Wednesday, August 08, 2012
MAKE HIM AN OFFER HE CAN REFUSE
Money clouds your judgement.
You think it is just you who can have your better judgement swayed by a paycheck waved at your desperation.
People like us who have to make a choice about taking that freelance job on an awful corporate video, just to pay the rent.
You think it only happens to us mere mortals.
But you're wrong.
Even for the greats, money clouds your judgement.
Even for someone like Marlon Brando for his legendary, Oscar-winning role as 'Don Corleone' in 'The Godfather'.
I love this story. Especially since it relates to the secret wrangling behind the scenes of the iconic film (one of my personal favourites).
The fact that the story is about shady deals involved in making an iconic gangster movie just makes it better.
So, imagine it's 1970 and 'The Godfather' is in pre-production.
Apparently, the studio making the film dislikes both the Director, Francis Ford Coppola, and the proposed lead, Marlon Brando.
Brando, however, had given an early preview of how he thought the character would speak and conduct himself. It was so good, allegedly, that his transformation into 'Don Corleone' (including tissues shoved into his mouth for the jutting jaw) was dubbed 'The Miracle on Mullholland'.
Brando was in.
And then came the touchy subject of pay.
The studio still disliked Brando on some level, so apparently they offered him 'actor's scale (note: minimum wage for actors) up front and 5 percent of gross receipts when the film grossed $50 million. He would also have to put up a bond against any cost overruns caused by his bad behaviour.'
But Brando needed the money now. So, he sent his lawyer back to the negotiating table with the studio, where he 'pleaded for at least $100,000 to help the actor avoid tax delinquency. In exchange Brando agreed to return his points (note: percentage of the gross box office) in the movie'.
The studio agreed.
As we now know, the Godfather was a huge hit.
This deal, where Brando handed back his possible percentage of the profits for more cash upfront, ultimately cost him at least $11 million.
The reason why this is a cautionary tale, and not just a random tidbit, is because Brando had an inkling that 'The Godfather' would be a hit.
You never really know, but the book 'The Godfather' was based on had been an enormous success, and had a large and loyal following.
Brando had also indicated, to his advisors, that he knew 'The Godfather' had the makings of a spectacular success.
But, knowing this, he let money get in the way of his decision making.
What if he had believed in the possible success of the film just that little bit more, without the money clouding his judgement?
He would have had $11million in his bank account instead of $100,000.
Learn from Brando's mistake.
Do your absolute best to ignore the money.
Trust your judgement.
Believe in your work.
P.S. For more reading on this story:
'Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex)' by Peter Bart
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