Write Yourself Into The Script

As the summer movie season begins, last summer’s romantic comedy, Celeste and Jesse Forever, is worth remembering. While it has absolutely nothing to do with interim executives, the story behind the movie’s creation spotlights a practice that is critical for interims.

First, a quick look at the movie’s backstory:

The Plot

Last August, a New York Times article, Breaking the Mold by Writing a Part for Herself, spelled out how actress Rashida Jones wrote herself into Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Also one of the movie’s two screenwriters, Jones knew that directors tended to see her in roles where she was the pleasant counterpart (girlfriend/wife/friend). But the character of Celeste isn’t that person, and Jones wanted that role for herself.

One studio that considered purchasing the script wanted to reserve the right to cast someone else if finances dictated. She said no. Ultimately, the film was made in 23 days for less than $1 million.

The Plot Thickens: How the Best Interims Are Like Rashida Jones

Likewise, the savviest interim executives are those who make their own opportunities.

“There are two kinds of interim executives,” according to Association CEO Bob Jordan: “there are interims who accept engagements and there are interims who create engagements.”

The former have the mindset of working for a corporate boss: they are executives but they are essentially employees. They are commonly linear in their gigs, not taking on more than one engagement at a time.

Entrepreneurial interims, on the other hand, have the mindset that they are partnering with their clients. They have decided notions of how the client can win. They usually have multiple parallel engagements going on. They are intent on hitting home runs for themselves and their clients.

A Script In Hollywood is like a Deal In PE-land

The give-and-take of deals between interim executives and the PE firms that need them result in an ideal scenario for both.

According to Tom Goldblatt, president at Ravinia Capital and in business development for Monomoy Capital Partners, the experts who bring opportunities to PE find it “easy” to get a meeting, particularly when those executives have industry expertise that can be applied to the mission at hand.

Writing yourself into the script is a lot easier when you’re the one who’s actually inventing the opportunity, like Jones and her movie.

Ironically, Jones might have acquired some interim-like business acumen along the route: getting the movie made presented one financial hurdle after another that had to be overcome.

The script was first acquired by Fox Atomic, a subsidiary of Fox, according to the NYT article. A month later the company folded. The same happened to the second firm that purchased the script. In total, Jones said it happened about 6 times. But Jones kept at it, pushing the script she wrote herself into until it (and she) made it.