I went to NYU Film Undergrad with the idea I was going to be a director. I got a scholarship, and the school encouraged me, but I felt that my destiny as a director was to be but a hack. I could get things going, but I was just regurgitating others' ideas (ah, if only that was enough to stop most...). Sure, imitation is a path to learning, but I was impatient too. If I couldn't be brilliant, I at least wanted to be around brilliance. I pivoted.
Although I loved editing, in the years BA (Before AVID), the road to cutting was organizing trims and I wanted a hell of a lot more action than that. Three years of being a PA though didn't get me any closer to the art department -- which was plan #3.
I had strong opinions though, and was no more in agreement with the way my jobs were organized than I was about the scripts. I could see people needed some help when it came to producing. Unfortunately, no one seemed interested in promoting me from the bottom right to the top. Nonetheless, Life Plan #4 (which really was FILM Life Plan #4 -- as politician, community organizer, labor leader, rebel rouser & agitator had already been contemplated) was born.
So I formed my first company. Here's the letterhead, recently fished out of the recycling. I already had the idea of a no-budget film fund. I had the list of my initial directors -- which included Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, Ang Lee, and Kelly Reichardt. I hadn't yet met James Schamus. I was using "Bella Machina" as a mailing label to the various nut job newsletters I subscribed to, but there wasn't yet a Good Machine.
Luckily I never incorporated "Aberrant Films" and wasted some cash on taxes. But that stationary gave me confidence to say I was a producer. And it was cheaper than business cards. I only had to sneak on over to the photocopier in a pal's office, and viola! I was legit.