Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Big "IF"

Patrick Goldstein has an extremely interesting interview with Samuel L. Jackson in today's Los Angeles Times.

The outspoken actor has been through quite a bit in his three decades in the business and this interview contains many words of wisdom for the film industry. Let's all hope they don't turn a deaf ear. In a time when we argue over the possesory credit, perks and royalties and day and date distribution models we forget that Hollywood is a unique animal that doesn't follow the normal rules of the business jungle.

More's the pity.

Because if Hollywood was more like a business:

- people would show up to work on time and be prepared.
- people would be expected to eat breakfast at home instead of having the company provide it.
- instead of royalties we would have stock options and performance bonuses.
- we wouldn't change the schedule in the middle of shooting because the director "got a bright idea" and deviated from the script.
- the investors of the movie would be paid back first.
- there would be performance reviews every six months and you could lose your job if you don't keep pace with your peers.
- The art of show business would be done in the design phase (development) and the production phase of the job would be what it really is - manufacturing.
- accounting practices would be simplified so that one could see where the money was really going.

Aw, well...


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Would the originators of a film (writers) be exalted like the founders of the corporation?

Bill Cunningham said...

No, but they would be praised like the designer for an automobile...

marc bernardin said...

What's more, if Hollywood were more like a business...a movie that $50 million to make which grosses $51 million would be considered a resounding success, and those filmmakers responsible would be allowed to continue making as many movies as they like, provided they maintain that same Return on Investment.

Because this is one of the few business where success can actually equal failure.

Shawna said...

I think this is why studios are often painted as the bad guy in news stories about cutting budgets and trying to get more control over the creative process. Most studios are owned by a publicly traded company which does owe stockholders results and increases in performance.

Your analogy to designing a car is pretty interesting, and one I had not considered. Unfortunately, the creatives are not prone to see things this way -- this is ART after all, you can't constrain art with things like project plans, deliverables, milestones and budget forecasts.

Too bad, actually. The business would probably have more hits than misses if they did change their business model.

Bill Cunningham said...

Shawna -- there's a reason it's called the SHELBY Cobra.

Carroll Shelby made his mark in the design of this particular automobile. He didn't get a royalty on every Cobra sold, but he got stock oprtions, salary increases and performance bonuses based on his work. "Millions of dollars later..."

Regarding art on a schedule - it's done all the time as there are deadlines for all aspects of a screenplay -- and it's all spelled out in the contract. Treatment, first draft, etc... all by this date and that date.