You’re Too Smart to Go Down Stupid

Joel Eisenberg
4 min readNov 7, 2019

(Or, Dream Killers Ain’t Nuthin’ but a Thing)


If you find that you cannot get the work done within the machine, do it yourself.

In disclosure, as a writer-producer in the insanely tough business of Hollywood, I’ve fallen on my face more times than I can count. I’ve always, however, brushed off the failure and strived to move forward. I’ve had some successes and innumerable failures.

But, if the business is truly in your blood, you find a way to go on.

Gareth Edwards, director of the 2014 Godzilla reboot, had one homemade feature to his credit prior to directing the $200 million return of the giant lizard. The film was an indie titled Monsters, and it was shot for less than $500,000. Monsters was no big commercial hit, as it grossed $4.2 million globally. The reviews, however, were sensational.

The Blair Witch Project may have been a fluke success, though well over $100 million domestically can never be dismissed. What it proves yet again is possibility can indeed meet opportunity.

Frequently, though, you have to create those opportunities for yourself. The Blair Witch Project was financed and shot independently, and purchased later by Artisan Entertainment.

Another possibility? Fortunes derived from self-published books. The Martian was initially self-published, and then purchased by a major. And then the film rights were purchased and that team’s efforts earned the movie over $500,000,000 around the world.

Again, this is the exception far more than the rule, of course, but once more proving the potential of the DIY concept. Do you think Andy Weir, the writer of the novel, is (still) smiling, all these years later? I’d bet on it. His career is made.

For that matter, check out the history of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was also originally self-published.

What about YouTube? Teens and adults are making videos, silly and otherwise, that are going viral quicker than they ever could before. As a result, many of these teens now have multi-million dollar book deals, films, and TV shows in progress. They did it themselves, as opposed to waiting for others. Their visibility led to their…

Joel Eisenberg

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.