The Secret to Success
By NESTOR HERNANDEZ
What is the secret to becoming a successful producer, script writer, director or actor? Since I have had the opportunity to teach in film schools and universities, this has been one of the most frequently questions asked questions by the majority of my students. The first time I ever responded to that question, I thought to myself, “if such a secret existed, I would have to say that it is a combination of effort, love for what you do, humility in moments of success, self-criticism in moments of failure and many other values that my professors and classmates have imparted onto me over the last 15 years. To this day, I believe this is all true but… with time. I have come to the conclusion that, above all, that is what you must learn. This in my opinion, would be the secret. Besides everything else, in our profession, no matter what specialty you decide to choose, you must be aware that that many have walked down that same road. Obviously, you can add new parallel paths to that road, but the base, the path has already been cleared, and although many may get discouraged, this is good news. It means that we don’t have to walk blindly, and we can learn from other people’s experiences. And just like them we can share ours. We have to remember that in our profession most of our work requires teamwork. Teams that do not work as a team and communicate, will rarely win. So, does this mean that we cannot reach success without learning from others? I would suppose the answer is “no”. Innate talent sometimes allows the most gifted “franchise players” (to continue with the sports metaphor) to reach the goal regardless of circumstances. But even in these cases, no matter how much success is achieved, it would have been greater accompanied by a passion to learn from others and from those who preceded us. The result would inevitably have been even better, or at least the process would have been easier. Therefore, it stands to reason that no matter how much talent you have, the method is clear.
In addition, you must learn how to learn. What exactly does, ‘learn how to learn’ mean? One way I can explain this is; think of yourself as your own company. After all, we are professionals, so we are our own brand. You are the product and your own the company. It doesn’t matter if you are an independent artist or the executive of a multinational.
As your own company there are other things that are require, including self-investment, development and innovation (I+D+I) if you want to succeed and prolong your success over time. So, learning to learn is nothing more than developing your own formula (I+D+I). As with companies, this requires some investment, but in our case, its required in small quantities. You might say that self-investment in our case is as obvious as watching as many movies, art exhibitions and plays as we can, and, above all, to continue to read as many books as we are able to. When I say “as we are able to”, I mean not only the ones we like, but also those we don’t like as much but we know they’re good for us. We need an overview of the environment, if we want move forward successfully. As for the development applied to ourselves, it would be nothing more than a combination of humility, empathy and intellectual effort. Humility to share with others, what we have learned and to recognize what others propose, as part of a better approach than our own vision. Empathy to put yourself in the place of each of the members from the teams that you work with and try to help them, with all due respect, in the hopes that, in turn, they also improve in learning. Remember that if you surround yourself with good people, would will be better. Finally, we refer to the the intellectual effort that is required to be alert, so that every little detail of each project or each reading will serve to continue weaving the network of your knowledge. If we really try our best to do all of the above and understand that we will continue to do so, for the rest of our lives…success will be a natural consequence that will come sooner or later, but it will be sure to come.
– Néstor Hernández es an Executive Producer who has worked for 15 years developing and producing projects for companies like HBO, Myspace, RTVE, Telefonica, Mediaset, and others.