DJ Dodd is a Philadelphia-based producer of over 20 feature films and has also produced and developed television content for many major cable networks including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Travel Channel, Nat Geo, History...
DJ Dodd is a Philadelphia-based producer of over 20 feature films and has also produced and developed television content for many major cable networks including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Travel Channel, Nat Geo, History Channel, and Bloomberg, among others.
In this wide-ranging conversation, we get into DJ's backstory, his mentorship relationship with David Foster, his approach to casting major celebrities, and insights on how he's able to manage such an enormous amount of projects. Tons of insights here, DJ really is a guy who walks the walk as far as Producing and hustling, and I was super inspired speaking with him and think you will be as well. Without further ado, here is DJ Dodd.
Here are some key takeaways from this interview.
- Overshoot with casting. When casting a movie, DJ always aims for the moon and attempts to cast actors way outside of the project's league. Though he doesn't always get them, sometimes he does. For this reason, DJ prefers to avoid casting directors, citing that many of them are too cautious and "realistic." DJ has no problem reaching out to megawatt celebrities himself and, as a result, has had many pleasant surprises leading him to have worked with a number of major actors, including Ethan Hawke, John Cusack, John Malkovich, David Spade, Emile Hirsch, Jessica Lange, Shirley MacLaine, Demi Moore, Bruce Dern, James Earl Jones, Sharon Stone, Jeremy Piven, Courteney Cox, Christina Ricci, Mira Sorvino, Selma Blair, Taye Diggs, and George Lopez to name a few. PS, if you are looking for a casting agent who's not afraid to shoot for the moon with you, reach out to David Guglielmo at Blood Oath - that's David Guglielmo.
- Producers solve problems. A lot of people asks what a Producer does, and in addition to the myriad of responsibilities, they basically oversee the big picture of the project and bring the many pieces together while ensuring everything moves forward on time and on budget. All of that, AND they solve problems. DJ tells many stories about how Producers need to be the ones who solve problems as they arise on set. This ability to think on your feet is critical to producing as problems will inevitably arise on set, and you'll need a sense of cunning ingenuity to solve and push through them. For more on this, check out the life stories of both Jerry Weintraub and Shep Gordon. Both of these guys have wonderful documentaries about them and autobiographies - I recommend reading and watching both as they're masterclasses in producing. I actually had Shep Gordon on this show and highly recommend that episode.
- Don’t wait to be discovered - bang on doors. A lot of would-be producers and filmmakers wait to be discovered - this is waiting in vain. At the beginning of his career, DJ spent all of his free time hustling, from cold emailing producers, packaging hypothetical projects, building his network, and pitching his ass off, all the time. The game of numbers ultimately worked in his favor, and he got his foot in the door, and after fortifying his mettle on movie after movie, he has since Produced over 20 projects all because he never stopped seeking out and actively pushing opportunities forward. Had he waited to be discovered, he'd still be waiting.
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