Everything you call the film industry was invented by scared people


(Alex Le May) #1

I want to dispel a myth. Gatekeepers and “industry” insiders aren’t in possession of some secret knowledge that got them behind some exclusive wall. Though they definitely want you to think that. They use terms like “breaking into the business” as if working in film/TV/web media is some sort safe cracking job you’re trying to pull off. “Yeah, I broke into the industry in ‘97”. The majority of execs and producers love keeping the industry small and insular to limit their own competition. I get it, it’s competitive and there is no such thing as job security, but let me be clear, they’re making it up as they go.

There is no industry standard on how things are done in Hollywood (I use Hollywood as a generic term for studios or other forms of content providers). As soon as something becomes big, the window closes and we’re on to the next thing. It changes shape so quickly that these gatekeepers and insiders either change shape with it or they go the way of the ESQUIRE channel. The reality is, they have no idea what is coming next any more than you do. They may be able to take an educated guess, but it’s still a guess.

Because of the volatile nature of the business, buyers, distributors, execs, producers, and anyone else who has decision making power (the type of people that can say yes to your project) tend to walk around a bit terrified or at least with a constant sense of numb fear. They know that their job is always at stake. One wrong move and they go bye-bye in the car.

So, what’s all this mean for you? Well, if you know the person you’re sending your idea to is scared and a bit insecure it becomes a lot easier not to second-guess yourself when reaching out to them or submitting an idea. That’s not to say don’t do your homework and be prepared, but it should remove any pause when you’re thinking” “should I send this thing? Is this ‘right’ for them?” In fact, it should encourage you to send the biggest idea you think fits their mandate. Even better, send that thing that breaks their mold. Tips over their apple cart.

In the end, sending big, confident ideas to fairly twitchy people gives them a sense of calm, a deep breath in what I can assure you from experience is a chaotic ride where one never knows when the shoe is going to drop.