Ben: How did you Transition from ICM Agent to Filmmaker?
Jim: I think a lot of entertainment business executives are very creative. Many of them are shadow artists and, for some reason or another, did not follow their first occupational choice. I was an actor and stand-up comic before becoming an ICM Agent. After 9 years there, I yearned to be creative again. Indeed, I started becoming jealous of my clients and knew it was only a matter of time. After quitting, I started as a writer and producer and then began to direct after a few more years. I had to start at square one and meet an almost entirely new contact network as my agent contacts were much too big for me!
Ben: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Jim: If you find yourself walking into a brick wall, try to avoid hitting your head against it over and over again—and find a way around it.
Ben: You travel across the country to lecture. Do you think the film scenes vary by region?
Jim: Absolutely. The biggest distinctions are those locations where the wealthy are encouraged to invest in film and theater. And if there is a decent film or arts tax incentive/rebate. It can make a huge difference in creating and encouraging a professional creative community. It can also have a very positive impact on attracting tourism to their region.
Ben: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about the industry?
Jim: To have thick skin and not to take rejection personally. Usually, it has nothing to do with you. To avoid toxic people or assholes whatever the sacrifice—it’s not worth it!
Ben: You’ve worked with a lot of notable names, which one had the biggest impact on your professional life?
Jim: I’m currently directing a documentary about the life and art of Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau. I’m learning a lot about entertainment, life and art from him. I also learned a lot from Alan Arkin, Arthur Miller and John Chancellor.
Ben: Where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 years?
Jim: I think it is on a collision course with Silicon Valley/tech—which will divide, conquer and acquire Hollywood. I also believe that the obligation will be on us creatives to become more and more entrepreneurial and create our own audiences and followers. Hence, the impetus for my Creative Entrepreneurship workshop on May 20th .
Ben: Get your Tickets for that workshop below!