Trust Your Own Taste
Along the way we have not only found advisers and mentors whose expertise has been invaluable, but we’ve also often found their advice saves us from succumbing to the plague of self-doubt with which any young entrepreneur and probably every young artist is intimately familiar. There is always that voice that says “What makes you think you’re so special?” or “Why would anyone care what you have to say?”
Tom Heller has produced such films as Win Win, 127 Hours, Monogamy, Precious, and Mother and Child. You may notice a thread connecting these movies: they’re all good. I chased him down to see if he could tell me how to be like him, since his is a career I truly admire not just in its accomplishment but also in its integrity. He met me for coffee one bustling afternoon near Washington Square Park right around when NYU was getting back into session. I had a thousand questions from the broad to the granular, all of which he answered with patience (lucky for me) and expertise.
When I asked him what advice he would have for a young producer, he recounted the start of his own career in films as a talent agent for writers. He said he would often gamble on a new writer, lesser known, based on his own feeling about their capabilities. He said he would pick up some clients that colleagues told him he was crazy to pick up. He stuck to his guns. He told me, “You have to trust your own taste.”
This small stretch of monosyllables would make Shakespeare proud. First of all, it’s iambic. Secondly, it packs into a few words a life’s worth of struggle, and all of the seeds of the principle to guide it.
As we launch into our post-production phase and start to think about putting our little movie out into the world, these pangs of doubt can become more acute. However, Tom’s advice continues to be a beacon: we have a story to tell, and we have to trust in our own way of telling it .