Glamorizing Villainy: Ink Trumps Intention

This Christmas, Martin Scorsese debuted his new movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which chronicles the sleazy rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a penny-stock manipulator who stole hundreds of millions from unsophisticated investors. The critical reception to the movie has been warm (77% on Rotten Tomatoes), but as with many of its predecessors (Wall … Continue reading Glamorizing Villainy: Ink Trumps Intention

The Performer and the Script

The very wise and very successful Saad Khan says that he only invests in “badasses.”  I’m on board with that; given the likely length of the investor/entrepreneur relationship, life’s too short to waste on people you don’t like. Yet like many simple rules, it’s incomplete.  Investing in great people is a critical part of being … Continue reading The Performer and the Script

How To Win A Hackathon (or an Oscar)

I had breakfast with a young entrepreneur who was upset that he hadn’t won a hackathon, despite finishing an original, working product with a high degree of difficulty.  I asked him to describe what his team had built. “We built an app that lets you annotate equations.  Clicking on any of the factors in the … Continue reading How To Win A Hackathon (or an Oscar)

Carte Blanche and the Creativity of Constraint

As Los Angeles native, I can’t help but see parallels between my home town’s industry (movies) and my adopted home’s (startups).  Today’s parallel concerns the problem with having too much money. In Hollywood, studios love to work with successful directors.  When a director produces a critical and commercial smash, a studio or production company is … Continue reading Carte Blanche and the Creativity of Constraint

You’re not your audience

Judd Apatow is probably the most influential person in the movie industry today.  Thanks to a string of hits that he directed or produced, like Old School, Wedding Crashers, Superbad, and Bridesmaids, his brand of comedy has become the dominant school. So given his success, you’d think that Apatow would rely on his billion-dollar comedy … Continue reading You’re not your audience

Make things you think will be successful, not things you think won’t fail

In his enormously entertaining and insightful interview on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show, director and actor Eli Roth (Hostel, Inglourious Basterds, Hemlock Grove) made an important point about the movie business, and why it was hard to work with many studios: “People don’t make movies they think will be successful; they make movies they think … Continue reading Make things you think will be successful, not things you think won’t fail

Don’t play to the crew, play to the audience

Another lesson from the great Kevin Pollak.  One of the points he makes about acting is that many novices make the mistake of playing to the crew.  When you’re on the set of a movie, there is no studio audience.  The closest thing are the members of the crew–all the gaffers, grips, and best boys … Continue reading Don’t play to the crew, play to the audience

Why product first impressions are important:

I often draw lessons for startups from the world of entertainment.  In one episode of my favorite entertainment podcase, the Kevin Pollak Chat Show, Kevin discussed why he thought it was so important to nail the first joke of a movie. Kevin’s point was that the first joke has to let the audience know that … Continue reading Why product first impressions are important:

Education Reform At Last?

“An Inconvenient Truth” represented a major shift in this country’s thinking about global warming. That documentary took climate change from a niche concern to one of the pillars of the green movement (which, incidentally, has subsumed the environmentalist movement–when’s the last time you heard anyone talk about environmentalism?–yet another example of the power of re-branding). … Continue reading Education Reform At Last?

Star Trek Review (No Spoilers): A Worthy Addition With More Character Backdrop

A well-crafted and worthy addition (I just saw it yesterday as well…my wife and I were able to sneak off for a 10:15 AM matinee, since my parents are in town for Mother’s Day, and they watched the kids). It was definitely less cerebral and philosophical than Treks past, and I must admit that I … Continue reading Star Trek Review (No Spoilers): A Worthy Addition With More Character Backdrop