Four Types of Showbiz Power Players
Who are the movers and shakers of the entertainment industry? You might (or might not) know their names, but you know they make things happen. And, you wonder how they got to be players in the first place, and what exactly they do that is so powerful.
Below are the four types of power players. By the time you hear of them, they have probably become a hybrid of more than one, but for the purposes of your career, you can focus on becoming known as one type and once you get a foothold there, you will naturally grow in other areas.
If you come from money (or come to the industry with money you’ve accumulated somewhere else), this is an easy IN. Everyone needs money to get their projects made. Come to the table with a pile of cash and the industry will be lining up to help you spend it. The trick here is to find the right people with the right projects to spend it on.
Examples: Film Producer/Executive Producer and head of River Road Entertainment Bill Pohlad (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, INTO THE WILD, THE TREE OF LIFE), son of billionaire banker and businessman Carl Pohlad; Film Producer/Executive Producer Eli Samaha (BATTLEFIELD EARTH, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS, VAN WILDER 2), who made his money with a dry cleaning chain and nightclubs in LA before transitioning into film production
Natural job: Producer/Executive producer for film, new media mogul
Takeaway: If you have a pile of cash and want to be in the entertainment industry, find yourself a Connector with proven credibility and have them hook you up with the right collaborators. If you don’t know a Connector, find an Influencer and ask them who you should talk to.
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You know these people in your own life. They are the opposite of a Talker. A Talker always has grand plans. “You know what we should do?” they always say. Their ideas are good. The trouble is, the Talker just has ideas. The Doers says, “You know what we should do?” and the next time you talk to them, they have plan. And, if you don’t get back to them right away, by the time you do, they’ve done it without you, whatever it was.
Examples: Jared Hess, co-writer and director of NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE, based on a short film he made in school; Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams, who shot his own movies starting in early childhood.
Natural job fit: Independent Producer, Director, Writer, any creative position really.
Takeaway: Are you the one who’s always coming up with great ideas and then executing them? Or, making other people’s visions a reality? You are a doer. Keep doing, keep doing. The Connectors, the Influencer, and even the Financiers will be naturally drawn to you. Without you, nothing gets done.
These are people who know how to network, who within five minutes of meeting an interesting person is saying, “You know who you should meet?” Sometimes, Connectors create projects or make deals with the people they assemble. Sometimes Connectors just put people together and let them create projects or deals (or date or play tennis – Connectors connect people for all sorts of reasons) on their own. But, regardless, Connectors are valuable and become more powerful as their network of contacts grows.
Examples: Superagent Ari Gold from “Entourage” and his real-life role model, Ari Emanuel.
Natural job fit: Studio production executives, agents, managers
Takeaway: You know you are a Connector if the dotted line of how people met always goes back to you. If you are going to make being a Connector your focus, the trick is to either keep yourself actively in the mix on whatever project comes of the connection so you can get a cut or (screen?) credit – or at least be able point to the fruits of your connecting as a way of giving yourself credibility as a power player. (“Yeah, I introduced Jen and Justin,” is a great shorthand for “I am at the epicenter of Hollywood).
These people have expertise in an area. They know network television scheduling, film budgeting, marketing, or even non-work-related subjects, such as who the best trainer is, or a wine you just have to try. Knowledge is the source of the Influencer’s power and true Influencers have knowledge across multiple areas. They collect it, much like Connectors collect people. People listen to Influencers. So if you can get on their radar – or get their approval for whatever your objective is (being the go-to Pilates instructor, or getting a particular time slot for your TV show or approval for your project’s budget, etc), you have power by association. The trick is that true Influencers know their stuff. So if your show doesn’t work as a lead in to “Two and a Half Men” or your budget falls short for what the script demands, the Influencer isn’t going to back you.
Examples: Preston Beckman, NBC’s legendary scheduling guru during the “Must See TV” era of dominance; Stephen Spielberg’s longtime film publicist Martin Levy
Natural job fit: Any position where research and results have a place, such as network scheduler, film studio marketing executive, production accountant or financial analyst.
Takeaway: If you are a good student and like to be in the know, this type of power is where you should focus first.
As mentioned in the opening, if you start with your best fit and establish yourself there, you will eventually accumulate more sources of power. When you are the go-to for sought-after expertise as an Influencer, you will naturally accumulate a great network and become a Connector, too. The reverse is of course, also true. If you do well as a “Doer,” you will likely have the opportunity to also become a Financier. And so on. Power grows exponentially as you develop your entertainment career, so if you haven’t already, get in and start financing, doing, connecting, and influencing. You might hit the jackpot and become all four!
Photo by ZagatBuzz.
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