Friday, April 20, 2012

Sometimes It's BusinessShow

The one thing they never teach you when you're a kid is that money rules the world. And if you don't believe it, you're a fool. The truth is.. it does. Whether we like it or not, the almighty dollar is always the deciding factor.


Now, I'm not a hippie by any means, but as I get older, I start to identify more with our spacey, furry brethren. They live off the land. They don't pay taxes. They sleep where they want.. but most of all.. they're happy.


That's what life is all about for me. Anyone closest to me will vouch for that. Since I was a kid, I've always hated money. It's the root of all evil to me. Always will be. Ask my Mother, even as a kid, I didn't like to go into the gas station to pay for gas. Even to this day, when I grab lunch with someone, if they're paying or I'm paying.. I usually leave when the bill comes. If I'm paying, I'll just throw my card down and ask them "Will you give this to them when they come back by?"

It's not something I make a conscious effort to do. It's just something that happens.. because I hate money. So when I moved to LA, I had a rude awakening. Money runs everything. You have to make it. You have to give it to people. You have to make it FOR other people. One of the biggest catch 22's in Hollywood is you need to make money before someone will give you money to make a movie. The indie route is the way to get around that.. but at some point in your career.. you're gonna have to play by the rules.

That's where the managers, the agents, the lawyers come in. Back before shooting ROADSIDE, I got my first manager at a company called MOSAIC. They're the mad geniuses behind such comedy gold as STEP BROTHERS, BAD TEACHER and ELF.



The other day I was told by someone closest to me, "You're super lucky" -- and not that I landed such a great management company (which I am, lucky in that regard) -- but that I landed such a good manager. That part is also true. My manager, Brent Lilley, was introduced to me on a referral from a client of his (and a good friend of mine). We hit it off immediately and in less than a week, we were in bed together.

At first, I had no idea what to do. I've heard so many horror stories about managers and agents that I was a little cautious. I was scared to talk to him. Scared to tell him anything. I didn't want to bother him.. especially since a lot of his involvement would be monetary in my life. Afterall, he would be getting 10% of whatever I made.

But the great thing about managers is that they're not just money suckers (like agents), they're pals.. or at least, they're supposed to be. I knew a ton of filmmakers that had managers that were pure assholes. They acted like agents. Could barely get 'em on the phone, and when they did.. it was cut and dry. Brent was different. He is different. He cares. Every time we get on the phone, my entire day is better. He goes out of his way to ask me how I'M doing.. how I'm feeling. Where my mental state is.. makes sure I'm okay.. which is the greatest thing about hm. HE CARES.

Brent and I on the carpet at the MADISON COUNTY premiere.

Which is why I was told I was lucky.. I completely agree. But recently, Brent went above and beyond.. he introduced me to my lawyer, Joe. Joe and I jumped into bed rather quickly as well. I needed a lawyer to look over some heavy paperwork. It was a tough job and Brent immediately took on the task of finding the right one. Within days he hit the nail on the head with Joe. Joe started gnawing away at the paperwork.. and Joe's not the kind of guy that has a lot of free time.

By the time I had actually met Joe face-to-face (a lot of our first interactions were through e-mail and phone calls), I felt like I had known the guy my whole life. Family.

That's what makes this town bearable. Brent always says things to me like "I'll take care of it" and "I'm on it". At the end of the day, the guy has always got my back. And the great thing about him? He's got other clients too.. so I know he's giving them as much as he's giving me (or at least I hope he is). He's not spread thin at all.. there's just a lot of genuine integrity ingrained in his DNA. A lot of good.

It's an amazing thing to me.. One of the things I feared most; Money, politics, managers, agents, lawyers, contracts, etc.. I lucked out on (and I haven't exactly always gotten lucky with things my entire life) and fell into the hands of a couple of really great guys. Guys that have my backs (and I've completely got theirs). In fact, I wish I were able to do more for them. But thus is the weird relationship between manager and client. It's like they're there for you.. but I want to be there for them just as much. It's just harder on my end. It's like they're a really hot girl that's sleeping with a lot of guys. But when she's with you.. she makes you feel like you're the only guy in the World. It's great.. but you know you have to be really special to make it last.

That's where the money comes in. But with a project like me (and don't kid yourself, I'm a work in progress), you have to be patient.. because I'm not made of money yet. They're putting their time and effort (and sometimes money) into me in hopes that I'll pay off.. and God, do I hope I do that for them.

I always say things like "I want to make US a lot of money" and I mean it. I hope I make them super rich.. which would have to mean that I'm Oprah rich.. but I don't care about that. I literally just wanna be able to sustain my lifestyle of movies, diet coke and diner food. I'm not Diddy. I just want to make movies. If producers came to me and said "we'll pay all your bills, feed you and put a roof over your head as long as you make movies for us", I'd be a lifetime contract.

Lately, the contracts, money, percentages and all that crap have really been bringing me down. Taking me away from the part of filmmaking that I really love.. the creation. The actual process of making movies. But before movies can be made, contracts have to be drawn up. That's just how it is. It keeps everyone from being ugly (or it tries to). If movies could be made on good faith, we'd be in a completely different place (one I wish I could be in).

But at the end of the day, no matter how much BUSINESS gets in the way of my SHOW.. I know that I'm in good hands. Hands that care. That keep the evil away.. or at least keep it at a safe distance. And for that, I'm thankful.

Til next time,

EE

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