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The Long Haul – Brian Medavoy

The Long Haul

As he notes in his first line, I’ve been trying to get my partner Erwin More to contribute to this blog forever. He’s one of the most important characters in my life and has one of the most unique perspectives on the entertainment business and life of anyone I’ve ever known.

For more than three decades, we’ve worked together. We came up through the mailroom together, we managed some of the biggest names in Hollywood together, we made TV shows and won Emmys together, and we’ve gone through the ups and downs of any relationship. Some of the downs seemed like they would never come back up.

Through my own successes and failures, Erwin has been at my side for all of it. When I left the business for a while, he went on to run the TV department at Paradigm and William Morris.

Because he’s done so much in entertainment, in life, and been so involved in my own life, he’s somebody that I still look to in dark times. We’re in pretty dark ones now, so I went back to pressing him about posting on the blog. I feel it’s valuable to bring more voices and perspectives into your life when things seem grim. Positivity cuts through the noise, and it’s together that we’ll rebuild this world as we progress into a new normal. Check out what Erwin had to say about the challenges the entertainment industry and the world faces today and what we’re doing about it.

Brian has been asking me for weeks to write something for his blog.

At these times of great challenge, it is important to recognize those things each of us should be grateful for, and I have much to be grateful for. Likewise, it is equally important to recognize that each of us is human, that we are going through an incredibly challenging time.

For those of us that live in California, we are suffering from millions of acres of wildfires, we are warned not to go outside because the quality of air is harmful. For many of us, stepping outside is the one little bit of respite we get from the isolation we dedicate ourselves to in the hopes that we might help contain the coronavirus. We are less than sixty days from a Presidential election that is frighteningly close and facing the hard reality that half the country embraces a xenophobe who does not at all represent what we stand for. Many of my friends finding out if they are eligible for citizenship in other countries in preparation for what would happen if Trump were to reign for another four years.

All of it, piled up, is almost too much to bear, so it is an important time to take stock and check in with yourself. In spite of the fact that you may have it better than most, it does not diminish what you may be experiencing, what you may be feeling. I have noticed during my incredibly busy work weeks that the tone of Zoom and telephone conversations have shifted.

Folks are spending a little more time than usual, not just asking how you are but genuinely wanting to know how you are doing. That shift in conversation, that extra sense of caring has uplifted me and reminded me of something that somehow got lost along the way in the entertainment business: a sense of community.

That we are all brothers and sisters in an industry that while is undoubtedly about the bottom line, it is an industry that works to tell diverse stories, with diverse voices and we are all so fortunate to be a part of it.

It reminded me of long ago, before there were streaming services, when we gathered around the water cooler to collectively talk about a great episode of television we all watched the night before. Before there was Fox News or any 24-hour news service, and before there was social media. We recognized the importance of the collective experience.

We recognized the importance of networking.

Networking was 60% fun and 40% work.

It was weekend nights behind the velvet rope and in the back room at The Roxbury on Sunset and dancing the night away at Helena’s. These rooms were an entertainment roster of who’s who. On any night, you were hanging out with movie stars, rock stars, movie execs, and even lowly television execs. It was fun, it was intoxicating and it was a way that we all connected.

As we endure the complexities of working from home, now more than ever, that sense of community needs to be embraced.

Now more than ever, it is important to find new ways to build relationships, to connect with others that are that much more difficult to reach.

It does not mean we have the right to be frivolous about why or who we reach out to, it means each of us has to be mindful and strategic about why and who we are reaching out to. It is also a time that requires greater communication skills, we have all recognized how much more exhausting being on a Zoom conference vs. a live conference can be.

We have recognized that pitching a project to execs is much more challenging. A pitch needs to be about 30% shorter and 70% more engaging. The need to isolate has caused a funnel effect of projects in development all waiting for the greenlight to production. Hopefully, as production starts up again, we will all get it right and things will continue to move forward.