Jordan Horowitz, Julia Hart talk partnership, entertainment success


How does one make it big in La La Land? Married duo Jordan Horowitz (Communication ‘02) and Julia Hart know a thing or two about making waves in Los Angeles, having spent the past decade writing, directing and producing feature films.

Northwestern’s student-run Studio 22 Productions hosted a conversation with Horowitz and Hart Thursday evening, where they shared their views on awards, social media, screenwriting and defining success in Hollywood.

RTVF Prof. Kyle Henry moderated the discussion in Ryan Auditorium.

After the initial writing process, Hart said, each layer of success — studios greenlighting the project, getting good reviews, etc. — is a bonus, but is not the driving point of filmmaking.

“Focus on the part of the process that you can control in order to keep having a career,” Hart said.

While Horowitz’s career in entertainment began after graduation, film is a second career for Hart, who was a teacher for eight years prior. The couple has plenty of credits under their belts. Horowitz was a producer on “La La Land” and “The Kids Are All Right,” and Hart wrote American western “The Keeping Room.”

Together, they own the production company Original Headquarters and wrote “Miss Stevens,” “Fast Color,” “I’m Your Woman,” and most recently, the adaptation of Jerry Spinelli’s “Stargirl.” Some may also remember Horowitz from correcting the “Moonlight” and ”La La Land” Best Picture fumble at the 89th Academy Awards.

Horowitz also emphasized the importance of mindset in career longevity, specifically in the entertainment industry. Relationships and business knowledge are keys to success that can be overlooked when stakes are high starting out, he said.

“It’s a long journey,” Horowitz said. “The way you define success will shift quite a bit over your career.”

Hart said writers should try to hit the “bulls-eye” of being in the zeitgeist while contributing new ideas to the topic.

Both writers agreed new screenwriters should share their work as soon as they think it’s sharable, and they often send early drafts of their work to loved ones and trusted peers. They said mistakes are a part of the writing process.

“Failure is as much a part of your life as an artist as hopefully some successes, and you can also define for yourself how you define those terms,” Hart said.

She said once she and Horowitz figured out the balance and boundaries, it became “so beautiful” to create things together. The couple finds that they’re more respectful and cordial at work, which taught them to practice those qualities in their home, Hart said.

Hart left the audience with a heartfelt note on the power of kindness in a successful Hollywood career.

“It’s not worth burning bridges. It’s not worth stabbing people in the back; every nasty thing you do sticks to you,” Hart said. “I swear to God a huge part of the reason I have the career I do is because of how I treat the people I work with.”

The crowd of undergraduates, many hoping to go into the film industry, took these words to heart.

Communication sophomore and Studio 22 Public Relations Co-Chair Ashley Qiu said she enjoyed hearing about Horowitz’s journey into the industry from NU.

“It’s not very often we get big guests like this,” Communication sophomore Jessie Chen said. A lesson she took from the event, she said, is that “every sort of job that you end up in is another opportunity.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lexipgoldstein

Related Stories:
— David Brown draws lessons from Northwestern in ‘Jury Duty’
— ‘La La Land’ producer discusses challenges making film, career in Hollywood
— NU alum Jordan Horowitz, his wife to showcase film on motherhood, superheroes at Chicago Critics Film Festival

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