Can we ever have too many friends? Too many collaborators? Too many allies?
I don't know if it is a function of my job, my age, my experience, or social media, but it seems like more and more I know more and more people who really SHOULD know each other. And I don't mean just a casual Joe-this-is-Jerry-sort-of-thing. I mean the thoughtful mindful these two people will do something great sort of thing. I recognize that some people build businesses on this model, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it is not for me. I just want to solve this problems that are in front of us and if we don't get down to it, they will soon start to overwhelm us. One solution is just to reach out and put one and one together into something better.
On the other hand, by monetizing introductions, at least it doesn't overwhelm you and keep you from doing other things you might be doing. Which sometimes is how it feels over here in my world. But then again, how freakin' great does it feel when you put two folks together and something marvelous happens. Hell, it's good when just the swell thing occurs too. I have enjoyed helping people start their careers, one way or the other. I think it is equally pleasing to connect them with the person who might transform them.
I have definitely benefited by others kind introductions.
Janet Grillo, now a director, was the Story Editor at New Line Cinema back in the Nightmare In Elm Street days when I was a script reader. After I suggested that Jean Luc Godard direct Whitley Streiber's "Communion", she suggested I meet the guy who just pitched her a silent B&W version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. That guy was James Schamus and he was my partner in my first company Good Machine. I think we made about 43 films as a result of that meeting. Thank you, Janet.
I was a PA for three years. While I was a PA I was trying to get films produced. I learned a lot in those days, often from talking to the other PAs -- each one of course was in the transition of becoming something else. I kept careful track of how I was treated by all those around me, thinking of the day when I actually would get to choose who I would get to collaborate with. A few days after the first film that James Schamus and I did was in the can and James had jetted off to Park City, a man showed up in my office. His name was Ang Lee. He was sent to me by David Lasserson, a screenwriter who had masqueraded as a Craft Service person on a film or three. He had told Ang that if he ever had money but it didn't seem like enough to get a film made, he should find me, as I could produce the impossible. Thank you, David.
At one time, Good Machine only had two employees, and they both turned out to be pretty darn swell producers: Anthony Bregman and Mary Jane Skalski. Back then they were assistants of course. Mary Jane was working with another producer for awhile years later, Jeff Kusama Hinte. He and I were the key witnesses in our successful anti-trust suit against the MPAA (for the screener ban). Mary Jane spent some of her time telling their development person what a good and thoughtful guy I was. The development woman was Vanessa Hope, although she did not always have that name. Thank you so much, Mary Jane.
Those are all many years behind me now and there have been many great gifts of friendship, collaboration, and conspiracy bestowed on me since by the thoughtful and generous. It is a tremendous web we weave, when first we pattern to believe... that our collective strength will always be far greater than our individual knowledge.
Let's knit this world a little smaller, eh? How great would it be to be responsible for over 100 new relationships this year?
If you are at Sundance now, or any where for that matter, make something happen by getting those together who can make something far greater when they work in unison. We will build it better together.