Wednesday, May 26, 2010

7 Lessons from David Brown - Part 1 of 4

As a long time fan of producer David Brown's films “The Player,” “Jaws” and “A Few Good Men,” I was happy to read his “Lessons From a Life in Showbiz” in Variety magazine. I've had this clipping over my drawing board for 6 years now.
Since he recently died at age 93, I feel its appropriate to pass on these pearls of wisdom. I myself have only been in showbiz 25 years, a small fraction compared to David Brown, yet I agree 100% with all of his lessons.
There are 28 lessons all together, but that's too many to digest in one blog so I've broken them up into 4 parts, thus:

7 Lessons From David Brown, part 1 of 4
1.An exec who is unwilling to put his job on the line for a project he believes in should lose his job.
2.One person's vision, right or wrong, is worth more than a consensus of 12. Trust passion.
3.Relying on other's opinions is a lazy and disastrous practice. Darryl F. Zanuck ordered readers' opinions to be removed from synopses. Barry Diller, while at Paramount, read full material – books, plays or scripts – before deciding to proceed with production.
4.Satisfying work is never a substitute for living or loving, and yet without it life is barren.
5.Applause at the dailies is no guarantee of the success of a film but a better indication than no applause.
6.Where is it written that an over-50 director with many films to his credit is not preferable to an under-30 director with only a festival award in his resume? Same for writers.
7.Casting in payment for sex is a bad idea. It's been tried by some of the greats of the business and found to lead to poor performance on the screen and in bed.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bill,

    Thanks for the first chunks of wisdom. #2 is really good. It reminds me of a story about the production of "The Land Before Time".

    Spielberg and Lucas insisted on the cutting of around 10 minutes of footage from the final film. ANIMATION magazine reported that "One of the principal sections that was cut was the Tyrannosaurus Rex attack sequence. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas apparently felt that it was too frightening and could even cause some psychological damage in very young children." The article went on to state that in all, "Nineteen scenes were cut, including front-on scenes portraying the children in severe jeopardy and distress. In addition, the children's screams were replaced with milder exclamations." Don fought for the footage, but finally had to give in making the final running time only 69 minutes, one of the shorter animated features ever produced.

    Though the studio tried to maintain a pleasant face, the editing session was quite difficult to go through. Over $1 million of footage was left on the floor by the end of the session. This is when a large number of scenes considered "too intense" were trimmed. One person involved stated that Don and Spielberg really wanted to make two different movies.

    excerpt from the online book "The Animated Films of Don Bluth".