7 Things Filmmakers Can Learn
From Steve Jobs

By Elliot Grove

Once in a generation we get a true visionary that is able to combine creativity and commerce. Once such man is, I believe, Steve Jobs.

I had the pleasure to meet him in 1978 when he was working with Steve Wozniak in his parent's garage - in a scenario of wires, cables, soldering irons and great passion. They were so broke I gave them $50.00 to buy groceries. Oh that I would have had a share in Apple instead!

Steve Jobs was an inspirational leader and innovator. When he returned to Apple after a decade in the wilderness he took the ailing company way beyond all it's competitors using a combination of zeal, talent and hard work.

I found this excellent collection of Steve Job's quotes, took some spritual guidance from Umair Haque's excelent blog. Herewith:

7 Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn From Steve Jobs

1. Decide what matters.

"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water — or do you want to change the world?"
That's what Steve famously asked John Sculley. Translation: do you really want to spend your days slaving over work that fails to inspire, on stuff that fail to count, for reasons that fail to touch the soul of anyone?

2. Master your craft.

"Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."
Whatever you do, you have to admire the way Apple has influenced the field of design. Their design teams, closely mentored and monitored ny Jobs himself, buit design so deep into their machines that Apple has changed the way the entire world looks at design. As Umair Haque says: Would you say the Gap's reshaped textiles? Would you say McDonald's has reshaped nutrition? Nope and nope.

How is your movie career going to change the way people think and act?

3. Do the insanely great.

"When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it."
If you want to be noticed in this day and age you have to rise above the mundane, the mediocre and the ho-hum. It's not enough to make yet another cute darling sweet indie film (or script) Your work has to be great.

4. Have taste.

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste."
In today's digital age you don't need legions of crew, huge sums of money or that elusive distribution deal to do great work. All you really need is the ability to make an artisitic judgement that has taste. And by taste, I mean the opposite of tackiness - the common denominator of our world where everything is dumbed down and where no one seems to care about anything other than their own selfish needs.

Taste is a secret weapon that you can use to distinguish yourself.

5. Build a temple.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
Making a film or writing a screenplay involves a huge amount of effort. It's not possible for you to do great work unless you pay attention to every single detail, as Steve Jobs did. And you won't be able to do that unless you love your work.

6. Don't build a casino.

"The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament."
Believe it or not, the Apple empire that Job's inherited was deep in debt, nearly strangled by interest payments and calls on capital. He decided to innovate his way out of the mess and created the world's 2nd largest company (after Exxon) - a company entirely debt free. He resisted the urge to go for the flashy big investor which meant he could and did build a company that will endure long after his passing.

Waiting around for the big BFI grant or the sugar-daddy equity investr doesn't make you a filmmaker It makes you reliant on the decisions of someone else.

7. Don't pander — better.

"We didn't build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves."
Jobs listened intently to his customers, and often responded himself personally to bloggers and help-desk questions and complaints. Armed with this knowledge, Jobs was able to gauge his audience's wildest expectations and then took Apple beyond in a breath taking leap to the stars. Other computer companies seem to deliberately cater to the lowest common denominator.

Can you make a film or write a script that goes beyond everyone's expectiations? Or are you going to make a cynical clone of what has gone before hoping to cash in on the coat-tails of someone else's success?

Trust yourself and your instincts.

Fade Out

Steve Jobs used his vision, and the principles outlined above to rejuvenate and renew market after market. His products have become universal parts of everyday life. When you make your film, set up your blog, make a telephone call or use a PC you are likely to be using at least one Apple product.

Can you take Job's learning and apply them to your filmmaking career?

Elliot Grove





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About The Author

Elliot Grove Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2004) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009).  He was awarded a PhD in 2009 for services to film education. His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

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7 Things Filmmakers Can Learn From Steve Jobs