Last summer I had a conversation with Matt Damon. I was doing stand-in work for Mr. Damon on the set of the upcoming Scorsese film called The Departed
. We were talking about the road from actor to movie star. He told me about the years of hard work it took to get Good Will Hunting
made; And how he believes that without that “type of project” he may have never have reached the level he was shooting for in his career. He is of course, still shooting.
So what “type of project” was he talking about? Was it the type where he was just miraculously in the right place at the right time? Was it the highest grossing film of the year? What was he talking about? He was talking about the “ type of project” that turns actors into movie stars. He was talking about IT.
The Definition of ITA SELF-CREATED, WILDLY UNIQUE VEHICLE OF EXPOSURE SHOWCASING YOUR MOST MARKETABLE STRENGTHS TO A VERY LARGE AUDIENCE.
Blam! Write that one out and hang it on the wall folks. Because IT can change your life. IT will change the way you approach your business, mentally and physically. The moment that you hang IT on the wall marks the beginning of you taking your career into your own hands.
Some powerful examples of IT
Sylvester Stallone / Rocky
– Sly wrote the first draft in less than a week and began to shop it around with himself attached as the star. He knew that he was perfect for the role. Duh! He created it for himself. At a time when he was so broke that he had to sell his dog, he was being offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for the script. But no one would agree to let him star in the picture. He had the guts and the vision to turn down any offer that did not include him in the lead role. Rocky
went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture and Sylvester Stallone became a household name. He achieved international stardom with one ideal project. Then he bought his dog back.
Edward Burns / The Brothers McMullen
– Initially an English major, Burns decided to study film-making at Hunter College in NYC. He proceeded to write, produce, direct, and star in his own movie about a trio of Irish American brothers. Why not? With a budget under $25,000 the film won the Grand Jury prize at The Sundance Film Festival. Robert Redford, who runs the festival, was so impressed he executive produced Burns’ next two films. The Brothers McMullen
went on to gross 10 million dollars domestically making it the most profitable movie of 1995.
Johnny Knoxville / Jackass
– As a struggling actor and magazine writer he got the idea to shoot himself with various pepper sprays and stun guns and then write an article about the experience. He pitched the idea to a slew of magazines who, not surprisingly, turned him down. Finally Big Brother
magazine hired him and he began doing these and similar stunts while videotaping them. The tapes quickly developed a cult following which resulted in a bidding war between MTV and Comedy Central to give Johnny Knoxville his own TV show. Jackass
became one of the highest rated cable TV shows in history. Johnny found IT. The audience loved IT. Now he’s a movie star.
Billy Bob Thornton / Slingblade
– You probably never heard of him before his Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1997. But he had been plugging away for over ten years prior with plenty of supporting roles in movies, TV, and theatre. During that time he came up with a character that he called Karl. Drawing from his experiences working with mentally ill patients in a rest home, he developed the character into a one-man show. The next step was a short film called Some Folks Call It a Slingblade
, which was shot with the goal of raising money for the full-length feature film. The result was the Oscar winning Slingblade
. A “labor of love” project that catapulted the career of Billy Bob Thornton. In other words, IT.
SELF CREATED – You are in control. Deliver to the audience exactly what it is that you got into this business to deliver in the first place. Since it is up to you, HAVE A BLAST!!
WILDLY UNIQUE – This is the most important quality to include in IT. Any form of entertainment that has a “never been done” quality or even a fresh, new angle to it usually translates into gold! It makes perfect business sense. Your services need to be different/unique/cooler than the masses in order to truly stand out. The more of your personality you can bring to the project, the better. Because there is only one YOU.
YOUR MOST MARKETABLE STRENGTHS – Include as many of your strongest attributes as a performer in the project. Let it serve as a showcase for how much you have to offer. With the right vehicle, you may never have to audition again.
TO A LARGE AUDIENCE – Get it out there! This is where the clever marketing of your project comes in. Find your following. There are so many creative ways to do this. Call Monroe Mann. He will draw you a map! To quote Gladiator
, “Win the crowd! And you will win your freedom!”
The majority of your energy should be going toward your “labor of love”. Should you stop auditioning for other projects? No. (Not yet anywayJ) Perhaps a favorable break can provide one with opportunity. But the safest plan is not to depend on luck. Do not wait for the perfect project to come along. Create that project for yourself. Design it from your heart and cater it to your strengths. Then get it out there!
Isn’t it pretty exciting to know that the ideal star-making vehicle is just right around the corner. All you have to do is go make it happen!