You could say Corky’s ingress into entertainment law was not put on a storyboard for his own life’s movie as it became the apotheosis of how life has a mysterious way of changing the plot.
From 1974 to 1980, Corky served as a felony criminal prosecutor in Crook County. His lofty position lead him to treading in stormy waters such as being shot at twice in a courtroom and during his 6th year, a bomb planted in his car. With over 200 cases litigated, 50 jury trials, and tough memories behind him, Corky’s instinct for using his intellect and courage ran high in numerous ways besides the forcement of walking back into a courtroom.
In 1984, in his phase of private practice, an unnamed individual approached Corky in his office inquiring if he would have any interest investing into a theatre project. Kessler flipped the notion onto its head by attentively listening to examine what they wanted to achieve and cultivate a path that lead him to become a trailblazer in any chair he could sit in. From that opportunity of destiny alone, Corky became the executive producer for Driving Miss Daisy, Shirley Valentine, and Frankie and Johnny. But his hustle didn’t just stop there. Corky also was keen to break ground in the LGBTQ+ community at a time where it was unheard of with The Sum of Us starring Russell Crowe. Kessler was so ambitious to generate dialogue about positively gay content that felt like to him took years to convince. He said watching productions as an outsider that surrounded this topic touched his heart so deeply, that there was no way Corky couldn’t at least be a part of advocating in some form.
While continuing to build his sparking resume, Corky has learned some valuable insight for young entrepreneurs that want to get their work to major CEOs and companies. The scoop is to master and invest into the art of networking and patience. Kessler stated that festivals like Sundance do not require a badge to get in front of industry professionals in a wide spectrum. Corky believes the festival is a great place to start as it gives you some of the world but not all of it. However, the best business he claims is in Toronto so while you might start to save for a flight, get investigating on who is staying where and companies that are setting up a base for the route of TIFF. Even if a festival needs accreditation, sales agents and ambassadors typically hangout outside of the grounds where everything is happening. Corky also wants to give a reminder that it’s not always about if the screenplay is well drafted, it’s about the story and honesty. If the right concept is there, production teams always have someone able to re-write it out or tweak the structure before it gets passed on to other officials.
At the same time of assuring your face acquires familiarity while meeting new people also means you are able to learn how to have a quick judge of character and know who to trust. Corky ensures that the business is very untrustworthy but there are a few people who we were able to meet that Corky knows no matter what there will always be a heavy layer of faith.
Ash Greyson, who is multimedia maven, has been a part of 155 movies in some capacity since 2012. He strives to make marketing a bigger part of projects in the infancy stages instead of the 11th hour. Ash explains that sometimes film productions seek actors or actresses because it’s what they believe is best for them rather than truly what the audience wants to see. He stated Tom Hanks was awarded praise as Mr. Rogers over The Circle because movie enthusiasts did not want to mix evil with their popcorn with Mr. Hanks overall personal characteristic. But this is where the eyes of a marketer come into place due to the nature of wanting to open all doors for a successful project. Corky loves how Ash is so diverse even when it comes to small films, because to Ash a challenge is what he thrives on noting his past of unpredictable endeavours with Netflix.
Speaking of diversity and another one of Corky’s trustees is Alexandra Hoesdorff who is the icing on the cake when it comes to raising the ceiling so powerfully for other young women aspiring to be in the industry. She has produced films in LA for over 20 years, such as Flatland and executed Luxemborg’s first sitcom. This Girl Boss spirit is something Corky strives to partner with especially for events like Rubenstein Business Law Filmmaker panel that took place earlier this month featuring panelists surrounding the fighting spirit of equality.
Even though you may end up being voted as one of the best entertainment lawyers in the United States just like Mr. Kessler, your largest assignment as he states should be helping others write their own path to whatever a big screen may mean to them.
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Our editor/founder @sadiekromm had a great meeting/interview for with Hal “Corky” Kessler who was not only voted the best entertainment lawyer in the United States but has produced some incredible films, Ash Greyson who is the jack of all trades the film industry could ask for from @ribbowmediagroup and Alexandra Hoesdorff from Deal Productions Luxembourg. Can’t wait for Sunday’s Rubenstein Business Law Filmmaker panel. What a Friday! 😅Thanks @visionarymindscny
Header Photo: Corky at the New York Film Academy with producing students