In the Movies.com interview with David O. Russell (dir. FIGHTER, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, AMERICAN HUSTLE), Russell mentions something very interesting at the end:
Russell: Oh, about that. So check this out. I do The Fighter, and after I doThe Fighter I’ve arrived again in Hollywood, you know. You’re only as good as your last film. So I’m alive again! I’m getting called in everywhere for meetings. I’ve been a working man, I work to make a living; I take writing assignments. So I take a writing assignment to write this Uncharted film, because I have to support my family. I live from picture to picture, regardless of what anyone’s fantasy of Hollywood is.
Movies.com: In Hollywood terms, that’s paycheck to paycheck…
Russell: Yeah, I never found that pipeline, so I’m just picture to picture. So I take the Uncharted assignment, and suddenly I’m like, “Okay, I can do this, but I’d want to do it my way.” But then I’m out doing Q&As for The Fighter and people are coming up to me, shouting, “Nathan Fillion!” Is that the character or the actor? That’s the actor, right?
Paycheck to Paycheck?
Are you freaking kidding me?
Here’s the thing: Russell’s got a string of hits – we can argue that they’re more “critical darlings” than the kinda hits that smash box office records (in fact, the above article argues just that). He isn’t (and doesn’t want to be) a franchise director like Gore Verbinski or Justin Lin (though Lin made his bones as an indie director).
But let’s not kid ourselves. Russell did not make a mere pittance for directing these movies, regardless of how “critical” they were.
The director is repped by the top agents and lawyers in the industry (John Campisi at CAA and at Bruce Ramer at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown, respectively.)
Let’s put that in perspective.
Ever hear of a couple guys like Terence Winter, Rob Reiner, Stephen Spielberg and Clint Eastwood?
Yup, they rep them too.
Agents and lawyers like Campisi and Ramer are top-performers in this business because they do two very specific things well: they connect the dots, and they make their clients money. The kind of money that requires big checks and lots of zeros.
That’s it. Full stop.
Where Is This Train Going?
There are times I think: “What’s the point in writing Fighting Broke? Hasn’t all this been said? Don’t people understand the importance of building credit, of saving money, and not being slaves to the paycheck?” Why do I bother?
Then I read these articles.
I see amazing talent like David O. Russell talk about how they “take on work to support their family,” because they’re essentially living paycheck to paycheck.
And I’m bricking it because we (me, my friends and peers and colleagues in Hollywood) are all on the same runaway train, hurling coals onto the fire, too afraid to pick our heads up and say, “where the hell is this train going?”
That’s the first question we must ask:
“Where is this train going?”
And the second:
“Do I want to be on it?”
If not, what are you doing about it?
Photo Credit: movies.com