- Dominic Tatrai
Katch University was very privileged to have the opportunity to host producer Andy Horwitz for a talk about working in Hollywood. The Executive Vice President of Atlas Entertainment, Horwitz helped produce movies such as American Hustle (2013), Suicide Squad (2016), Triple Frontier (2019), and many more. He talked about his experience in film school, producing big budget movies, and working with streamers. Throughout all of this, he gave some thoughtful insight to those wanting to make it in Hollywood.
Growing up, Horwitz always knew he wanted to work in entertainment. Coming from a film and television family, he was able to see what a producer does through his father, who was one of the original producers for Unsolved Mysteries (1987-2010). Horwitz eventually went to the now defunct Brook Institute of Photography, where he would go on to produce a plethora of student films, one of which would make its way to Sundance. After film school, he spent a month and a half sending out resumes, but was unable to get even a single call back. Eventually he contacted a friend from high school who was working on the film Get Smart (2008), who was able to get Horwitz an interview as the second assistant to Charles Roven, president and co-founder of Atlas Entertainment. During this interview, Horwitz states “I’m not telling anyone here that they should lie in their interviews, but I just lied… I just said yes to everything.” He would later go on to interview with Charles Roven, who warned him that the job would overtake his life. Horwitz took the job anyway, and would go on to become Roven’s first (and only) assistant. Horwitz would eventually work his way up the company ladder to executive vice president, all while doing “every job you could do at a production company.”
He recently worked on the movie Triple Frontier for Netflix. While there, he found the experience much different, as marketing typically starts eight weeks beforehand on Netflix, rather than a year ahead for studio movies. He also said that, with movies on streamers, “you’re the flavor of the week for two weeks, and then you’re done. And they’ve moved on to five other things...” However, he also stated that if they made Triple Frontier in the theatrical world, they would not have gotten the resources or creative freedom to make it what it was.
When talking about the producer's role, Horwitz states that you take on multiple roles. “You’re a therapist to the crew and the cast, you’re the boss, you’re the problem solver, you’re the person everyone looks to when they're not getting what they want…” Horwitz also emphasizes risk-taking. “You have to take a risk in this business to succeed… investing in movies, as a financier, you might as well go to Vegas, your chances are better in Vegas than they are in Hollywood.” Horwitz also places importance on marketing, which he plays a big role in. Marketing helps to get people into seats, so it is important that it is done right, with the right audience properly marketed to. In fact, he places part of the success of Suicide Squad to its marketing. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of having a network. “It’s literally your currency when you come out of film school, if you know nobody and you have no network, you are considered poor in town… you have no resources.” He says he never once hired a person without knowing them or getting a recommendation from someone he trusts. “Hollywood is all about trust and confidentiality… your network is literally everything, it’s gonna get you your first job, it’s gonna be what gets you your second job, it’s gonna be what gets you every job… Hollywood is a small town, everyone knows each other, everyone talks. If you do a great job, word spreads, if you do a really poor job, and people have issues with your character or who you are, word spreads”
If you want more Andy Horwitz, he is currently working on the podcast Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen, which chronicles one of the biggest scams in Hollywood. It is available to stream on Spotify, iTunes, and anywhere else you listen to your podcasts.