Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering tours, lectures and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.
I never knew what I’d answer Barbara Walters. Now I know. I’d want Peter Guber, Bob Balaban and Brett Ratner at my fantasy dinner party! Witty, wise, charming and creative, these three successful Hollywood movers and shakers beguiled an adoring audience at the Winspear on Thursday night as the Brinker series presented “The Creative Process,” a panel discussion moderated by CNN’s Campbell Brown. These raconteurs seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the audience, as they shared personal anecdotes, reminiscences, cautionary tales and advice about filmmaking. It was as if we were all at the dinner table together mesmerized by their stories. But we were also listening for secrets. What secrets could be gleaned from these three accomplished Hollywood VIPs? Why did they succeed when so many others fail?
No magic potions or formulas for success were revealed, but it was easy to see the common denominators among these three winners: curiosity, drive, attitude, resiliency and a tenacious and never-giving up hold on their dreams.
Bob Balaban – Actor, writer, director (remember him Midnight Cowboy?) claims his success is genetic. People are born storytellers. When he finds a story he loves, he doesn’t give up. He sticks with his dream until he can excite someone to buy into it. Having moved him, he knows that story would be better than anything the studio marketing department could invent.
Brett Ratner – The producer and director (Rush Hour), who also thinks he was born to entertain, agrees with Balaban. “Never let that dream die. Don’t ever accept ‘N’ for an answer. Show some bravado … lots of bravado!”
Most impressive was Peter Guber – Producer, director, studio head (Gorillas in the Mist, Superman, Rain Man etc.). Guber was born to ask questions. His curiosity won’t let him sleep. He has no need for sleep, for he dreams during the day.
He was also born to be in front of an audience, but in the courtroom, not on film. He’s a lawyer, a business school graduate, a college professor, an author, talk show host and popular motivational speaker. Even accomplished, multi-talented Balaban, after watching a film tribute to Guber, said, “I’ve been sleeping for 30 years!”
Guber, who has headed several studios, including Sony and Mandalay, introduced a pragmatic view into the conversation. “Remember, it’s a business,” he said. “It’s called show business, not show show. … We have to be fiscally responsible. Some wonderful dreams and top-notch scripts don’t sell tickets, and they invested to recoup their investment. If it doesn’t cover expenses, the movie is a failure, no matter how many Oscars it may win.”