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What’s The First Best Lesson You Learned About The Film Business?

What's The First Best Lesson You Learned About The Film Business?

In Graham Taylor’s rousing cry for more entrepreneurialism in the film biz (aka LAIFF Keynote), he stated: “my 1st important lesson in Hwood: the most dangerous thing in this biz is apathy & cynicism” . That got me wondering. I tweeted: “What’s the best first lesson you learned about the film business?” I got a lot of good responses. These are some of those:

AlexanderBaack Alexander Baack
That it’s called “breaking in” for a reason.

wvfilmmaker Jason Brown
whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you’re right. The people you need to support you can tell and react to that.

pedramfd Pedram F Dahl
It is not your “cool” idea per se that will attract people but the hard work you’re willing to put into it.

dnbrasco David Davoli
Choose your partners wisely.

Sasha Waters Freyer
I saw this post earlier but didn’t have a chance to respond. Around 1994, one Mr. Hope gave me a excellent piece of advice: “sometimes, one of the best things that can happen is for people to say ‘no’ quickly.” I have never forgotten it, and it’s proven to be an enduring truth!

sokap1 David Geertz
“what are you prepared to risk to get the risk capital? First you make a film, then you make a deal”
AND via my boss in 96. “I know how and what you want to make Dave, but who’s going to fund it and allow that visionary path to happen?”

Dealfatigue Peter Kaufman
It’s about equity (script is given)

Phillip Lefesi
know what you’re doing and get it in writing.

yodapoda Iris Lincoln
No one knows anything :)

FilmmakerMag Scott Macaulay
Best lesson? I wrote about this in the mag, and it comes from James S. in 1994: “Get people to say no and then move on.”

mlmower Michelle Mower
There are hundreds of people out there lining up to steal your baby. Don’t let them.

jeffrichards Jeff Richards
Best lesson: few will actually follow through and be genuine, so have lots of irons in the fire and be one of the few.

ScreenSlate Screen Slate
eavesdrop on everything

vivesmariano Mariano Vives
concentrate in the solution not in the problem, that’s already happened and blaming someone is not going to take it away

im2b dl willson
ok last one promise – Figgis again taught me the right way to make actors feel safe so they can fly & no one will get hurt.

im2b dl willson
Tyne D. telling me “time to take filmmaker hat off.” then as I settled into being her son, taking my hand-“focus on me”

gerwinters geraldine Winters
talentless shit with connections get to the top

evermorefilms Andy Wright
“Why should YOUR screenplay be made into a film?”

Kleb28 Mitch Klebanoff
Know your audience.

Baanzi Larry Long
if you want to direct, then direct. Don’t try to work your way up through the ranks. Make it happen! Should have listened

cassianelwes cassian elwes
its about the script

im2b dl willson
as a director/producer Mike Figgis “90% of the director’s battle is won or lost in casting”

im2b dl willson
as an actor.. Julian S. & Bill Paxton told me “learn not to blink”

im2b dl willson
the first line producer on first film “1st job of PA… keep your mouth shut and ears open”

TheLoneOlive Amanda Lin Costa
never expose film to light #thegoodolddays #filmschool #bolexmyfirstlove PS Martha May Marcy Marlene looks so good!

mattob34 Matthew O’Brien
Love your audience, start with the script.

garyploski Gary Ploski
“It’s who you know.”

adamstovall Adam Stovall
Work hard, and know it’s not up to you when you’re rewarded.

David_Fulde David Fulde
If you are ‘on time’ you are late. Show up early

mattob34 Matthew O’Brien
Your movie is only going to be as good as your worst actor.

MalcolmIngram malcolm Ingram
People fail upward.

1982moro Valerio
don’t be late! Never! even when it’s late!

ngerger Nicholas J. Gerger Be able to throw out the schedule and shoot at least a 12 hour day.

convercinema convercinema
What is the first best lesson you learned about the film business?

shericandler Sheri Candler
it is full of a lot of talk and everyone inflates everything!

mattob34 Matthew O’Brien
Always have the next thing ready.

Andy Wright: “Make sure you have your walkie talkie switched on, or else you will be shouted at by the 1st A.D. in front of the entire cast and crew…

Brian Linse: “Good, Fast, Cheap – pick two.”

Scribbler Jones: “Get a shark for an entertainment lawyer.”

Michael Gaston: “Get it in writing.”

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ekim namwen

when referring to hollywood: if you aren’t a trust fund baby, then bend over, grab your ankles, and take the butt pounding with a smile on your face. do this until you get high enough on the totem pole to reverse roles and become the sadistic sociopath giving the butt pounding instead of receiving it.

when referring to indie film: if you aren’t a trust fund baby, then move to new york city, become a hybrid hipster/yuppie, and kiss the asses of the pompous gatekeepers and tastemakers. do this until you are accepted into the indie film circle jerk.


Don’t expect help from anyone who doesn’t read and respond to the script within 5 days of receipt.



That should read “Never waste time on anyone looking for nothing but a great script (nothing more! really! no other requirements!).


Never waste time on anyone who claims to be looking a great script (nothing more! really! no other requirements!).

Ron Merk

After 4 decades in the business, I couldn’t resist making a commment. “Most people in the business have no business being in the business. They have no talent, no ideas, no resources and no clue, but some of them get to be executives in high places. Go figure. But I have met a few great people, let’s see….five of them.”

Jason @ Filmmaking Stuff

“Never Ask Permission.”

William Wright

“Independent film” and “producer” are mutually exclusive. Sooner or later, one will kill off the other. The smart money will favor the latter.

Nobody in the business actually believes “Nobody knows anything” no matter how often it’s repeated, and even when the speaker is half-serious, it’s never meant as an admission of the widespread incompetence found in the movie business.

“It’s all about the script” is really saying “I know a great script when I see one, but you don’t”. The speaker may or may not be right about you, but he’s already proven he himself is wrong, with respect to both his literal claim and his unspoken one.


when someone says “it’s not about the money” run for the hills

From Samuel Fuller, RE Scripts:
“If it doesn’t make your dick hard in the first ten pages, throw it in the fucking garbage.”


“You’ll only fail if you quit.”

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