10. I have Jim Caveziel for my movie – when can we shoot?
Just because you have a star connected doesn’t mean you have a great movie. Worse yet, just because that star worked in a “Christian” movie, doesn’t help. Trust me.
9. If I could just have Ralph Winter (producer of X-Men) attached to my movie, it would get made.
Acting talent brings money, then director, then writing, then maybe the producer. The bottom line is that
it’s is all about the creative. Stop trying to network with the people onstage at big media conferences and events. Network with your peers. Years ago, speakers like me at conferences weren’t on stage, we were all in the audience. We started talking and networking there. Look around the room. There are people at your level who can help you write, direct, fund, and distribute your movie. They’re in the audience at conferences and event, not on the stage. The people on stage at events like this already have a full slate of projects – that’s why we’re busy.
8. I have the money committed, I just need . . . .
Money is important, but distribution is more important. Every day in Hollywood, well funded projects fail. Also – have the money “committed” is different from having the money in the bank. Make sure the money is really on the table before you go out on the ledge.
7. I have the greatest story ever. . . .
Playability does not mean marketability. There’s always a list of brilliant screenplays floating around Hollywood that for a variety of reasons will never get made. Story is critical, but this business is complex. Learn how it works.
6. I have the greatest idea. . . . .
Ideas are cheap. . . screenplays are hard. Ideas are easy. Making the idea happen is what’s difficult. The guy who invented the wheel wasn’t so smart. The guy that invented the other 3 – now he’s a genius. At any typical Hollywood party, you’ll meet 3 or 4 “idea people.” Run from them. I’m not interested in idea people, I’m interested in “make it happen” people.
5. If you just follow The Passion playbook, you can be successful
The Passion of the Christ is a “one off” – not a business model. Stop talking about it. Enough said.
4. Wholesome movies make more money
You can twist statistics to say anything you want. Studios are in the business to make a profit. If family films were so lucrative, they’d be lining up to make them. Also, understand that statistic wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for animated features from Disney and Pixar. Also, keep in mind that people have many motivations for making movies, and money is just one. Sometimes people make movies to win awards, get them respect, or to build a library. So even if that statistic were true, it’s not always about money.
3. If you would just read my screenplay
I am not your reader. You need to realize that asking me to read your screenplay is an incredible imposition on my (and other producer’s) time. Producer Ralph Winter told me recently that currently, he’s wrapping up Fox’s “Wolverine,” developing a slate of another 3-4 movies, plus being an active partner in our major TV commercial production company. He also happens to be on about 5 organization’s boards, and is a husband, father, and grandfather. Do you really think he’s going to take an hour or two to read your screenplay, and then take another couple hours to analyze it and get back to you with detailed comments? Get a life.
2. God told me to make this movie, you should know this and act on it.
Nope, I don’t need (or want) to know this. First, if God wants you to make the movie, he’ll open the doors, and trying to lay a guilt trip on me or anyone else won’t help. God wants to make good movies, so even if you believe he gave this to you, you still have to write it well, develop it, prep it – and go through all the normal motions like every other good project. I’ve seen no evidence that God honors short cuts.
1. If I could just have an appointment with you…
See #9 and #3. If you saw a typical day in my schedule, you’d pass out. Between arguing with various clients, studios, and networks, dealing with current projects, juggling egos, running my own company, balancing budgets (multiple), and trying to be a family man, I don’t come up for air very often. It’s not arrogance, it’s reality. Chances are, you won’t get an appointment with Steven Spielberg, Ralph Winter, Mel Gibson, Scott Derrickson, Quinton Tarantino, or Tony Scott either. Get over it. Develop your career plan by meeting with the people on your track, with your career velocity, and at your level. You move up by networking – starting with those at your level and moving out from there – not by making huge leaps.