Scheduling Love

Busy people often struggle to make ends meet with their loved ones. Life gets out of hand. Before you know it, you miss every meal with him or her and spend no time together except asleep at night. If left unchecked, this can tax your relationship to a bitter end.

If your relationship is truly important to you, you must carve out sacred time for it. One of my teachers in Hollywood, Bruce Botnick, upholds a rare feat in the entertainment industry: he and his wife have been happily married for 43 years. Beyond a pact to stay the uncompromising individuals they each fell in love with in the beginning, a large part of their success as a couple comes from sacred time together. To this day, they still go on dates and get to know each other. Bruce’s stories are a charm to hear – and he spouts them like a giddy schoolboy. A man in true love.

Spending time together is one of the keys to keeping a union healthy. Many forget or neglect it, especially couples that have been together forever. As unromantic as it sounds, you must schedule time for love. Make those blocks of time sacred and let no one take them away.

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Avoid False Promises

The most respected men and women follow through with their commitments, return favors, honor agreements, and exceed expectations. Without question, dependability is a virtue. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Breaking a promise causes more trouble than passing on the promise in the first place. Never string people along. Never say “maybe.” If you know you can or cannot, say so. If you do not know for sure, make no promises – make the facts known, do your research, and return with a definitive answer (if you have no intention of doing the research, get it out of the way and just say “no” now). Do not be afraid to say “no.” Smart people respect and value honesty over weak commitments.

The 90-Minute Rule

Coffee

90 minutes is the optimal duration for achieving certain types of immersion: social, narrative, health, entertainment, and more. Any shorter than 90 minutes, you cannot cover all the bases. Any longer, the brain may lose focus.

Generally, I set aside 90 minutes for coffee or meal get-togethers and tend to hit that mark without keeping track of time. All of the bases have been covered and the situation has turned cognitively stale. 

While being a conceptual and social theory, the 90-minute rule may be naturally linked to the circadian rhythm of our bodies (a sleep cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes, for example).

I have found the following to be most effective when conformed to a 90-minute window of time:

  • Revisiting with an old friend
  • Business meetings
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Feature films
  • Home dining experiences
  • Concerts
  • Board games

With enough arcs and nuances to an activity, the 90-minute rule can be broken and expanded to achieve longer sustained immersion. Hikes, conventions, recreational sports, and several forms of entertainment can all present enough twists and turns to keep you invested longer than 90 minutes. The average duration of my ten favorite films, for example, is 131 minutes. Rich and fulfilling content or activities can transcend time (and your day calendar).

Can you think of any other activities that fit a 90-minute profile?

Film Friday: The Project Triangle

Project TriangleThe Project Triangle concept was first conceived in the engineering world and has helped me navigate countless managerial decisions in Hollywood. For those not familiar, the Project Triangle rules that you can only pick two of the three: Good, Fast or Cheap.

The logic makes sense and can help you rapidly prioritize through difficult, urgent decisions. In film, there are many – especially as a studio executive, producer, or coordinator.

If you want quality work done quickly, you cannot expect things to be cheap. Talented artists who can move fast without missing a beat are extremely rare and therefore extremely expensive. Want a Director of Photography who can make 45 setups a day look like Leibovitz? Start at $3,000 per day. 3D conversion of a feature film in 45 days? $12-15 Million base.

If you want the project resolved promptly and to cut costs, do not expect top-notch work. Running and gunning a show with cheap labor opens the door for creative and technical mistakes. Many independent films do not gain traction because they simply lack the resources and time to reach distributable or marketable quality. Entire companies like The Asylum have embraced mediocre output to sustain business and cut substantial costs.

If you want to win awards and save money, be prepared to wait a very long time. If you are lucky, the material is strong enough to inspire great talent for scale cost – but you have to work around their schedules. Everyone needs to pay the bills – and my pro bono contribution to your breakout short will take the back seat to my full-time job. Sorry.

I think you can accomplish all three triangle points in one project, but most likely as a weekend passion project or a random conceptual twist of genius. Very rarely, great work is created in little time with no money. As an administrator or producer, you cannot bank on that roll of the dice.

Be prepared for only two of the three; hope for the third.