Ideas are not important. Does that sound odd to you? I thought I might reiterate what a young filmmaker recently expressed. Ideas are not important. Good ideas, even brilliant ideas are a dime a dozen. What makes an idea important is execution. Unless the idea is put into work it remains inherently useless. Execution is the key. Of course, ideas are easy. Realizing those ideas is difficult. Often, very difficult.
I find a lot of people make this mistake. They have a great idea and think they are on to something truly important. The truth is, an idea not acted upon, not executed remains essentially useless. I can’t tell you how many good ideas I’ve heard over a lifetime in this business. These often brilliant ideas came from co-workers, friends and colleagues. Of course, the idea usually goes no further than that. It was a fascinating idea that never went anywhere. Once again, a great idea not executed remains useless. Some years ago, my colleagues and I came up with what we considered a good idea. The educational marketplace had a real need for instructional media on the subject of Black history. That meant sixties media such as 16mm motion pictures and filmstrips. Of course, we weren’t the only ones to recognize this need. There were other filmmakers who saw this as well and they spoke enthusiastically about it. However, my colleagues and I stopped talking and began to put our ideas into action. Once again, a good idea is worthless unless acted upon. Unable to obtain financing, we reached deep into our own pockets until we were able to come up with enough money to finance our first film. We began to develop scripts and storyboards and even hired a few local scriptwriters to hammer our material into shape. It wasn’t easy, of course. Execution never is. Ideas are easy. Execution is hard work.
Finally, let me add another important element to this discussion. It’s the idea of commitment. And, I mean by that, total commitment. When we took up our educational filmmaking crusade we knew that we would only achieve success by making a full time commitment. We acquired office space in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles, and one by one my colleagues left their jobs. As you can imagine, it was not an easy thing to do. I confess I was the last to leave my sweet storytelling job. You see, I had recently gotten a good job at the Walt Disney Studios. And, it wasn’t just a good job, it was a great job. It meant I even attended story meetings with the Old Maestro himself. You can imagine the surprised look on my bosses face when I informed him I was leaving the company. I had taken on a new role of movie producer in my own company. Naturally, you can’t be serious about your new role and have a “Day Job” as well. Total commitment means not having a fall back position. It means not having a “Plan B.” This is something I continually remind aspiring motion picture producers. If you have a day job, you’re not really a producer. You’re kidding yourself because it’s not your job - it’s your hobby and hobbies don’t count for much in this very serious business.
As young filmmakers we had no shortage of ideas. And of course these ideas were immediately put into action. One thing was certain. We knew we would never be taken seriously unless we began to execute. That means we had to actually create motion pictures. In time, scripts were developed and filming began. There were times when we had three movies in various stages of development and production and it was a very exciting time. Our humble efforts probably seem minuscule compared to the big budget motion pictures of Hollywood but I take a certain pride in being able create our own motion pictures at a time when being a minority production company was not the easiest task in the motion picture business. Finally, I’ll ask whether you have a few good ideas or maybe even a few great ideas. Remember, that great idea is going nowhere unless you decide to execute. Unless you decide to make it happen. That’s something worth thinking about when you consider there’s absolutely no shortage of ideas in this crazy, idea filled town called, Hollywood.