was watching a show the other day where famous peeps get their portraits painted while giving an interview.
This week it was Aussie comedian, musician, director; Tim Minchin.
He was big in the UK. He’s big in Australia. I don’t know how well known he is in the US, but he was a whisker away from nailing Hollywood too. Then it was all ripped away.
Here’s the story:
At the peak of his comedic success in the UK, Dream Works came-a-knockin’ with the opportunity to direct an animated movie following the adventures of a Bilby and a Kangaroo across the outback.
Tim jumped at the chance, assembled an all-star Aussie cast for the voices, including: Hugh Jackman, Ben Mendelson, Damon Herriman, Jackie Weaver, Naomi Watts & Margot Robbie!
Basically, the best of the best of the best actors in Australia, and enough star power to make the movie an instant hit.
Tim talks about the time, and attention put into it.
3 and a half years, with “half-hour meetings just discussing the dust on the texture of a leaf”, or “the colour of the red dirt in the Australian outback”
I’ve no doubt it would’ve been a rip-roaring success, but three and a half years into production, Universal Studios took over DreamWorks, and Tim got a phone call.
Some suit, on his first day, called up Tim and said:
“They didn’t know if it was going to be a hit or not.”
So they just killed it. And that was that. All that work, gone.
Tim reflects that there were two things he’s struggled to come to terms with since:
The first thing was dissonance.
He couldn’t understand how an external power could take away his art. I imagine this is how people feel when they build a business on Disgracebook, only to have it ripped away with no reason.
The second thing he struggled with was all the things he said No to during that time.
His family, numerous tours, he basically retired his comedy career just as it was peaking to put everything into this project, only to have it deleted in a phone call from someone he never even met.
This is an important realisation.
Opportunity cost is everywhere.
Every time you say Yes to one thing, you say No to an infinite number of other opportunities.
It reminds of the story Jim Carey tells about his father who was a really funny guy, and could’ve been a great comedian himself.
“My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
Wise words, indeed.
I think doing what you love instead of what’s safe is a solid sentiment to take into 2021 after the year we’ve all had.
I think Tim Minchin would agree, but he might add:
If you build something, create something, invest in something – make sure you own it so it doesn’t end up as a costly flopportunity.