I’m not speaking of the traditional apple turnovers, which are tender and flaky, with apple pie-like filling and a thin, white glaze. Nor am I speaking about Gwenyth’s daughter. I’m speaking of the kinds that are just a bit flaky and work as executives at movie studios in Hollywood.
When I began my film career in the 90s, I met a slew of awesome people who had great jobs with MGM, Miramax, and so forth. After Harvey Weinstein called me personally to express his interest in my film PEP SQUAD, I became friends with his assistant. Or, rather, his assistant du jour. That person was quickly replaced by another assistant, who, shortly after being hired, developed a crush on me. It was kind of bizarre. Of course I never met the guy in real life, but to be funny, I sent him an 8×10 glossy of my face as a joke. He hung it up on the wall by his desk. And each time I called to visit with Harvey, the assistant thought I was calling to visit with him, not Harvey. It all became very confusing. But, just as soon as he was developing some long-distance feelings for me, he was axed as well. So in came another assistant. By that point I’d sold my movie to another distributor and I didn’t think Harvey would appreciate me continuing to bother him, so I stopped calling. I’m not sure who his next assistant was.
My mentor Eric Sherman always suggested it was a really good idea to network and make friends with executives at certain companies because at some point they might be able to help me get a movie made, or whatever.
Besides Harvey Weinstein’s assistant, I met some great people who were VP’s of production, directors of acquisitions, and other higher-ups that, one would think, would be relatively great connections.
One incredible woman, Sara Rose, was an inspiration to me. After seeing my film at the Cannes Film Market, she came up to me afterwards to introduce herself. Any time I was in LA I would stop by and see her at MGM. She always took my meetings and was always a delight to visit with. She then became VP of Production at MGM and we spoke many times about making my film FIRECRACKER together. That didn’t happen, but we kept in touch and I always looked forward to working with her in the future.
While I was on track to develop these relationships (some of the people were awesome, like Sara Rose, but some of the other ones were the flaky kind and not so cool), a strange thing kept happening. They kept losing their jobs.
Some executives moved to other companies on their own free will, some were moved into different jobs within the same company (but not a job that had anything to do with why I was talking to them), and then there were some were fired and were never seen or heard from again.
After several years it became clear to me that most movie executives can’t keep a job for more than about two years. This Turnover Syndrome is a bizarre fact about the movie business. Even Penny Marshall mentioned this phenomenon in her memoirs. If there is someone working with you on your movie when you start the process, they won’t be working at the studio when you finish the movie. Just as simple as that.
My question is: WHY? Why can’t most movie executives keep a job for more than a couple years?