Questions I’m Often Asked…

Schmoes Know2
Some (hopefully) handy answers to frequently asked questions…

Who do you work for?
Right now, you can see me on:
Profiles with Malone and Mantz (youtube.com/PopcornTalkNetwork)
AMC Movie Talk (youtube.com/AMCTheatres)
AMCi Indie Spotlight (youtube.com/AMCIndependent)
AccessHollywood.com (The MovieMantz Showdown, reviews with Scott Mantz)
Schmoes Know Movie Show (youtube.com/SchmoesKnowPodcast)
Fandango (youtube.com/FandangoMovies)

And in Australia on:
Movie Juice (Channel Ten)
Studio 10 (Channel Ten)
Foxtel Movie Show (Foxtel)
Event Cinemas (on the TVs in the lobbies of Event Cinemas across Australia)

And if you’re in New Zealand, you can see me every Tuesday and Friday mornings on Breakfast On One at about 7:50am!

Your job sounds amazing! How did you get it?
It really is the dream gig for a film geek like me! Most of this is in my bio, but I will try and go into more detail here.

After graduating high school I decided not to go to university, and instead moved to Sydney wanting to work in TV, but not knowing where to begin. I signed up for a TV Production course as a way to start learning, and was lucky that through that course, I made a good friend who worked for Channel Seven and suggested me for a job when one became available. I started at Channel Seven in August 2000, as an Autocue (Teleprompter) Operator for the news and Sunrise breakfast show. Over the next 6 years I worked my way through various jobs at Channel Seven, and what I learnt behind-the-scenes became invaluable when I started on camera years later.

In 2006 I applied for, and got, a job as Producer/Editor at Movie Network Channels – a cable network of channels dedicated to showing movies. I wrote, produced and edited many short-form film TV shows, which played in the breaks between movies. After a year on the job, I started pitching ideas for shows I could produce, edit… and also host. As well as hosting, I started covering the red carpet film premieres as Movie Network’s reporter. I also got the job of DVD reviewer on The Morning Show back at Channel Seven, and from there, more opportunities came – reviewing films on radio, online and for the Aussie film magazine, Filmink.

In 2010 I had a rush of inspiration, and decided the time was right to take a leap of faith, quit everything, and move to Hollywood. It had always been my secret dream to work in movies in Hollywood in some form, but I knew I didn’t have the patience or passion to actually make them. While working at Movie Network Channels I saw how fun it looked to cover the press junkets in LA, so I decided that was what I wanted to do full-time. I had only one or two friends in LA, barely any contacts, no guarantee of work and not much money in the bank… but somehow I had this unshakeable feeling that it would all work out ok.

And it was the best thing I did! When I moved here it took a few months of hustling, networking and meeting lots of people before work began to trickle in. And slowly… but surely, I started getting more and more. Now, I’m doing really well, but I’ll never forget all those hard times when I couldn’t afford to eat!

You can hear more about how I and Scott Mantz got to where we are today on this episode of Meet The Movie Press:

And this is a really great video by AMC Movie Talk’s fearless leader John Campea, where he goes into detail about getting your own online blog/YouTube channel/Podcast started. SO many great tips:

That’s all great, but I want to know what I can do to get a job like yours?
There’s no one way to get this type of job, it’s quite unique, and I feel very lucky that I’ve somehow been able to make my hobby a into a sustainable freelance job which pays the bills. Many reporters who cover junkets either have a day job to pay the rent, or are full-time at a station, often covering other news during the week.

But here’s some advice I can give…

Volunteer/intern/do work experience behind the scenes at a TV station: The years I spent behind the scenes taught me so much about the industry, about what is required as a TV host/reporter, plus it gave me great contacts, wonderful friends and lots of great memories. I was lucky to get a paid job straight away, but I always recommend volunteering your help for free to get experience.

Choose a niche, and be an expert in it: There are many “entertainment” hosts/reporters. Too many to compete with. Stand out by choosing a niche within entertainment – TV, film, fashion etc – and be an expert in it. Learn as much as you can about your chosen subject. Knowledge is power. Start a blog, become someone who has a voice/opinions/knowledge about your subject. There may not be the quantity of jobs for your chosen niche as there are for general hosting jobs, but when a job comes up, you’ll be perfect for it and more likely to get it!

Practice: These days, you don’t have to wait for a TV station to give you a shot. Grab a camera, start a youtube account, start a blog. Just START. Practice, watch everything back, ask for feedback, take courses, work as hard as you can to improve. Don’t take it personally. Any criticism I got (and still get) I thought “ok, I can fix that”, instead of getting discouraged.

Multi-skill: It’s not enough to just be good in front of the camera. Teaching yourself (or doing a course to learn) how to edit is invaluable. Not only will you be able to edit your own showreel, edit pieces for YouTube etc, but knowing how to edit a story makes you better in front of the camera, because you will learn what works and doesn’t work, and will start to think in those terms. E.g: when I’m doing a junket with multiple talent, I’m thinking about what type of answers I need to get in order for all the interviews to intercut with one another. The editor will thank you, trust me!
Writing is also an important skill to have. Learn how to write scripts, learn what works on camera, what doesn’t.
Knowing how to research for interviews is mandatory. Don’t rely on others to give you the information or questions. Even if they do, do your own research as well. I always over-prepare for everything. It has saved me on so many occasions.
And being able to produce yourself or other hosts is also very favorable when you’re going for reporter/hosting jobs!

Be easy to work with: This should be self-explanatory, but it’s often not the case. I’m not nearly as talented as many other reporter/hosts/producers out there, but I get (and keep) many jobs because I always try my best, and am always friendly, easy-going, and flexible. I know what it’s like to work behind-the-scenes, how stressful it can be, so I try to make their jobs as easy as possible. I also don’t look at networking as just for work (that’s so obvious and icky), I talk to everyone at each junket/premiere because I just love talking to people. I don’t have an agent, I get all my jobs through word-of-mouth from the friends I have made along the way. And to your fellow hosts/reporters, try not to get competitive or catty. Hollywood can be brutal. Don’t add to it. There’s space for all of us to make it.

How do I get an agent?
I have no idea! I haven’t had one in LA!

I’m Australian too and I want to move to LA. What visa are you on?
I came over to LA on an I-Visa, a Foreign Journalist visa I qualified for thanks to my years of experience in the field in Australia. After a year, I switched to the O1, the Alien with Extraordinary Ability visa (yeah!) which again, I qualified for because of my body of work in Australia and the US. Now, I have the Green Card! Luckily I had enough evidence from all the work I’ve done since I began in this industry to be able to self-petition for one.

Who have you interviewed?
Easier question would be, who HAVEN’T I interviewed! After years on the junket scene I have been so lucky to interview nearly every filmmaker and movie star I’ve wanted to. But Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson are still on my wish list.

Who has been your favorite person to interview?
On any junket I love talking to the director, because they have the most passion, the film is their baby and they enjoy chatting about it. But because it was so insane I couldn’t believe it – my favorite interview I have ever done was with Oprah. Me interviewing Oprah? Crazy! And she was an absolute delight. Plus her hugs are warm and squishy.

What’s with the hugs?
This started out as a silly way for me to push myself out of my comfort zone. You may not believe it, but I’m quite shy in real life. The idea of hugging a famous person seemed like something I would never be able to do or ask for. So I just started doing it to challenge myself. And I love getting hugs. Slowly, my nerves subsided and doing this actually gave me more confidence. Now I keep it up because I enjoy seeing how many stars say yes! (Only one has said no – Jared Leto – but he suggested an awkward stare instead, which was hilarious, and then hugged me off-camera)

…I’m sure most of these stars think I’m strange.

Wait, you said you’re shy? I’m shy too! How did you overcome it?
I really am quite shy. When I’m not working I prefer to be alone with nobody paying me any attention. When I was 15 years old I never would’ve believed I could be on camera. And that non-belief actually spurred me on to prove myself (and everyone else) wrong. I’m definitely a product of the saying “fake it until you make it”. I faked confidence on camera, did voice lessons, worked on my hosting skills, almost looking at ‘on camera Alicia Malone’ as a different person to myself. When I stepped inside my ‘Alicia Malone’ suit, I could do all the things I dreamt of doing. Nowadays on camera Alicia and off camera Alicia are one and the same, but a few years ago they were very different people. It is strange because I have no problem being on camera, talking in front of a huge crowd, or even doing karaoke… but I get nervous in small groups and one-on-one with people I don’t know well!

So what’s with your love for Jake Gyllenhaal?
That started out as a bit of a joke, about how dreamy I found him on screen. But my crush really kicked in when I interviewed him for Love And Other Drugs in Sydney. He came up to me, I thought I would be sassy and say, “Hi future husband!”… he looked at my hands, said “I don’t believe you’re single, show me your left hand”… and then looked up at me. His blue eyes sparkled and somewhere, angels sung… and I said “Which one is my left hand?” Since then, it’s been an on-going joke between he and I. Well really it’s a one-sided joke from me. Every time I interview him (four times and counting) I call him my future husband. He has said to me in the past that “persistence is key!”… so maybe one day he’ll get it. Or will get a restraining order against me. One of the two.

How many tattoos do you have? And what does it say on your arm?
I have eight, as of now, with more to come. The most visible one is probably on my inner right arm. It says “Discover”, and is part of a set, along with “Dream” on my wrist and “Explore” on my foot. Those three words are from my favorite quote, by Mark Twain. One I try to live by:
Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Can you help me get a question on AMC Movie Talk?
I cannot, sorry! Keep trying the usual way!

Can you help me get an internship with the Schmoes?
Sorry, I’m not the right person to ask!

How do I contact you?
I’m very friendly to anyone who is nice to me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. And I try to answer emails when I can!