Michael Coulombe: “Life is too short for indifference”

If we understand one another then it means we can all come together and meet at one common base. From there we can grow together. As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michael Coulombe. Coulombe is an […]

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If we understand one another then it means we can all come together and meet at one common base. From there we can grow together.

As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michael Coulombe. Coulombe is an award winning and nominated writer and director from Los Angeles, California. He began his film career as a script supervisor, which he did for 13 years and worked on over 200 films, which helped pave the way for his writing and directing for film. Coulombe’s first play “You Can Call Me Eve,” was produced by Write Act Repertory in Hollywood, CA which premiered in December of 2011 to both critical and audience acclaim. Coulombe ran a networking event for many years to help filmmakers meet and create. He is also a published author with his poetry book “Swimming the Storm” and recently contributed to ‘My Favorite Horror Movie, Volume 3’ available now on Amazon. Coulombe is managed by Matt Chassin of Matt’s Management.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was roughly 13 years ago — when I was 30 years old. I was working a full-time 9 to 5 job. At this point I was unhappy with where my creative life was headed. A friend had asked me to help him write a script, which I had never written before [since at this point, I was trying to be a novelist and a playwright.]

In simplified terms, I studied the role of a script supervisor, which was instrumental in helping me understand script breakdowns. So, learning the craft was a good thing. The best part was that I was able to walk off my job and follow my passion of being a writer and filmmaker.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Early in my career I worked on a short film that was written and directed by Josh Brolin. It was called X. This happened right after he starred in No Country for Old Men. It was an awesome experience for me to work with Josh. I was new to the industry and to be able to work closely with someone of his caliber was so humbling and amazing. I learned a lot from him. At the end of the shoot, he told me I could use him as a reference on my resume, which I did for about two years. {It might be less, I don’t remember.} I do remember that I had so many job interviews after that and every interview I went in for I was asked how it was to work with Josh Brolin. In a small crazy way, I like to attribute my success to Josh Brolin. It got me into doors, and from there I was able to prove myself as a filmmaker. I have not seen Josh since then, so I have never had the opportunity to say thank you. So…. thank you Josh Brolin!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I cannot say that this is a funny mistake per se, but I do think it is an interesting story. One of the things I learned very early on in my career is, you never who you are sitting next to — so be nice to everyone. Of course, why wouldn’t you be, right? Well there was an incident where I was working on a film years ago. [to my knowledge the film was sadly never released]. The mother of the director was visiting on set and she sat next to me at video village. She was rather lovely, and we had a pleasant conversation throughout the day.

Sometime later in the conversation, I asked her what she did, and she replied, ‘I am an editor.” I smiled and said, ‘Really? That’s amazing, I had no idea.’ She looked at me and smiled. ‘Oh honey, I won the Academy Award for Lawrence of Arabia.’ No doubt the next thing we heard was my jaw hitting the floor. I had been sitting next to Anne V. Coates. Needless to say, that was a very humbling experience and taught me to continue to respect anyone I met in my industry.

Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

I have always believed in diversity in my writing. Even as a kid I tended to write about strong women as lead characters. Both my mother and grandmother were very strong women and I think I was impacted by that.

To this day I find it important to write strong, compelling women. As a writer and filmmaker, I find it necessary to be inclusive in all aspects. We do not live in a colorless world — I think art should reflect that! There is a such a huge pool of talent and it comes in all different styles!

In 2011, I wrote a play that was an all Latino cast. The lead was an older Latina character. It was a project that is very indicative of a very underrepresented community of the US Population.

I launched a YouTube channel [Horror House Media] with some friends of mine. We focus on horror — since it is one of my favorite genres — but even in horror there are certain demographics that are still not represented. With Horror House we want to represent diversity both in front and behind the camera. We include women, gay, lesbian, transgendered, and all races/ethnicities.

Recently I partnered with my friends at TanChery Productions [Richardson Chery and Marie Tan] and we are developing a few projects that incorporate the Haitian culture.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

When thinking on this question, two people come to mind: my friend Candice and my nephew Majd.

Candice is an African American actress. I met her through my manager, Matt. We became good friends and attend many red-carpet events together. We even started a vlog about our adventures together called Famous 2Gether. From our excursions — and a few set visits — she was able to meet a few filmmakers who cast her in projects they were shooting. I am grateful that they were able to see her talent, just as I did.

As for my nephew, he enjoyed coming to set. He was fascinated by the experience. One particular TV show I was working on, he came to visit. My nephew is half Caucasian and half Palestinian; he lives in a world where he is Muslim in a Christian family. On this particular TV show, he hung out for the day and was immediately adopted by the crew. He was able to ask questions about camera; even hold the slate up and mark a scene. I was a proud uncle that day. There are even times he would come to sets of films I had written or were directing and was able to be a part of the process. He was even an extra once! I know that it gave him a sense of belonging and let him be a part of something.

Because I strive to include diversity both in front and behind the camera, I feel that that creates an atmosphere of acceptance. When people feel confidant with themselves they excel!

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

  1. If we understand one another then it means we can all come together and meet at one common base. From there we can grow together.
  2. Life is too short for indifference
  3. We have a diverse audience; and that audience is hungry for diverse content.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

  1. Be open to talking. It doesn’t hurt to talk — and by talking you gain knowledge and knowledge is power.
  2. Don’t be afraid to learn. I admit that there are things I am unfamiliar with in regards to other cultures, races, or religions. But I ask questions because I want to learn.
  3. So, ask questions! And be open to answers as well as questions. The exchange of information is fundamental in the learning process.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me, leadership is defined as someone who leads. I think the misconception is that the leader is in charge. But I think it is best described as someone who helps leads others to their best potential.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”

  1. You are never too old or too young to follow your dreams
  2. You would be surprised how much you can learn just by listening
  3. When you have an ego, you stand in your own way.
  4. Even if you work for free, work as if you are getting paid
  5. Don’t talk do; and let the doing talk for you.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Truthfully, I think we are already in the middle of a movement. The only thing I can think to add is to be true to myself; or rather, live my truth, and to continue being a man of my word. I think that is one thing most people lack. When I look back on my life I want to say that I never stopped being true to myself and that I never stopped being the best version of myself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I was talking to a class of film students once a few years ago. Someone asked me to give them advice. Off the top of my head I said, ‘Don’t Talk, Do; and Let the Doing Talk for You.” What I mean by this is, in the time you spend in talking about what you want to do, you can take the first step forward and do it. Others will be more impressed by that action

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

As for Director, I would love to have lunch with Stephen Spielberg. He has become such a household name and has created so many iconic characters and films. As for Actors, I would love to have lunch with Will Smith. I listened to his music growing up, enjoyed his TV show, and have watched his career over the last three decades. The advice and feedback I could receive from these two men, I know, would change my life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?


Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelcoulombe

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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