 resumes, how are you going to start looking through 1000 resumes, and a lot of people who will send in a resume from Pennsylvania and have zero experience doing any of this, they just think it'd be cool to come out to Hollywood and work at a company like this. And unfortunately, those you just instantly have to just discard because again, too, it's hard to interview people but now again, maybe it'll change with the zoom world that we're in. But if someone was very serious and really talented, who doesn't live in Los in the greater Los Angeles area, and was serious about moving here, you could actually you know, do interviews and check out personality and get it get an insight into their brain more so than just looking at in a resume got a piece of paper you know, it's hard to define that that that it factor I mean for editors, you know, it's it's generally their real what what is on there and then then you go do you take after the re looking at the reel and going Holy crap, this is incredible editing, then you get into the personality and then you get into the thought process and you get to see how it is how they how they tick and then you also got to sit there and analyze as to okay will this person fit into Like culture, you know, is there just too big of an ego there that I just don't want that person or it's just not worth the you know that they're going to take a ton to manage, they're going to get notes from a client that they're going to go and be pissy about doing. And, and whatnot. For the, the more entry level things is actually where it's kind of more fun. We don't hire a ton of, I would say, Junior editors, that's coming up through our farm system. So what we do is we cut we hire as you know, generally, we like a lot of things, companies doing start, you can start in the vault, or start as a real low assistant editor, get into being a full assistant editor, go into being a junior editor, and work your way up the ladder. And that's how, what we've mainly done is it not everyone's done it. But a lot of people have. And I will say one thing about over the course of this pandemic, we've actually promoted, have a big chunk of our assistant editor pool. And given them chairs, their own chairs, we like to say for editors, their own chair, to become an editor, because they've proven it, you know. And so the one jobs that we have been hiring still, during the pandemic are replacing ease that we've promoted into junior or associate editors. ie if you're going to either come in as an entry level position and grow and show the talent that you've gotten, I think it's super important because some some will come in, and they have they have access to some of the greatest editorial talent and advertising and then behind the scenes that there is, but make the effort again, persistence, talk to those guys. And trust me most editors is like, I'm sure you you know, I know you do this with with, with people that you've brought up over the years, and you even started that, that Mob Scene to some some of the more junior is you, you help them off? You know, you guys, we editors want to help younger kids grow into it. That's what's really pretty, pretty amazing, you know, and I think that what's also going to be really amazing is all the social change that we've also experienced during this pandemic, it's going to this industry has not been very diverse, you know, and it's come under a lot of attacks for that. There's no one necessarily to blame about that. But I think what's going to happen is it's going to be so many open doors for people of talented from all different backgrounds. And what excitement, what was super excites me about that is just getting different points of view created different takes on Creative that we normally would never have had before. You know, even even Unfortunately, there's not a ton of women that have been, you know, in the trailer world editing and stuff like that. And we see more and more of it, and we try to bring them up in our a pool. as well.

Zack Arnold 1:03:07

The trailer world is tough, it's tough for anybody, I can imagine when it's a male dominant world and you're a woman trying to break into it. It's pretty intimidating, because it's intimidating for guys. But I would imagine that going back to what we talked about earlier with company culture, the fact that you're hiring from within and building family from the ground up, that probably says a lot about why you have this cohesive family feel as opposed to let's just get all the all stars, let's hit somebody with all the credits and all the experience and put them in the editor's chair. Like you said, they might be great creatively, but there are so many soft skills that you haven't helped to hone and mentor, that you plug them into that spot and they're just not a good fit for the culture. And I'm guessing you've been through that at least once or twice, just a few times. Because that's a big part of this process that most people miss. And this is something that I frankly, I don't even teach the the hard skills. That's not my thing. But it's funny, I totally forgotten about the fact that I even back at Mob Scene, I was starting to help mentor people and move them up. I don't I don't know how not to mentor. It's just it's who I've always been. And multiple students in my program came from Mob Scene and are now making the transition into the scripted world. One of them being Len who was there for God, what, like a decade or something. He ended up being an assistant editor on Cobra Kai, on our team last year. What I like to focus on are the soft skills. Everybody says, Well, I've cut this many trailers and I think that my editing is good hire me. But as you're alluding to, there are soft skills that people don't know, need to be pointed out on a resume or need to be clear in an interview. So if you were to just look at somebody's resume, like, here are the bullet points, they have the basic entry level experience for me to consider them now because obviously if they're in Pennsylvania with no credits, they're on the no list. But you have somebody that meets the basic minimum criteria for an interview. What are the soft skills, what are the questions that you're really going to ask and the thing Do you want to learn about their abilities beyond working in a timeline that are the most important to you?

Tom Grane 1:05:05

Oh, kind of put me on the spot here, Zack, because because Truthfully, I haven't personally really hired any editors myself. In several years. It's like, as you know, when we were, when Mob Scene started, we were Brian and I were involved with every single hire for many years. But it's gotten to the point now where, you know, when when you got a company that's are hovering around 100 people, it's just, it's just too much. And I rely upon my creative team, to bring in the people and hire them who feel is good, you know, and reflective of the culture and who they actually feel would make a good contribution and good member of the team, don't thinking back, I mean, the soft skills, again, are, you know, you're looking for someone who's open for team to being part of a team understands that concept of teamwork is collaborative. Editors sometimes tend to be like you were alluding to yourself, my world, this is just Monday, it's no different because you're used to being kind of in your in a room by yourself for a majority of the day. That doesn't mean you need to be void of personality, I think that it's super important that you have some sort of a personality that, you know, shows particularly enthusiasm and very much doesn't need to be like a complete extrovert and, you know, or stand up comedian or something like that. But just something so that it's like, you know, that if this person is going to stay with you for a long while, you're going to enjoy their company, because there's going to be moments where you're going to be in the foxhole together. And you're going to want to be sure that that time you're going to spend together, you're going to actually be able to make enjoy as best that you can when the bullets are flying over both of your heads.

Zack Arnold 1:07:00

So beyond that, if we know that they have the skills and the kind of personality to be able to work with others. Are there any other specific skills that somebody needs to have outside of the timeline that make you think, you know, I think that they would be they would be a good fit for us specifically. Because again, this is an area where so few actually focus their attention. It's like, Look at me, look at me, look at me, I'm so good, you should hire me and I teach people, you need to identify what are the challenges and the needs of the company or the person you're working for. And you need to portray I'm the solution to those challenges. And I have those skills. So if I wanted to tell that story on a resume or in an interview that I understand what you need an editor and I can fill that gap. What are the pieces that a lot of people miss,

Tom Grane 1:07:46

we can think about what an editor does. An editor doesn't just cut picture. That's the basic job, right? What else do you do to make a scene work? What else do you do to make a trailer work, there's music and being able to cut music really well. There's sound design, even though there's there's help, we have help on both those things with our music department and in sound mixers. But if you're cutting a trailer, you got to know what it is that you want, where you want to stick it and how it's going to pop in those little details are super important. For the content side of things. It's a different type of storytime. It's more related to like your long forms, or you're actually telling a longer story that's got more of he might have more time to breathe. And but yet, you still got to keep it interesting. And what kind of a storyteller are you? You know, a lot of like, a lot of people sit there and criticize the trailer kind of end of things as being like we live in an ad world. So everything's got to be you know, trailers are to two minutes and 30 seconds long. It's been that way for 30 years. But what we're doing now is we're you know, once we lock a trailer, like we just did in the heights that premiered during the Grammys. And as soon as we finished that trailer and it premiered, the first thing we're doing is we're cutting a 62nd version, a 32nd version, a 22nd version of 10 second version, a five second version of that, because that's the way it's all going out and being consumed into the world right now. So it's it's having those those, it's not just about being able to cut a trailer and it's not just about being able to cut an HBO first like special or a blu ray piece. You've got to be able to do so much more in there to make them sing.

Zack Arnold 1:09:42

And I would guess it like even in back end quote unquote, my day of the trailer world where I remember as an assistant, I was driving three quarter inch outputs from the studios and you know, executives houses and once again, people are like, what's a three quarter inch tape, but back then there were cut downs, but nowadays I'm guessing it's also Do the vertical version for Instagram and this goes in Instagram reels and this is for Tick Tock like, I can't even imagine what your deliverables list looks like now versus 2006. It's kind of

Tom Grane 1:10:11

it's, it's insane. Yeah, where you would deliver, you know, you do the trailer, and you do your thing that, like I said, but it's so you're doing so many different versions. It's not an it's not, it's not unrealistic to sometimes see almost like up to 40 deliverables, on a piece of content now, because of the different formats of which it goes out into the world and is consumed,

Zack Arnold 1:10:32

which I would say goes back to one of the most important if not the most important, soft skill as a creative as adaptability. You can't just be the trailer, oh, I don't do cut downs, or Oh, I don't do long form. It's there's no such thing anymore. You have to be adaptable if you're going to survive. No question. And one thing that I would add, and I'm I would assume that you agree, but I want to add to it as well that I tell people all the time, is that you can be an editor that just takes the notes and does the notes and you're the extension of the keyboard. And that's fine. But I've always believed that the ones that get to the next level, are the ones that know how to take the notes, even that don't work, and deliver above the expectation of either the creative director or the client or the studio, where I find a lot of times the notes in the suggestions, the solutions are wrong. But they've identified the right problem. And that's where I think a lot of creatives get frustrated. That's dumb, well, why would I change that music, but they fail to see the note underneath the note, oh, but we're not feeling the right thing here. And their solution might be totally off. Because you know, they're just a suit. They're just an executive. But they're on to something. And I think the best creatives and the best editors and the best writers, they identify the notes underneath the notes where they can say, we didn't do this note as intended. But here's the solution we came up with that, to me is what really builds trust in long term relationships. Absolutely. So I know that we're running a little bit long, I have one more question that I want to ask that kind of goes to the core in the heart of why I started what I have over the years, which is that everything we've talked about so far is business and you building this company from the ground up over the last 1516 years now. But if anybody were to go on your Facebook page, and by the way, I may not have told you this, but I live vicariously through your Facebook page. There are so many pictures of you traveling and it's always about you and your family. So it seems to me that that's a really important core part of even though you're working these long hours and building and now maintaining this company, you've prioritized that, how important has that been to the success of the company, because some could say, well, you're you're not around all the time, you got to be totally dedicated to the company and everything else is secondary. And I at least get the feeling that part of your success is because you've taken all those trips and use the success to find time with your family.

Tom Grane 1:12:46

Well, look, I think you need balance. I've seen it through a lot of people, particularly when I was in the studio side of things where that you would see people who live in, breathe and sleep their job. And I don't think that that's really necessarily that number one that healthy. And number two, I don't think that they're necessarily the best at their job because they don't have a balance in their life. I think that having some sort of a balance in your life now. For me, it's it's my family. For others that could be anything differently. You'd be just, you know, wanting, you know, being someone who likes to climb mountains, or someone who likes to surf or whatever. But you got to allow that stuff for yourself. Because you know what, that if you just work your game, you're going to get just kind of stuck. Or you're going to get just in the same routine that you're never going to be able to break that chain to do to be able to do different things. But if you if you allow yourself some time to do other things that you like in your life, and you get satisfaction in your life, you're going to be much more productive in your work life. And you're also going to have more energy in your work life. And you probably will have a longer work life because you won't burn out. And I think that that's it. It's like, you know, if I wasn't able to do all this stuff with my, you know, have some time with my family nowadays. Now, of course, the last year has been weird. It's more time than we ever anticipated. And I feel bad for my 16 year old who spent more time with her parents than any 16 year olds. I just think it's really important. Now, I can't say that I've done this my whole life though, either because when I was young and just got out of film school, aside from periods in between jobs early on, when I worked at work, if I took a vacation that was only basically to go home for a long weekend to see my family or just go home for Christmas. I didn't do a lot for myself until I felt I had reached a point where I was like, Okay, I'm kind of comfortable with, you know, where I'm at in in my career. And I feel like I can take it away. You know, I don't know how much that was like. I just worried about not going, you know, at one point. When I was at Fox, I was working on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie, the first one that they did. And I was down in Sydney, Australia, and I had always wanted to go to Australia. And Fox two just opened up a city where they were actually using it to shoot the movie down there. They just opened up a studio down there. And I was talking to people, and it's like, all these people are great. I'm like, why don't you come down here and see if I'm working down here for two years. And I literally toyed with that idea for a little while until I kind of dawned on me that I'm like, you know, as great as that would be, I'd probably lose two years in my career not being in LA. And so I made that decision. I don't know if that's true or not. But that's the decision I made at the time for the for the reason I did it the time. Now, I you know, think that would have been super cool to have done that for two or three years. You know, I had no at that time, I didn't own a house. I didn't I didn't wasn't in a serious relationship or anything like this. And it's like, I could have done it. But I didn't. And, you know, but they also don't live by any regrets. So

Zack Arnold 1:16:10

I think it's important to recognize in hindsight that, would my career have changed significantly? I don't know, I'm guessing it probably wouldn't have because like you keep talking about the combination of your work ethic and your persistence. I think it's kind of one of those, it takes one to know one, you see the persistence and others because you have it. I can't imagine that if you had been in Australia for two years, you would have come to LA and like, Oh, I'm so far behind, I give up like you, you would have figured it out, you'd still essentially be I think where you are now without a whole lot changing. But the the important thing that I really want to take from what you said that I just I want to hammer home is that somebody at your level, and I just I want to get more people at your level, saying the screaming from the rooftops, burning out and working all the time is not conducive to your creativity. There are going to be times when we're all in the foxhole, we're in the trenches, we have deadlines, we have notes, we have a delivery date, we all get it this business is not nine to five, we're not bankers. But at the same time, I think that the culture is going to change both from the top down with people like you that recognize work life balance is important for the sake of business, it's actually good for business, if we don't burn you out into the ground and just replace you one after another after another. But at the same time, I think it's important for people from the ground up to recognize and pursue companies and relationships with people like you. And with Mob Scene realizing we have the same needs in mind where you recognize the need that I have for being able to take a break or go on the mountains or run American Ninja Warrior, whatever craziness might be knowing the big picture, it's best for all of us even a short term. And we might have to move the calendar around a little bit. And I think more people at your your level need to be okay saying that just so we can eradicate this 24, seven workaholic, burn everybody into the ground and just replace them with the next one that's ready to burn themselves out.

Tom Grane 1:17:55

I have a saying that it's I can't even tell you, I must have said it hundreds of times because two employees who have come to me that either something's come up in their life, that you know, maybe there's been a death in their family or something like this. And it's like the end, they come to me almost like feeling guilty asking for time off. And I'm like, stop, stop. We work to live, we don't live to work. No one's going to put on your tombstone. I did such and such a trailer. You know, no one's gonna sit there and talk about you at a memorial that you produced. Such and such a behind the scenes feature at or HBO first look, who's going to talk about your the people who love you, and the people that you love. So that's what's going to we're ultimately going to leave our imprint on this planet when we're gone. I think personally, you and I are very lucky, we chose an incredibly exciting, rewarding, fulfilling career. You know, I think that being able to make a living being creative, is pretty unique, you know, given given what else could be done in the world. And I think that we're very fortunate for that and blessed. But again, what you're going to be remembered for is being a dad and a husband is I hope I that's how I am remembered as well. Now, they may talk about the fact that I created, you know, co founded Mob Scene and ran it for X number of years or whatever. That's great, but that's more of a footnote to what my real impact in the world was,

Zack Arnold 1:19:26

ya know, when that day comes, nobody's going to talk about the guy that ran Mob Scene and generate X amount of revenue. It's here's the guy that ran Mob Scene and created this family of people that are here, right that's that's ultimately what it's all about. And I couldn't cap this any better than we work to live. We don't live to work. I mean, I've heard it before but I haven't heard it in a long time and hearing it from you. Just I mean, I literally I got goosebumps when you said that just you might have been the first one I told that to maybe maybe years ago because I was one of those young up and comers that I was a workaholic and I'm Still a recovering workaholic. And I also call myself a recovering perfectionist, because they both can go in very, very unhealthy directions. And I've, I've seen the dark side of it, and I've been burned out and dealt with really, really dark depression and mental health issues. Because I was so driven towards success and climbing that ladder at the expense of everything else. And ultimately, the wake up call was kids, like, well, this isn't gonna work anymore, is it and I had to realign all of my goals and my lifestyle and behaviors and habits. And I said no to a lot of really good opportunities, because it didn't align with like you said, ultimately, I'm a dad, I have a lot of identities, but that's what I have to focus on first. And I think it's important for people to to have the courage to stand up for themselves and go to somebody like you and not see, well, if it's okay, I have to do this thing or go to this appointment or see this play. It's like, Tom, I just want to let you know, I'm gonna be out Friday, cuz my daughter's doing a recital. You're the kind of guy it's like, dude, go, don't miss the recital. But not everybody in your positions like that yet. So if we could just clone you, and put you in those, because people are just terrified. And that's why they come to you so hesitant. They're so terrified that if I asked for one morning off, I'm going to be in two hours late, because of the spring recital. I don't know if they're gonna want to keep me it's like, it's it's absurd. It just drives me crazy, that mentality that that fear culture, I just, I want to eradicate all of it.

Tom Grane 1:21:19

Yeah, you know, it's funny, I don't know how much we can do that, because I still feel really uncomfortable sometimes walking the halls of the company. And there may be a newer employee there who I don't know that well. And I can, if I walk, pack, pass it out and always say hello, and smile or whatever. But I can tell it that they're soldiers and suddenly go up raised or book to the ground, that they're just intimidated, just because of the title. And I'm like, I am the most approachable, you know, you've known me 1516 years, it's like, I am the most approachable person, you know, on the planet. I love people. And I love talking to them. And it always it always throws me off when I see someone that's actually just intimidated by me, because just what my business cards as

Zack Arnold 1:22:06

well, at this point, you you have been more than gracious enough with your time as somebody that considers himself a time management expert, I have just vastly gone over. But it was for the sake of a really quality engaging and frankly, inspiring conversation even got me at the end, he gave me on goosebumps at the end so that I knew that this was going to be great catching up, I knew that this was going to be a fun interview, but probably not. To my surprise, you vastly exceeded my expectations. And I think this is tremendously valuable for everybody this kind of listen to it. So thanks for having me on

Tom Grane 1:22:37

Zack. And, again, more important to me it was it's great to see you again and actually have a conversation with you.

Zack Arnold 1:22:43

So the final last super quick, easy question somebody is interested in either connecting with you or connecting with mob seeing they want to put themselves out there. And most importantly, they feel they're a good fit for the family and they can provide your company value. What's the best first step for them? How do they find you or find the company?

Tom Grane 1:22:58

Well, it can always go through HR at mobscene.com for any inquiries in terms of start of things, job openings, and also see what there's postings now, we're still coming out of the pandemic, there's, there's not a lot of hiring, still going on, I would feel the second half of this year that that's going to change. You know, I can already feel that the work is starting to ramp back up and it's getting, you know, we're still a ways off from pre COVID levels. But, you know, he, even in my dealings with clients right now, it's like there's a, there seems to have been a switch that is gone, that has been made in the last three months, where people are like, okay, we've done this enough, it feels like with the vaccines and whatnot that, you know, we're going to be out of this fairly soon. So let's go, let's go for it again, let's, let's let's make this happen.

Zack Arnold 1:23:55

Cool. So hr mobscene.com is the place to start. Yeah. And then for anybody else that wants to to go the the smarter, more circuitous route, but the deeper route, they can go to all my other resources about how to network and build relationships and play the long game and, you know, become become friends with the right people and learn how to provide them value and make their lives better.

Tom Grane 1:24:15

It's so important, but also, it's also so important to the point that we were talking about living life. Like, you know, your connections can also be your friends. Like Mike, a lot of our clients are my friends, a lot of my connections over the years, you know, they may have been bosses or whatever, but they've become friends. So, you know, don't be afraid to make to meet new people. And another thing I always say to you starting out and also don't be afraid to walk through a door in this business. That may not be the door you want to walk through because you don't know what doors are behind that door. It's like you I see so many people come out here like I came out here to go into film school. I wanted to be a producer Initially, but I went through the doors that that opened for me. And then I saw another door that was like, oh, super cool. And then it all ultimately led to where I'm sitting today. And it was a matter of, you know, just like I love movies, I love being in this business. And I wanted and I just want to be a part of it. And don't limit yourself.

Zack Arnold 1:25:20

I couldn't have ended it any better way. So on that note, I want to thank you so much for your time. And I look forward to reconnecting again soon. So thanks so much for being here.

Tom Grane 1:25:28

Absolutely. And I look forward to seeing you in person soon.

Zack Arnold 1:25:31

Yeah, Won't that be nice. Before closing up today's show, I would love to ask for just a couple additional minutes of your time and attention to introduce you to one of my new favorite products created by my good friend Kit Perkins, who you may recognize as creator of the Topomat, here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Ergodriven co founder and CEO Kit Perkins, talking about his latest product, New Standard Whole Protein

Kit Perkins 1:25:58

I'm into health and fitness generally, but I want it to be simple and straightforward. About a year, year and a half ago, I started adding collagen into my protein shakes. And man, the benefits were like more dramatic than any supplement I've ever seen. So I thought if I can just get this down to coming out of one jar, and it's ingredients that I know I can trust, and you just put it in water. And you don't have to think about it.

Zack Arnold 1:26:17

When people think of protein powders they think, well, I don't want to get big and bulky. And that's not what this is about. To me this is about repair.

Kit Perkins 1:26:24

So big part of what we're talking about here is you are what you eat. Your body is constantly repairing and rebuilding and the only stuff it can use to repair and rebuild is what you've been eating. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by everyday getting out of bed, it's like you know, two or three creeks and pops in the first couple steps and that I thought you just sort of live with now. But yeah, when starting the collagen daily or near daily, it's just gone. So for us job 1A here was make sure it's high quality, and that's grass fed 100% pasture raised cows. And then the second thing if you're actually going to do it every day, it needs to be simple, it needs to taste good.

Zack Arnold 1:26:57

Well my goal is that for anybody that is a creative professional like myself that's stuck in front of a computer. Number one, they're doing it standing on a Topomat. Number two, they've got a glass of New Standard Protein next to them so they can just fuel their body fuel their brain. So you and I, my friend, one edit station at a time are going to change the world

Kit Perkins 1:27:15

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Zack Arnold 1:27:30

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Thank you for listening to this episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast. to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast. As a final quick reminder if you would like to more actively collaborate with me on future episodes suggest future guests get early access to new programs and more. Visit optimizeyourself.me/insider to learn more about becoming the newest podcast Insider, which is totally completely 100% free. And a special thanks to our sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about how to collaborate remotely without missing a frame and to get your real time demo of Evercast in action visit optimizeyourself.me/evercast. And to learn more about Ergodriven and my favorite product for standing workstations the Topomat, visit optimizeyourself.me/topo, that's t o p o and to learn more about Ergodriven and their brand new product that I'm super excited about New Standard Whole Protein, visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy and sane and be well.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Guest Bio:


Tom Grane

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Thomas C. Grane is a graduate of the USC School for Cinematic Arts with over 25 years of experience in motion picture and entertainment marketing. Grane previously spent 16 years as a Sr. Vice President of Creative Content and Creative Advertising at 20th Century Fox, where he originated the creative content department and worked on over 200 film campaigns for a wide variety of films, including; MOULIN ROUGE, CAST AWAY, ICE AGE, and HOME ALONE.

In 2006, Grane co-founded Mob Scene Creative + Productions. In ten years, the innovative company has grown to become a “go to” agency for all of Hollywood’s top studios and networks and has been an integral part of the marketing campaigns for projects, like; AVATAR, ARGO, THE DEPARTED, THE HURT LOCKER, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, BIRDMAN, THE GREEN BOOK, THE X-MEN Franchise, The PLANET OF THE APES Franchise, The FAST AND FURIOUS Franchise, and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Franchise. The company also produces original programing; such as, The FX MOVIE DOWNLOAD and the talk show for SONS OF ANARCHY called ANARCHY AFTERWORD. Grane recently produced and directed the original National Geographic Channel program, TITANIC: 20 Years Later with James Cameron.

Grane is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Producers Guild of America. In addition to having won numerous Clio awards for his marketing work, Grane was also nominated for a primetime Emmy in 2010.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”