Courtney Batzofin, Creative Executive
There are creative people all over the world developing and curating art in a variety of interesting ways, and I find every one of them extraordinarily fascinating. Recently I’ve become interested in the people who find and develop media properties.
One of my first impressions of Courtney Batzofin was on Twitter. Her bio read, “My high school superlative was Best Jewish Hair.” Obviously I was intrigued; who is this woman and could her hair possibly be the best Jewish hair in her class? I can now confidently say that Courtney is a fabulous writer, she’s smart, she’s driven and she’s passionate about her work. It’s refreshing to meet someone so dedicated to their craft. She’s definitely going to be doing big things in the near future- not just in television or film, but in all aspects of media.
Tell me about your job, what do you do?
I work at a film and television production company called KatzSmith Productions. The company is young and the principles are amazing (writer Seth Grahame-Smith and director David Katzenberg). My job entails reading a ton, getting to know writers, tracking material, and helping to organize and keep track of where we’re at with our projects. There’s a lot of variation so it’s hard to say what any given day will look like. It’s an incredibly creative place and I feel so lucky to be here every day.
How do you know when you are reading a great script?
I read a ton of scripts- a metric ton! For me, scripts are most special when the writer has a distinctive voice (I know this may seem obvious, but it’s harder to accomplish than you’d think. I also value relative clarity and simplicity in the storytelling – even if the script is set in outer space, who wants what and why? In terms of tone, my favorite scripts are ones that have both funny and sad moments in them. I feel like that’s the hardest tightrope to walk, but when it’s done well it’s amazingly beautiful. Also, I’m a big sap.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
There are two pieces that I try to incorporate daily. The first is be nice to EVERYONE because you never know when it’s going to come back around. Hollywood is a small town and people love to talk. The other one would have to be: “The only way to guarantee failure is to take yourself out of the race.” Most of the people I consider successful reached their goals through persistence above all else.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
What is something you had to learn the hard way?
Check emails until you have them memorized, then check them again. I used to work at a talent agency and was emailing an Academy Award-winning client a script for consideration. I didn’t check the email carefully enough and included information about who had been offered the project previously. Big fail. Check your emails.
How do you define success?
Feeling creatively satisfied and having enough money to buy the fancy bottled water.
Who is someone you admire?
Kelly Oxford for being a spitfire, staying true to herself, and having a killer wardrobe…all while holding down a marriage and raising three kids.
What’s your favorite candy?
I’m more a salty person but Cadbury Crunchie bars remind me of childhood.
Three of your favorite books?
Three of my favorite books: Gah! This question! Um…The Long Goodbye is amazing – I know people think other stuff of his is better but this one always gets me. American Pastoral – it’s funny in a way that pains me. Play It As It Lays always gives me chills and makes me rethink the Los Angeles I think I know. Contemporarily, I think Eugenides is amazing.
Who are some of your influences?
James L. Brooks, Sarah Polley, Jon Stewart, Hillary Clinton, Dana Fox, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, Mel Brooks, Gideon Yago, Gilda Radner, Meryl, always Meryl, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Twombly, Louis C.K., Martha Stewart, Woody Allen, Jonathan Adler, Ruscha, Tracey Cunningham, Lenny Bruce, Tom Waits…Does the internet count?
She’s a self made woman that can turn a piece of tin foil into a centerpiece and she has her own empire. Although the insider trading thing was in poor taste, I admit.
What is one thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I had to dress like a chicken for a job once. Full on chicken suit with rubber feet. It was something.
Do you collect anything?
Not really. Books, maybe, but not first editions or anything. I just have piles and piles of books around because once I finish reading them I have a hard time giving them away – I form strange parasocial relationships with them. My boyfriend has a problem with it too and there’s limited shelf real estate in our apartment. It’s not hoarder level, but it might get there.
Do you remember the first CD you ever purchased?
Dangerous by Michael Jackson. That cover art is still insane.
What is your favorite sense?
How do you think we can make the world a better place?
I don’t know how to answer this without sounding like an out-of-touch idealist. Probably just try and extend some empathy, real empathy until the singularity hits and it’s over.
And as it turns out, Courtney does indeed have fabulous hair.
More about Courtney Batzofin:
Featured photo by: Duane Fernandez