Geoffroy Faugérolas, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2016 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: “One of the draw to starting your own business is creative control. You get to create a culture, choose employees, make rules, etc. If you were to build your own business from the ground up, what would your ideal business look like? Get creative and be specific.”
I often like to fantasize and envision myself as the misunderstood Willy Wonka of film production, a crossover between the creative genius of Spielburg and the business insanity of Ryan Kavanaugh. My creative palace would feature technology to make Google blush and an open policy that puts to shame Zuckerburg’s casual attitude. My only hopes are not to end up like Howard Hughes, locked away in my cutting room with Kleenex all around. As exuberant as this idea may seem, I do like the concept of having a safe haven for creative geniuses, where they will all find an ear that cares about spreading positive messages in this world. However, being an entrepreneur myself, I am well aware of the limitations of our world and the challenges of the business world.
When my production company will grow, and hopefully it will, here are the steps I will enact to create a unique company. First, I would settle a 360 degree office on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The proximity with the agencies would guarantee not only working relationships, but also facilitate impromptu lunch meetings, ear dropping strategies and discrete propaganda. They will see our offices everyday, be invited to play golf on the rooftop and be reminded to send us their best packages. Our furniture would be entirely transparent, with a suspended pool and a French chef cooking for our employees. At the same time, the panoramic tinted windows will allow us to spy on the competition, as a constant reminder of the wildness of our world, motivating the employees to keep our company competitive.
Having at the moment the double status of intern and entrepreneur, I understand the importance of treating employees with respect and gratitude. In addition to film production, we would diversify our portfolio with TV shows, commercials and music videos. New filmmakers will have the opportunity to climb the ladder while established directors will have the chance to work in many mediums. Then, we would open branches in Hong-Kong, Dubai and London, where the proximity to large financial assets and trust funds will allow the company to develop and buy a distributor. With a new distribution department, we will be able to bypass the studio system and offer competitive deals to movie theatres by keeping a small structure. Our strategy would be to focus on a few brilliant movies, but minimizing risks for the company through work-for-hire projects such as TV, commercials and music videos. As a result, the company will be a mini studio, capable of thinking fast on its feet with a transparent, open policy.
Employees will be chosen based on a mental motivation test: “May the best win,” with all of the incentives to stay and be nurtured in the company, where they will be able to perform at their optimal capacity. We would combine the worlds of Silicon Valley and Hollywood int one uniquely avant-garde production company.
Geoffroy is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Media Production.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.