Industry Focus: The Film Industry with Steve Gaub
Steve Gaub (Minnesota 1996) is one of the lucky few who has been able to make it big in the film industry. He is co-producer of the movie Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Andrea Riseborough, which will be released in April 2013. He was also co-producer for TRON: Legacy in 2010. Steve has also worked as associate producer on films including Terminator Salvation (2009), Traitor (2008), Atlanta (2007) and The Return (2006). Steve shares his insights about working in the film industry with us below. We’re proud to call Steve one of our own!
1. Tell us about what you do today and what your job entails.
I’m a producer working in Feature Films. Creating a movie is a lot like creating a start-up company. You have to first define what your product is, then start developing a schedule and a budget to create your product. Next comes hiring the employees that will help you realize your vision and begin to build the product. This includes designing and building sets, creating costumes, finding actors, refining the script, etc, etc. It also includes actually shooting and then editing the movie. Once you’ve created your product, you release it to the world and hope that many will find some sense of joy or satisfaction in using your product, which in this case, is viewing a movie.
2. How did you come to be in the film industry? What attracted you to the industry? What makes it interesting to work in the film industry?
There are many things that attracted me to the industry. Most of all, I wanted to work in an industry where I could be creative. That I would be working to create some form of art was also very appealing. Working in feature films is endlessly entertaining to me, in that the job is always changing and evolving. Every movie is different in many ways. Different story, different actors, different locations and logistics to master, unique challenges at every turn. It’s all incredibly energizing.
3. How has AIESEC helped you become the professional you are or helped you in your job?
I’ve always struggled against my natural tendencies to be an introvert. AIESEC was a lesson in discovering people with common interests, developing trust in fellow team members, and challenging myself to break out of my introvert shell and have the confidence to be a pseudo-extrovert. AIESEC was also a lesson in the power of combining forces for a common goal to achieve unbelievable tasks. With a strong, united team and clear, well planned goals, it is remarkable what can be accomplished.
4. What is it like to work with celebrities? What challenges does it bring to your job?
In general, working with celebrities becomes very natural. They are after all, as many say, just people like all of us. And in the large undertaking of a feature film, they are, in the most basic analysis, just another group of team members. At the same time, you can’t get around the fact that many are known around the world and come with their own set of expectations that have been built up in absence of me, based on their experiences in past projects, many of which I’m completely unaware. So, the challenge becomes being able to quickly read idiosyncrasies and finding ways in which I can most effectively communicate with who we call “the talent.”
5. What are the current challenges facing the film industry? What positive changes are happening?
The film industry has been changing drastically over the last 5-10 years. First there was the long-term sustainability of the independent film industry, which opened up what was previously a much more closed industry. The internet has also opened up means of advertising and distributing movies in ways that previously didn’t even exist. Technology has made leaps and bounds and allowed for less expensive and more creative ways to create movies. And now the global distribution market is beginning to be perceived as more critical than finding success in the North American market. This also opens up many markets through which we can source resources, whether they be new global locations for filming or hiring creative talent from building markets like China and India. Thankfully, with my past life experiences and with my time in AIESEC, I’ve always had a very global point of view.
6. How have consumers’ expectations of movies changed over time?
For the most part, consumers’ expectations haven’t really changed. Most importantly, they just want an entertaining escape. A story that intrigues them on some level…whether it be one that challenges them, scares them, makes them laugh or gets their adrenaline pumping…brought to them by actors that they can relate to on some level. The goal has always been to deliver to consumers the most creative, entertaining product possible.
One thing that has changed drastically with consumers is their patience with movies. The internet has created a market of entertaining videos that last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The gaming industry has created a market of immersive, highly interactive entertainment that often tell very compelling stories that consumers can get sucked into immediately. So with movies, more so than 10-20 years ago, if you can’t grab an audience’s attention within the first 10 minutes of your story, they often don’t have patience to wait for payoffs. And then if there aren’t dramatic or action peaks throughout the movie, you can easily lose today’s audience. As a result, the pace of storytelling has increased significantly.
7. What do you want consumers to feel or experience when they watch one of the movies you have worked on?
Satisfaction. Different consumers will come to the same movie with their own individual expectations, whether it be watching their favorite actor or relating to a story of interest or watching ridiculously big explosions. The goal is to create an entertaining product that will satisfy as many of those individual expectations as possible.
8. What would you tell people who are interested in getting into the film industry?
I get asked this question very often. It is a difficult industry to get into, a more difficult one to navigate, but by no means impossible to find a niche and some level of success. I am living proof of that. So what I tell people is probably similar to what many people should be told who are looking to start their own business or to break into any other “closed” industry. Persistence, patience and perseverance. If you want to get into the industry to be famous, you probably won’t last too long. If you want to get into the industry because you have an artist’s heart and have found a love for the work, then you stand a much greater chance. There will be many obstacles, many missteps, and many people telling you to pack it in and go get a sensible job. But if you hang onto your convictions, and pursue it as a long-term goal with persistence, patience and perseverance, you will very likely find your footing and enjoy a long career in the industry.
If you would like to ask Steve some additional questions, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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