I have a theory. It’s not a scientific theory or even a proven theory (if it were then, well, it would be a fact and not a theory) and my theory is this: at any given time, on any given day, there are only seven people in the world actually doing something. The rest? They’re having lunch; endlessly discussing the idea of maybe doing something, or else smoking weed and going “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” Seven people. A Gang of Seven if you will.
Of course, there’s nothing at all wrong with discussing a project over a sandwich, but there’s a sure-fire way to tell if the people you’re with are really serious about doing something or are just members of the lunch bunch. It’s called the follow-through. This will not come as news to any seasoned veterans out there, but to those just starting out I say sure, have a lunch meeting, hell, have a coffee even, and go in with the best of intentions and full in the belief that the meeting is going to result in positive results (you never know), then… chill. Do nothing but wait. Wait for the next couple of days, see if anybody actually sends you that file they promised they would, or that email address, or that script, or that… whatever. If they do then that’s a good sign that they are serious. If they don’t then, well, all I can say is I hope you ordered the lobster. I can’t tell you how many “creative lunches” I’ve been to over the decades to discuss a film project, a book or a show – but I can tell you this: I’ve put on more pounds than projects.
I recall back in the go-go 80’s, back when people had more money than God, there was this guy who wanted to create an amusement park based totally on music. I don’t remember all the details of the project (except that there was going to be a roller-coaster called the Rock ‘ n’ Roller Coaster, lame I know but I blame it on the drugs) but I do remember the endless lunches. Now a music-themed amusement park isn’t an awful idea, as awful ideas go, but after six months of eating lunch (I mean “discussing the project”) I began to notice that nothing was happening. No contracts signed, no ground broken, no nothing – and it took me a while to realize that nothing was ever supposed to come of it. It was only a way to appear to be productive without actually ever having to do any work (and I’m fairly certain the lunches were on S.E.T.: Someone Else’s Tab). Thirty years later and not much has changed.
The business we’re in is very difficult. It’s full of wannabes, could-a-been’s, users, abusers, posers, hipsters, lunchers, time-wasters, vipers and vampires – but remember: also out there, somewhere, are the Gang of Seven. My advice to those of you who have a great script, a great song, a talent for acting, singing or dancing (or whatever) is simple: skip lunch and stay hungry. The people out there who accomplish something don’t have the time to “do lunch”, they’re too busy actually doing things.
(c) 2010 Jim Yoakum
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