In 1989, my wife and I were sitting in a movie theatre watching the premiere of a picture called FIELD OF DREAMS. It starred an almost-unknown man, Kevin Costner, an older man, Burt Lancaster, and the magnificent James Earl Jones, in one of his last roles.
None of us had ANY idea what the picture would be about.
The images came on-screen, and we watched every frame. We also kept looking at one another and clenched each other’s hands, hoping that the story would be true to itself. It was.
When it was over, we were in a state of shock – this movie REALLY was what it was, and didn’t compromise in the least.
I went up to the writer-director, Phil Alden Robinson, and (a) congratulated him; (b) asked how he could have gotten that screenplay approved. Here’s what he said:
He had written a very successful comedy, ALL OF ME, starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. He thought it would be easy to get his next one approved, with him as director.
Every studio passed on it, thinking it was silly, and about baseball, and “who cares?”
By the time everyone had said “no,” all the studio management had changed, so he resubmitted it. Again, everyone had said no. And, yes, this happened a third time. Phil was nearly in despair.
One day he was crying on the shoulder of a friend of his – a horror film producer who had had many successes. The producer read the script, and he loved it. He took it to the studio who most wanted him to work there, Universal, and told them about it. They laughed, stating they’d passed on it three times before. But he took their desire to work with him seriously – and used FIELD OF DREAMS as their entrance point. They put a number of strict guidelines on the project (budget limits, etc.), and sent them off to make it.
The rest is history. The picture was a major success, started Kevin’s starring career, and revitalized a whole segment of the movie-going audience.
Who would have thought?
So, what did it take? Phil’s undying interest in the project, and his certainty that others would find it appealing. It also took some points of agreement that hadn’t been predicted.
If your idea is unique, what will it take to get it financed and made? The main thing is: YOU have to believe in it, and locate others who are similarly inclined!
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