If 90% of your success is going to depend on what projects you choose to devote your time to, you must have a rigorous process to evaluate both the creative and financial merits of every project you allow in your bag. I am not just talking about your subjective view of quality here. I am talking about developing a view of your project within the context of what the market is telling you it actually wants, and what it is willing to pay for. I am telling you it’s not good enough just to be passionate. This business demands a combination of passion and intelligence to succeed.
So my answer to Susan’s question earlier about, “How do I get paid,” in a sentence, is simply this: Develop something that has extraordinary market demand, in which your contribution is essential.
I believe if you open your eyes and ears to the market, there is a systematic way to improve your chances of doing both of these things. If you can learn to listen to the market, you have the chance to choose how you want to play in that market, not have the market choose it for you. You may think you are doing this already. Let me ask you a question: How much are you reading? And where are you getting what you read? Let me paint a picture for you of what I mean by listening to the market, because it is somethingevery one of you can do. Create a current list of 10 current movies you love… Call the producer of each. If you can’t get the producer on the phone, get a creative executive on the phone. If you can’t get the exec on the phone talk to the assistant. Tell them you loved their movie and want to know if you can read the script. Then ask them if there is anything else they’ve read lately that they love. Get that script too. When you call the next person repeat the same thing…
Do this ten times a day for the rest of your life.
Lion’s Gate, incidentally, seems to have fended off Carl Icahn’s invasion once again. A judge allowed them to deleverage Icahn’s shares — but of course he is not giving up, filing two legal suits. I have to wonder what Icahn hopes to gain by controlling the company, since smart managers like Joe Drake would almost assuredly leave and form a competitor immediately. Has he considered the company’s value when you subtract the human capital?