You're only as big as your last hit: The movie industry is not for the faint of heart
For those of you who don't know me, I am quite obsessed with Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures, the first woman to ever head a Hollywood movie studio (when she became president of production at 20th Century Fox), and a highly successful independent film producer (where she was responsible for such hits as Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and more).
I already wrote an entry about Sherry and her thoughts about money. Basically, she is a super conservative investor as her theory is - "I've worked hard for my money. I'm not going to gamble it away."
Sherry was right to be conservative. The movie industry is a tough place to work, and you are only as good as your last hit. You have too many financial flops, and you're out.
Sherry also subscribes to the "money is freedom" theory. "From the time I started making money at Fox -- I was 35 - I always wanted to save to have enough so that I didn't have to worry," Ms. Lansing said. "If you ever need a job, you will always do the safe thing because you will be scared. The only way you can perform in a job is if you don't need it. Then you can make pure decisions that are not based on fear."
James Cameron, the movie director, has some different ideas about money. He subscribes to the theory of "I'll always be able to make money no matter what happens" and is willing to take more gambles. As Vanity Fair said, he really is a man of extremes. What else could you expect from a truck driver / school janitor who decided one day that he wanted to be a film director and then ultimately ends up making movies like Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar?
This particular story illustrates Cameron's attitude toward money.
When Cameron was making Titanic, the budget was initially set at ~$110 M and was funded by 20th Century Fox. The budget proceeded to skyrocket while in production, with ~$3-$4 M being spent every week, and ultimately, the budget ended up at ~$230 M. Paramount Pictures stepped in and offered $65 M in funding, with the stipulation that any profits be split 50/50.
It was an extremely difficult production and at one point, Cameron offered to give up his directing fee and potential profit points, which meant that he would give up any profits he would make if Titanic became a hit. 20th Century Fox never took him up on the offer because they were convinced that Titanic would be a flop (perhaps at best, it would break even) and in doing so, Cameron walked away with upwards of $100 M when Titanic did turn out to be a smash hit.
Now think about this - Cameron had worked on Titanic for three solid years, 7 days a week (he took a day off to get married to his 4th wife, Linda Hamilton). By giving up his directing fee and potential profit points, he basically would have worked for free all those years. Cameron certainly wasn't poor - he had made some money off Terminator 2 and True Lies. But in his mind, he thought that maintaining his integrity and good relationship with 20th Century Fox was much more important than the money he would have made, especially considering how out of control the production budget got.
Cameron is someone who truly loves making movies and I believe that while the buckets of money he made was a generous byproduct of his work, money was never his primary motivator - making a great movie was.
I believe that after Sherry achieved F*** You money as well (she made this after Fatal Attraction became a monster hit), she still kept working because she loved making movies too.
So here's my main takeaway from these two very interesting people:
1) Find an industry to work in that genuinely interests you
2) Make sure you are paid decent money
3) Save and invest as aggressively as you can
4) Think about the life choices you make and how those choices can affect when you become financially independent (when you have enough money that you don't ever have to work again and can pretty much spend your days doing whatever you want)
5) Operate your life without fear
What is this?
An anthropological look at how people think about money. Created and edited by Star Li.