Issue: Issue Summer 2002
On Achieving the Big Break
The road to success is fraught with challenges--but only the determined achieve their every dream. This is especially true in the competitive land of behind-the-scenes Hollywood, where people are eagerly vying for a handful of jobs. Does a person looking for their big break need a certain “something” that spells out S-U-C-C-E-S-S in order to stand apart? Or is it simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time? Discover Hollywood interviewed industry veterans to see how they managed to break through.
Cynthia Bergstrom started costume designing right out of college. “But it really took eight years to get established,” she said emphatically. Having done a few made-for-television projects and taught at a film school, when the opportunity to get married and move to Nashville came up, she thought she was more than willing to give up the Hollywood dream.
The pivotal point came when she was asked to interview for the first horror/comedy, “Scream.” “I really had no desire to go back to LA, and I was more than hesitant about getting involved with a slasher film.” Still, hearing that Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell were involved, Bergstrom slowly realized the opportunity was more than just costume designing for a B-rated horror film. “I had planned to go skiing, but the producer kept trying to entice me!”
She decided to go skiing but fate insisted that was a wrong direction. “My trip was horrible! I ended up breaking my knee!” This ended up being a blessing. “After the producer called again, I took him up on his offer to interview, mainly because I didn’t have the medical insurance to pay for the $15,000 doctor bill!” Bergstrom flew in, in a hip-to-ankle cast! and got the job. “I did the movie, which received rave reviews. They say that everything happens fora reason, and I truly believe that,” she enthused.
Bergstrom returned to LA, (sans a ring on her finger unfortunately!) and got the call to work as costume designer for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” which “launched my career even further.” She recently signed on to be the costume designer for CBS’ new spinoff, “C.S.I. Miami.”
Joe Bevacqua’s first job in Hollywood was as a prop truck driver. “I just wanted to do any job that came along, so I could break into the business.” Eventually, Bevacqua was promoted to be an assistant to the art director, where he learned how to decorate a set.
It wasn’t long before Bevacqua was ready for his first “mini big” break. “I believe part of being successful is who you know in the industry. Ironically, unbeknownst to me, a friend who was visiting from NY was meeting with someone who was hiring a set decorator for The Stockard Channing Show‚ My friend referred me and within two hours I was called in to interview!”
“I had no idea what my friend had done. I’ll always be grateful to him, because I ended up getting the job!”
At the time, Bevacqua thought he was well on the way to success. And he was: until the actors’ strike hit. “The show later went on hiatus and never came back!”
“It just goes to show you there are never any guarantees in life!” Bevacqua aknowledged.
Bevacqua worked on “Soap,” “Benson” and “What’s Happening” before he literally stumbled onto his next big break: working as set decorator on the CBS daytime drama, “The Young and The Restless,” where he has been for the past 21 years.
As a Mexico City musician, Walterio Pesqueira studied composition and conducting in Canada and NY. “However, I decided to pursue work back in my native homeland. I applied for anything I could get from arranging music for movies and commercials to writing jingles.” Then Pesqueira got a call from Disney, who was looking for a new music director. “They needed someone that could translate and adapt the Disney shows in Spanish to move to LA. I could help them do dialogue translation, and coordinate music effects. I really wanted to do something different and this sounded really interesting.”