Hollywood Star: Andy Fickman

by Jacob Copple, photos courtesy Andy Fickman

Spring break only comes once a year, and for many students it is an oasis in the dry spring semester that never seems to end. Some of students' best college memories involve trips to the coast or a warm weather mountain get away. For Andrew Fickman, spring break meant driving out to Los Angeles where once he only dreamed of making a name for himself. Now, after directing his second movie, "Parental Guidance" with Bette Midler and Billy Crystal, some days he has to sit back and pinch himself.

“I’m living out my dream job,” Fickman said from his office at Oops Doughnuts Productions in LA. He considers himself lucky that he gets to do what he does. But, luck cannot be all of it.

Andy Fickman on set with camera

Andy Fickman

Fickman has worked on numerous titles that have had great reviews from critics and audiences alike, such as: "She’s the Man," "The Game Plan," "Race to Witch Mountain," and "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical," a theater play adapted for film that he also produced on stage. A simple glance at his credentials and Internet movie database webpage goes well beyond showing that this West Texas native has made it in Hollywood, Calif.

“I don’t feel like you ever really make it,” Fickman said. “When this season’s over you start another one.”

Fickman said as a director he always looks at what is next, and even if he gets the Academy Award every film industry professional shoots for, it is about sustaining a legacy.

As a more than active student while he was at Texas Tech, it is easy to see why he is always looking for the next accomplishment in his life. As external vice president of the student body during his junior year and president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Fickman said that if you are not from Lubbock it can seem like there is nothing to do, but Texas Tech University is a “Wild West of Opportunities,” with events that really stuck with him, like home football wins, freshman orientation, and fraternity-related events.

With never a dull moment during Fickman’s 1984-1988 career at Texas Tech, Fickman said, some of his greatest influences were Bill Dean, Ed.D., and Jerry Hudson, Ph.D. Fickman said he started storyboarding in an advertising class, and he still uses what he learned today in LA.

“I really felt like there were no limitations,” Fickman said.

That positive mentality is what led Fickman, after graduation, to hop on a Southwest Airlines flight to LA with only what he could carry in a couple of suitcases. That summer his determination allowed him to get his first job in the film industry as a tour guide at Universal Studios.

Although this was definitely not his dream when moving to the City of Angels, it was a first step, and Fickman said he was “excited to have his new journey begin,” even if it meant taking many small baby steps.

The Hollywood job market is a shark tank of applicants, everyone wanting to start somewhere but few people getting the call to work on a feature length movie, he said. Fickman remembers being in line for the same job as graduates from some of the top film schools in the country including USC, NYU, Emerson and UCLA. Assuming that they would have a leg up in getting experience and jobs because of their alma maters, he soon learned that his countless weekends of going to the movies in Lubbock paid off for him. He had seen more movies and understood more about them than some of the top graduates from schools across the country.

Andy Fickman on set with Dwayne Johnson

Andy Fickman on set with Dwayne Johnson

“My confidence skyrocketed,” Fickman said.

As Fickman climbed the seemingly never-ending job ladder in Hollywood, he eventually made it on set of Pal-Mel Productions with Gene Wilder, as vice president of development, working on "Funny about Love" and "Another You." After that he worked with Bette Midler at her company All Girl Productions as vice president of development, working on "Hocus Pocus," "Gypsy," and "Man of the House." In 2005, after getting more movie titles under his belt, he founded Oops Doughnuts Productions where he is at today, directing, producing and writing for film, television, theater and Internet. Fickman's YouTube series "Internet Icon" had more than 10 million views last year. The second season is scheduled to air beginning May 21.

Directing always has been a part of the equation and the end goal in Fickman’s career. He has been writing, producing and directing plays and anything he could for so long, and although he knows each piece of the puzzle plays its part, Fickman said directing is what takes everything together and brings a vision to life.

Fickman acknowledged that he would have never made it to where he is without his Texas Tech education.

With advancing technologies, Fickman said, he foresees new opportunities that will help him get a head start in the film industry. He encourages everyone who wants to get into the industry to start now. Start writing, start directing, and start perfecting your craft, he said. Above all, Fickman said anyone pursuing film should move to LA.

“You can only bloom where you’re planted for so long,” Fickman said.

Jacob Copple is a senior electronic media & communications major from Lubbock.